At just 2.7%, the unemployment rate for those 55 and older is the lowest for all age groups. Still, it can be intimidating to seek out new employment when you’re older. Competing with younger people who are perceived as more technologically savvy and energetic can be daunting. And while age discrimination is illegal, it happens.
Older job seekers have plenty of assets to bring to the table, so your best bet is to use them to your advantage. Here are five smart job search strategies for securing gainful, meaningful employment.
Leverage your network. An advantage you have of being a mature worker is the fact that you’ve had years to assemble your personal and professional network. Let your friends, family, co-workers or former co-workers, and any others in your network know that you’re on the hunt for a job and describe the type of opportunity you’re seeking. That will help keep your name top of mind if an appropriate opportunity arises. And don’t forget about electronic networking. LinkedIn puts your professional network at your fingertips, so if you don’t have an account, set one up. With more than 15 million jobs posted on the site and over 350,000 users, it’s one of the biggest online platforms for finding a job. Build a brand for yourself and include a photo to indicate that you’re comfortable with your age. If you’ve had a LinkedIn profile for some time, be sure the information is current, accurate and enticing.
Don’t shy away from technology. Older employees are often negatively stereotyped as lacking the necessary motivation and capabilities needed to embrace new technologies. At a minimum, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the essentials such as Outlook, Word, Excel, social media, etc. If your tech skills are rusty or non-existent, have a friend or family member teach you the basics. There are also plenty of books, online tutorials, and classes available that can help you to hone your skills.
Focus your search on places that actively seek experience. Companies such as Your Encore specialize in placing experienced professionals with businesses in need of project-specific skills for key roles. Job sites like workforce50.com cater to workers age 50 and up. By interacting with employers who are happy to employ older workers, you can be more efficient and improve your chances of finding the right match.
Highlight your assets. Your experience and years in the workforce have provided you with life skills and abilities that younger workers don’t have. Emphasizing these strengths can set you apart. On your resume and during the interview, play up assets such as problem-solving skills, leadership and judgment. Be prepared to support your claims with concrete examples.
Consider temp-to-hire gigs. At any age, it’s generally easier to get a new job when you’re already employed. In temp-to-hire positions, the company has an opportunity to see how workers perform on the job and fit in with the culture before putting them on the payroll. If the employer sees you doing an amazing job, delivering on what needs to be done, and working well with your peers, you’ll easily become a top candidate. If it’s financially feasible, volunteering can also be a great way to get your foot in the door and demonstrate your capabilities.
Follow your passion. Especially if you’re beginning an encore career, think about career paths that will allow you to fulfill a lifelong passion. Do you love to read? Consider working in a book store or as a library aide. Have you always wanted to work with kids? Search for a job as a substitute teacher. Keep your favorite charities in mind, as well. It can be immensely rewarding to pour your time and talent into a cause that’s close to your heart. Charities are often stretched to the limit but find it hard to fill staff positions because they can’t pay as well as for-profits, so check to see if they’re hiring. Give plenty of thought to what you really want to do with this period of your life and follow what drives you.
Job searching isn't usually easy at any age, so don't give up. It may take a while to find the right job, but there are employers who understand the immense value older workers have to offer. For more tips and suggestions for finding your perfect encore career, FAI is here to help. Please contact our knowledgeable, helpful advisors for more information.
About FAI Wealth Management, Inc.: Located in Columbia, Maryland, FAI focuses on helping clients create the financial future they desire by protecting their wealth, making the most of their assets, and planning for life's uncertainties. The firm combines fee-only, fiduciary-driven guidance with highly personalized, consultative financial planning and investment services that enable individuals, families, and businesses to navigate complex life transitions. Founded in 1987, FAI currently manages more than $350 million in client assets nationwide. For more information about FAI Wealth Management, please visit the website at https://www.faiwealth.com or call 410.715.9200.