Job Search Strategies for the 50+ Crowd (and 6 mistakes you should never make)

by Laura Labovich on July 24, 2011

In her new book “50 is the new fifty” author Suzanne Braun Levine encourages women to be unabashedly proud of their age, to claim it on their own terms, and make their own rules.  But for the millions of Boomers who find themselves, either out of desire or need, still in a job search, many have discovered that the rules, this time around, have changed.

Before you can begin to claim your encore career, you have to know the rules of the road. Here are 6 mistakes mature job seekers should never make, and how to avoid them.

1. Failing to have a plan…
Ask yourself how many more years you want to work. Decide how you want to live those years and what you must do to get there. Take assessments to shed light on your personality and your preferences; your work style and priorities. Design the next forty (yes, forty!) years of your life, so the next job you take is sure to position you for the long run.
Note: A great exercise for this can be found in the book “Targeting a Great Career” by Kate Wendleton and is called The Forty-Year Vision.

2. Failing to embrace “that social media thing”…

If you are behind on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, how will you ever have time to learn Google+ or Quora? There are now more than 100 million users on Linkedin and 85% of employers are now “googling” job candidates, so if you are not in it, you are knowingly putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Understand what can be found about you online and then strategically, rather than haphazardly, build your online presence. And, if you don’t know how, get help…yes, right now.

3. Mistaking Experienced with Overqualified…
If you are going for a job for less pay or responsibility, be proactive and share your reasons in the cover letter or the interview. Not looking for any more 15-hour days, or miss the excitement of a hands-on job, that’s cool. There’s a good and a bad way to frame it too, so get advice on, and practice, your delivery, because this question can quickly land you in the “no” pile.

4. Relying on the same old job search tricks…

Using multiple job search methods is one way to shorten your job search, and spending 20% of responding to online job postings is more than good enough! You heard me, step away from your computer (yes, you with the blue izod shirt). Include the following in your job search diet as well: networking with your target employers, direct & targeted mail, and using search firms (when appropriate), and you’ll do your job search a huge favor.

5. Copping an attitude…
Fear that you are harboring some resentment or bitterness toward your previous employer, or concern that you are about to be discriminated against by your next one? Get over it. Work out the bitterness before you get to the interview and stop looking for a scapegoat (your age, too much experience, the economy, etc.). Instead, share your energy and enthusiasm and consider all the new things you can learn from the new generation.

6. Going back to Nixon on your resume…
Clear the clutter from your outdated resume and tailor it to the jobs to which you are applying. A tightly-written two-pager is the industry standard now for those with 10+ years’ experience, but handing out a 3,4 or even 5 page doc will really show your age. Don’t turn your resume into a laundry list of your accomplishments from 60’s and 70’s. Remember, meaty information from early in your career can be showcased in other ways, without an assignment of dates.

So, that’s it. Oh wait, just one more thing. As a former Disney recruiter, I often feel the need to throw some “pixie dust” around (get used to it!), and since I’ve just shared six mistakes to avoid, how ‘bout we move on to something a bit more cheery? Here goes. For those moments when you are discouraged and frustrated, when you find yourself convinced that no one is hiring older workers, here are a few sites to prove you wrong:

Retirement Offers CAFÉ (Certified Age Friendly Employer) certification program for employers who meet certain standards for workforce policies.
Jobs Job board for candidates 40+; 3000 active listings w/ excellent companies Information on finances, health care, pets, volunteering and senior living; anonymous resume postings and thousands of temporary, part-time and full-time positions Thrives with job listings from employers, got its start when Disney signed on. Continuation of Senior Job Bank, mission of matching older workers with employers FREE service that partners with schools and alma maters to reach verified candidate base Resources to combine “purpose, passion & paycheck”

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chuck Geer September 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I find it interesting that a thirtysomething is giving career advice to fiftysomethings and older!


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