Tips for Older Workers and the Job Search
August 18, 2016
We recently debuted a new blog series focusing on the career advice the elderly population, specifically the Baby Boomer generation, had for their millennial counterparts. During the interviews at Senior Planet, one thing was evidently clear – many seniors were not looking to retire anytime soon. In fact, many were actively seeking employment in a workforce dominated by millennials they were advising.
According to the Administration on Aging, seniors (65 years or older) numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available) with the number expecting to double by 2060. Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2015, 8.8 million (18.9 %) of these seniors were in the labor force (working or actively seeking work).
Unfortunately, seniors who live longer are more likely to face financial hardships. The need for seniors to work longer is evident, as it is for those who see their elderly years on the horizon. So, how do mature workers compete for jobs against the highly coveted youth market? Here are some tips to help older workers successfully compete for jobs:
Redesign Your Resume…When you have been working for a long time, you have to begin rethinking how to present that experience in your resume. And you must accept that you can’t include your entire work history. Anything that goes back more than 10 years has become irrelevant, as the nature of work continues to change. Leave it off, remove dates around your education, and tighten the work history you do include to highlight recent accomplishments that matter to the job you’re applying for. By doing this, you’re drawing attention away from your age and putting it more on your value to the employer.
Use Your Network…An experienced employee has the advantage of having made many more connections than their younger counterparts. It’s time to put your network to the test. Go through the people you have worked with, worked for, and supervised and see where they have gone with their careers and what they might be able to offer you in terms of a foot in the door at a company where you’d like to work. There is nothing wrong with seeking help in your job search. That’s the whole point of networking in the first place.
Networking 2.0…You’ve been putting it off, but the time to create a LinkedIn profile is now. More and more employers are turning to LinkedIn when vetting candidates and you’re left out of the mix if you are not represented on this professional networking platform. Find a professional photo that doesn’t highlight your age, transfer your newly updated resume to your profile, seek out the contacts you’ve made over the years and make sure you ask them to provide recommendations and endorsements of your work. Then look for jobs and see if any of your contacts can put you in touch with influencers who might be able to take you to the next step in your career.
Become An Expert…One thing you have the advantage in over your millennial competitors is your ability to write in a way that doesn’t abbreviate words at inopportune times or use an emoji to express your thoughts. So, use what you have going for you and begin writing blogs and social media content that highlights your current knowledge of your desired industry. Get your name out there and put it in front of employers before applying for jobs. It is important to build a brand and the older you become, the more reliant you will have to be on personal brand awareness.
Learn the Technology…There is an unfair stereotype that is placed on people as they age – that they don’t understand new technology. That doesn’t have to be the case. In New York City, Senior Planet helps teach new technology and social media platforms to aging New Yorkers; everything from using a desktop or laptop computer to using a tablet and/or smartphone. Resources like this are available all over the country if you look for them. And if this is the one obstacle keeping you from getting a job, it’s the one obstacle you need to address now. Don’t get left behind in the technology divide.
Show Off Without Showing Off…If you get the job interview, it means the employer was interested in your skill set and would like to know more about what you can bring to the team. Here is your chance to show them. Highlight the experiences where millennials can’t compete – your ability to deal with a crisis, the amount of money you have brought in or saved your company in the past, your experience working with teams to meet company objectives, and the fact that you don’t let personal matters invade the workspace, among other desirable traits. And make sure the person hiring you knows you are prepared to work hard and look forward to new challenges.
Act Professional: Don’t Act Young…You may want to consider updating your professional attire when going into job interviews. See what’s in fashion now that is age appropriate and doesn’t make you look like you are trying too hard. On that same note, don’t try to use slang when you speak. If you use today’s slang, it may seem unnatural, and if you use slang from your generation, it may make you look dated. Dying your hair or beard may nor may not be helpful. You may want to try out the look before the interview process.
Be Humble…If you’re having trouble finding the desired job, you may have to aim lower; show that you are not expecting a salary commiserate with your experience and that you are just looking to prove yourself. This may mean taking a title beneath what you normally held at other companies. It may also mean seeking internships for older workers. All you need is a way in. Once you’re in, you have an opportunity to showcase your abilities and prove your real value to the company. You can’t do that if you let pride get in the way.
by Jon Minners