7 job search tips for people over 50
With millennials and Gen Z age groups expected to comprise 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020, it’s clear things are changing on the job search front. Against that backdrop, it can be scary and discouraging if you’re in your 50s and you lose your job. You’re now competing against younger job seekers who are often more tech-savvy.
Did that last sentence cause you to break out into hives? Take a deep breath and relax. Losing a job at your age is not the end of the world – you just need to get proactive.
Here are seven job search tips for people over 50.
Understand your rights
Before you dive into the job search process, make sure you know your rights. You cannot, for example, be denied a job (or be forced to retire) because of your age. Even if it’s unlikely you will encounter anything overtly ageist, it’s important to remember that ageism is illegal.
One issue you may actually encounter, however, is changing corporate culture. Hiring managers are always thinking about how a candidate will fit, and as the workforce gets younger, this will likely be a challenge for older workers. Keep this in mind when applying and interviewing for jobs; thoroughly researching a company will help you prepare for both.
Get the best possible severance package
Whenever you get laid off, make sure you’ve been given a fair compensation package from your employer. Of course, severance packages can vary greatly depending on the company, province, and time served. You can, however, negotiate to include things like career counselling and transition services. If this is not explicitly stated or offered, ask about them. These kinds of services can be very helpful, especially if you feel like your skills are lacking in any area.
Update that dusty resume
If your resume is twenty years old, it’s time to give it a makeover; you want something fresh and clean looking.
Keep in mind that you will want to have multiple versions of your resume. In fact, a good piece of advice is to always tailor your resume to each job description. Look out for the terms and keywords being used in the job posting to describe skills and requirements, and make sure to use similar language in your resume.
Click here for more info on how to tailor your resume to any job posting.
Put the spotlight on your skills and accomplishments
When you have a lot of experience, it’s important to put the emphasis on skills and achievements. This can be as simple as creating sections at the top of your resume that list skills and achievements. Doing so can quickly highlight the value you can bring to an organization.
We recently wrote about including numbers on your resume to get a hiring manager’s attention, and it’s worth repeating. It’s much more powerful to use numbers and percentages to describe things like employees and budgets managed, sales targets, revenue generated, or costs saved.
Freshen up your brand
One thing the younger generation has down pat is personal branding. They grew up with it. For the rest of us, it might be something of a foreign concept, but it doesn’t need to be complicated (or intimidating).
Start by creating or revising your LinkedIn profile. Hiring managers today will Google you if you’re in contention for a position, and a detailed, up-to-date LinkedIn profile is often a first port of call. Depending on your industry, you may also want to create Twitter and Instagram accounts. Keep in mind, though, that your social media profiles should always convey a professional appearance.
Use your contacts
If there’s an advantage older job seekers have over their younger counterparts, it’s in having decades of former colleagues and clients. Don’t be afraid to leverage this advantage. Once your resume and social media profiles are ready for their close ups, reach out to your contacts. There’s no shame in letting people know you’re looking for new opportunities – they might just open the door to your next great job.
Consider the alternatives
Finally, don’t rush right back into a new job, especially if your severance package gives you some time for yourself. This might be a good opportunity to think about starting your own business (or corralling your experience into consulting). If you’ve considered that already, you’re not alone. The Financial Times recently claimed that over-50s are the new business start-up generation.
More and more people your age are taking a stab at it, and with the rise of the gig economy, there are now many more opportunities for side gigs and part-time jobs, helping to bridge any pay gaps you might experience during the transition.
The world, in other words, is your oyster. Good luck!
Marsha Forde is director of human resources at Workopolis.