Sunday, July 12, 2020

5 Job Search Tips For When You’re Over 50

Caroline Ceniza-Levine

I have received several recent reader questions about job search tips when you’re over 50:
When you are an older unemployed professional in your late 50's how do you survive and what strategies should you use to navigate through these difficult times we are currently in? – Thea

What are the best career pivot options and tactics for workers over 60? — Ken
Is there a point in pursuing/reigniting a career at my age?... Not looking to start a business but I miss being part of something, getting out of the house and feeling productive and saving money for the future. – Wendy

I write about job search tips regularly and don’t normally break out tips by age group. The mechanics of the job search are similar across industries, functions, levels and ages. I recommend a six-step job search approach:

  1. Identify your targets
  2. Create compelling marketing (e.g., resume, LinkedIn, networking pitch, cover letter)
  3. Research companies and industries
  4. Network and interview
  5. Stay motivated and organized and troubleshoot regularly
  6. Negotiate and close the offer
I would still recommend these steps for job seekers over 50 (or right out of school). That said, life circumstances and your career path to date influence your job search, and these will be different when you have decades of life and work experience. Here are five ways I would modify a search plan for a job seeker over 50:

1 - Start reconnecting socially ASAP
Reaching out to people generally comes later in your job search when you are clearer about what you want and have prepared how to talk about yourself. However, you never want your first approach to be about your job search, when you have not been in touch for years (or decades). Furthermore, with more experience comes more connections (hopefully) and more reconnections to be made as you likely have fallen out of touch over the years. 

Therefore, while you’re gearing up for your search – identifying your targets, creating your marketing – start reconnecting with your network on a strictly social basis. Just say hello and ask about what people have been up to. Focus on having genuine interactions without talking about your job search at all. An additional practical benefit is that it cleans up your database so you can see how many people you already know and can readily contact when you are ready to kick off your search. Your network, especially with decades of contacts, will be much more critical to landing a job than unsolicited applications to job postings (one reason to stop reading job postings).

4 - Summarize your unique value proposition
Whatever you decide to go after, you will have to convince others. To find a job, you need to convince employers. If you go into business for yourself, you need to convince clients. Having decades of experience is one qualifier, but it doesn’t differentiate you from others who also have extensive experience. What is it about your experience, skills and expertise that sets you apart and solves a problem for your employer or client? For example, your decades of work mean that you have experienced both up and down economies. Have you also worked across industries, with big and small companies, in growth market and turnaround situations?

Don’t make hiring managers guess or plow through years’ worth of information to pinpoint what your superpower is. Design your story with the highlights readily available. Have clear examples and metrics to share. Be able to talk about yourself with enthusiasm and confidence. If you don’t feel competitive for a job, then do more work around your marketing, research or interview practice till you feel ready. In order to convince people to hire you, you must first convince yourself.

See all 5 Job Search tips and the complete Forbes article




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