Tips For Finding a New Job After 50
The Los Angeles Times reported in August, 2020, that nearly 3 million workers ages 55 to 70 left the workforce (furloughs and layoffs) since mid-March, and more than half of those will be pushed into choosing retirement before they are ready because they haven’t found a new job. If you are one of these experienced people “in transition,” let’s get to work on starting a new chapter.
Sure, there are challenges, but they can be overcome with the right preparation. Here’s our playbook for finding a new job later in your career.
Keep Up Your Looks, Your Spirit and Your Energy
Our first tip is loaded with strategies. A job search after 50 means you’ll need to assess your appearance. Ask yourself if you need a more stylish haircut, more contemporary clothing or updated glasses? These things indicate you care about your image as well as enhance your energy and enthusiasm. Just don’t overdo it. It’s important to package and present yourself in a modern manner without throwing away who you really are.
When we say spirit and energy, we’re talking about your passion and positivity. Be a pleasure to be around — avoid pessimism, anger and despair; negativity and bitterness will only sap your energy and leave others with less desire to help you with your search. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. If you believe you are too old to find a good job, it will show. Be hopeful and upbeat; you can be successful at this. Although age is not the barrier it once was, acting and looking “old” will deter your hiring. And when it comes to energy, the next most important change you can make is to get moving. Being physically fit is an important part of your look and improves your frame of mind. Simply walking every day will give you a polished edge that shines through in an interview — and even on Zoom calls. We encourage you to assess how old you might seem and how you come across to others. Think about the first impression you give.
Always Be Connecting and Constantly Communicating
Networking is one of the best and fastest ways to find a job. An advantage to job searching after 50: You’re likely to have a bigger network and more connections to people who can help you find your next position. This is not a helpless situation. You need to rely on these people if you want to give yourself the best chance of landing your next gig. In fact, it can be a waste of time to search websites and scour job boards. Rather, use LinkedIn to track companies in which you are interested and to identify folks with whom you can connect. Instead ask your former bosses, co-workers, colleagues, and people you’ve supervised/mentored in the past about their connections. Let them know you’re looking for a new job. Don’t be shy or afraid to activate your network. No excuses, friends. People can only help you if they are aware of your situation. Show gratitude for their help and keep them in the loop regarding your progress.
Finally, don't forget networking is a two-way street. You will be surprised how often during the course of a conversation you will be discussing a business issue or challenge and you will know the perfect person in your network to introduce them to. It also shows how valuable your network is and another value-add you bring to the table. And always, always, ask for introductions/referrals into their network where you can then be able to use their name to garner a meeting with folks you haven't even met. The beauty of networking is opening doors you might never have thought possible. Behind one of those doors a perfect career opportunity awaits!
Customize Your Resume
When you think about it, you now have an opportunity to pursue a job you’ve always wanted. It’s your time to redefine how you think about work. Create your resume so it shows your experience without showing your age. Remember, it is completely your choice what to put and what not to put on your resume. If you have a 30-year career, you do not need to include your first job. We suggest illustrating your accomplishments going back about 15 years. Then write, “Prior to 2005,” and list relevant experience that will help you get the career you are looking for at this point in your life.
Demonstrate You Are a Tech-Savvy Team Player
The last thing you want is a potential employer to worry about whether you’ll struggle with technology. Ease an interviewer’s mind by matter-of-factly explaining the technology used in past jobs, or in your current job search. Casually mentioning recent systems you’ve used, your scheduling app, a helpful web browser extension or a recent article you’ve read will be more impressive than you think. Someone who is generous with their knowledge and experience, willing to share what they’ve learned from mistakes and being someone who wants to help solve problems is always considered a valuable asset.
Turn Age Into an Asset
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking of your age as a hurdle or obstacle you need to overcome in your job search, but at this stage you can leverage your experience and play up work ethic, mentoring skills and maturity, emphasizing the benefits you can provide to an employer. Do this in your interview answers. Show how your skills can solve problems, how you can coach and mentor others to elevate company success and increase profitability. You should be confident in your skill set, yet show you are coachable and desire to be of value to the team.
Employers like to hire smart, reliable people who aren’t trying to climb the corporate ladder. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you have some advantages and unique things to offer. Hiring managers recognize this type of value and are willing to pay for it. We’ll save our interview tips for another blog post, but for now, remember this: Research the organization before your interview, demonstrate interest in what the company does and ask questions of your interviewers. Companies hire for attitude as well as aptitude. We’ve seen it, and we’ve done it.
And here’s the most practical takeaway in this entire blog post: When asked how long you plan to keep working, or where you see yourself in 10 years, tell them you’ll keep working as long as you are contributing and making a difference.
It’s not easy to find a job after 50, especially in the current economy, if you don’t commit to making it happen. We recommend putting consistent daily effort into the hunt for your new position. Treat looking for a job just like having a job. Have a daily plan, get up and get moving, have calls scheduled, work your list of existing network contacts as well as the referrals. Get some exercise in, eat healthy, stay positive. Don’t procrastinate, and don’t give up. Get started on landing your new position now!
About the Authors
3 and EA 5). She has worked with all levels of business leaders and team members to improve performance and organizational effectiveness. Debbie has spent more than 20 years in talent development connecting people to jobs and getting to know leaders as individuals, exploring their goals, and coaching and guiding them toward achievement. As a coach, she works to help people find the resources needed to avoid feeling alone in their challenges and to create an environment of trust so her group members can speak freely, get ideas and develop the skills needed to achieve personal and professional success.
was an engaged member of Executive Agenda for nearly 20 years prior to becoming a Group Chair (Executive Mentor) in 2018. He presently serves two SE Wisconsin groups (EA 1 and EA 6). His career has taken him all around the country to lead companies in sales, marketing, business development, planning and organizational leadership. He has an MBA from Northwestern University’s JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management, has served on various boards and currently participates in Silicon Pastures, an angel investment organization that investigates potential investments in a variety of early-stage companies.
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