Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/15/2014 6:28 AM

Career coach: Job-searching tips for the over-50s

hello
Success - Article sent! close
 

There are about 77 million baby boomers (born between 1946-1963) in the United States, and some estimate that 42 percent are delaying retirement and 25 percent say they'll never retire.

The challenge is that for those over the age of 50, it takes 20 percent longer to get hired than a similarly trained 41- to 45-year-old.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Recently, I served as the keynote speaker for a career expo for an "Over 50" group of jobseekers sponsored by the Jewish Council for the Aging, Fairfax County, Virginia, and The Washington Post's Capital Business weekly. More than 1,000 attended, including numerous employers, and it offered many informational sessions. I delivered my top 10 career tips for the over-50 jobseekers:

1. Network.

One of the best ways to get a job is by a recommendation from someone you know. You should be networking with people who can provide you with referrals -- friends, family, mentors, past colleagues, people at companies you are targeting, etc. It is critical to always carry business cards with you. Use these events to brand yourself. Practice introducing yourself in less than 30 seconds: Give your "elevator pitch" (eye contact, smile, firm handshake), and be sure to share something unique to stand out.

2. Prepare for the process.

The job application process is not the same as it was in the past. You could be asked to complete various assessments, be part of multiple interviews, be asked to give presentations, among other hurdles. Take the time to find out what you might encounter.

3. Update your resume.

Focus on highlighting the past 10-15 years of skills and jobs rather than your entire 30+ years of experiences. Employers want to know whether you can do the job now, not what you did over your entire lifetime. If possible, fill in gaps in your resume with activities such as volunteer work, classes, certifications, starting a business, etc. List all technology credentials, including recent training and certifications. Try to leave off age identifying information (dates you went to college; older skills, such as obsolete programming languages). Be sure you have your resume information on LinkedIn and other career-oriented websites.

4. Prepare for the interview.

This is where you connect with the employer, sell yourself and show that you have the energy, passion and excitement necessary to do the job. You have to show that you'll fit in, so be sure to think carefully about how you want to be perceived. Consider a makeover. Updating your look can help in your job search. Focus on the employer -- build the case on how much you want to work for the particular firm. Talk about your plans to grow and develop a career within the company with an idea that you will contribute for many years.

5. Be ready to talk about your team skills.

In a subtle way, give examples of your work experiences that highlight how you have worked with diverse individuals (across race, generations, ethnicity, gender, personality, functional expertise, etc.). Explain how you can serve as a leader and a team member. Show that you are comfortable with mentoring others and willing to learn from others.

6. Use your age as an asset.

Reframe the discussion -- rather than focusing on your past achievements, talk about your goals and why your experiences can benefit the company.

7. Retool your skills.

Show you are tech-savvy (via email, texting, social media). Show how you are a continual learner by the certificates, online classes and other types of education you have completed to enhance your skills.

8. Practice negotiating.

Be able to highlight how you use a collaborative style with diverse audiences. Use negotiation tactics in the job search (preparation is the most important element in your success; delay talking about compensation until after your receive a written offer: think about your target not your resistance point; use silence strategically; think about their interests along with yours; have an alternative; listen and ask questions).

9. Seek help.

Develop a support group (mentors, peers, younger people). Colleges frequently extend career services to alumni. Many libraries offer job search classes, clubs and other programs. Look at age-friendly employers (see those identified by Society for Human Resource Management, for example).

10. Be positive, persistent.

Don't sell yourself short. Make sure everything you do speaks to your accomplishments and the value you can contribute.

• Russell is the vice dean and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership and career management.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.