We have worked all out lives continually expanding our experience base. We’ve seen a lot of change and successfully maneuvered it. Some of us have even become leading experts in our respected fields, investing decades in a specific area, role or company.
Then it happens.
Something changes. Maybe it’s a buyout, a merger, a restructure, competitive forces, or evolving globalization, or a total industry disrupted. Regardless of cause, we find ourselves suddenly out of a job. Our career encounters a sizable hurdle.
Even with all of our expertise and experience, job searching once you are 50+ can be an agonising experience and fraught with obstacles.
The reality is that ageism is alive and well. And, if we find ourselves job searching at this stage of our lives, it can be the most challenging search we’ve ever experienced.
Many recruiters won’t hire mature workers because they fear that they’ll have one foot out the door and that they’ll only stay a short time. They worry you are set in your ways and won’t be willing to try new ways of doing things. There’s also a concern that you won’t play nicely with younger workers.
Other fears include whether or not the older worker is technologically savvy enough. Whether they are physically up to the job and have the stamina to produce.
If you check those boxes, there could well be a noticeable gap in what they’re prepared to pay for the role and what you expect to be earning given your years of experience
One other reality we can all pretty much count on is that we’ll need to work at least until the official retirement age and some of us well beyond it.
So, what’s a mature job seeker to do?
If you find yourself looking for a career job in your later years, here are a few tips to overcome the built in age bias and hopefully find another career role that will see you through until retirement.
Tips for The Mature Job Seeker
Get your resume working for you.
Make sure it reflects contemporary trends and identifies your key skills. Consider updating the fonts. Think about using a functional rather than a chronological resume as it doesn’t exaggerate the length of time you’ve been in the workforce. Or maybe just high light only the most recent and relevant roles, but make sure it’s error free and is well laid out, perhaps even hire a graphic designer to create the look you’re after.
Create a digital presence.
If you’re job seeking in 2018, at the very least you should have a LinkedIn profile. It will include your history, describes your roles and highlight your key skills. It will also carry a few endorsements from past coworkers, managers or direct reports.
You may also want to build a deeper, richer digital footprint to further promote yourself online. On linked in you can ask for and provide endorsements for past associates. List your key skills and have your network endorse those. Connect with people from your past and industry thought leaders, or those working in companies of interest.
Join groups that discuss and share information on specific topics. Check the job postings there and even set up a custom search to deliver opportunities to your inbox. Make sure that if you’re looking for opportunities that you list that in your profile and and include a recent photo in your profile as well. Depending upon your career role, you could extend your digital presence beyond LinkedIn with a personal website, listings on key industry resource pages, adding a twitter profile, etc. Never has it been more important to have an online presence than it is now. If you’re searching for a new role, you’ll need one too!
Update your appearance.
This is a great opportunity to update your personal brand. Why not clean up your hair and trim that mustache. Find yourself a contemporary interview outfit (and research the dress code before hand so you can reflect it in your outfit choice). Maybe even update those eyeglasses you’ve been wearing for the past five years. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If your interviewer thinks your look is out of date, they may well assume your skills are too.
Mention how much longer you hope to work.
Sliding the occasional, “I don’t think I’ll ever retire completely because I enjoy working and learning so much.“ in the discussion could work in your favour and allay their fear that you’re in it only for the short term.
Brush up on your tech skills.
You don’t have to be a whiz at every new technology. But knowing and using those important to your industry and general techy-things like taking a photo, sending a text and an email from your mobile device are the tech price of entry these days.
So, if you’re not clear on how to do these things, learn. You don’t have a decent mobile phone, get one! Then maybe you can find some way during the interview to subtly, and we do stress subtly, work it into the conversation – showing a photo on your camera role, accessing an online example, or forwarding a valuable resource you discuss in the interview.
Don’t Focus on Your Age.
As a mature worker it’s probably best not to mention your actual age during the interview but focus on your skills, accomplishments and results. Don’t forget to sell the pros that an older worker brings with them, insights, maturity and experience. Try to avoid mentioning actual years, or outdated processes, technology, organisations, etc. If they’ve gone the way of the dodo then probably best not to mention them. Refrain from the, “I remember when…” comments too.
Predict and Plan for Possible Concerns.
When interviewing older workers, recruiters may question your desired salary given your years in the workforce, or whether you’re a fit with a startup as opposed to a stable employer. They may also wonder why an older worker with years of experience isn’t applying for a management role or considering freelance consulting instead. Concerns will be there, too. Do your best to pre-identify them and craft a reasonable response that paints you in your best light, should they arise during the interview.
Mistakes Older Job Seekers May Make
When faced with a career disruption, the mature worker could be making mistakes in embracing the job-hunting process. If this is you, be aware and be better than those who do. Don’t be one of those who:
- Kicks back and takes a break
- Doesn’t have a digital presence
- Relies on traditional sources for leads
- Overlooks their contacts and the power of their network
- Lacks salary flexibility
- Resumes are Overdone
- Rules out too many jobs and conducts too narrow a search
- Waits for the perfect job
- Doesn’t prepare properly for the interview
A few times in our working lives when we come to a crossroads.
There is opportunity and risk when we are faced with this situation. Do you find yourself considering saying ‘goodbye’ to the career job but still want to earn a wage or compliment your monthly pension? Why not consider meeting people and making connections? Want to learn more about technology and enjoy your hobbies and interests? Share your skills, mentoring others, working on your terms, or earning more than you thought possible outside of the parameters of your existing career? We’ll connect you with jobs for mature people at 4Retirees.
Want to get started now? We’ll help you every step along the way.
At 4Retirees we have flexible jobs that are available to you depend on your skills, interests and your circumstances. Complete free flexible jobs match and get your personalised list of flexible jobs opportunities one day, start making extra money the next!
Maybe this is your time to reconsider your career. It’s time to take an alternate path and try something completely different!
We can’t wait to hear all about your situation.
Share your story!
The 4Retirees Team