Finding a job is hard work for anyone, but older Americans have it especially rough. According to a recent study by the AARP Public Policy Institute, which looked at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers aged 55 and up remain unemployed for more than five months longer, on average, than their younger counterparts (54.3 weeks compared to 28.2 weeks). In light of these figures, U.S. News & World Report retirement editor Emily Brandon put together a list of 7 Tips For Getting Hired After Age 50. Read on for a summary of her expert advice.
1. Start the Search Early — Jobseekers tend to fare best just after they’ve become unemployed, so don’t delay the search process or “ease yourself in.” The smart play is to start looking before you part ways with your job. If you wait too long, you might become discouraged, and you’ll need to explain a larger gap in employment on your resume. Both of these things could hurt your chances of getting hired.
2. Take Advantage of Connections — While the importance of the Internet and social media can’t be overstated, one of the most tried and true ways to find a job, Brandon writes, is working connections. Reach out to everyone you know at companies you’d like to work for. “You can avoid a lot of implicit discrimination if someone who knows you is willing to vouch for you,” says Texas A&M associate professor Joanna Lahey, who studies age discrimination.
3. Show You’re OK With Being Managed — Being a 50-plus jobseeker likely means interviewing with potential managers who are many years younger. According to Brandon, it’s important to reassure them you’re fine with taking orders from someone with less experience than you, and that you’re not waltzing in looking to take over the joint.
4. Keep Age Out of the Conversation — During the interview, don’t draw attention to your age, even in passing, and be sure to avoid making any remarks about the interviewer’s age. You’ll risk coming across as condescending.
5. Keep That Resume Short — Listing every job you’ve ever held is not only unnecessary, but it might be a detriment. Focus on the last 10 years and highlight recent accomplishments and skills.
6. Prove You’re Not Overqualified — In your initial approach, the cover letter, explain that even though you have all these years of experience, you’re not overqualified. Talk about why, specifically, you’re interested in the position and poised to excel in the role.
7. Demonstrate Comfort With Technology — It may be ageist, but many young people believe older workers aren’t up on modern technology. Show ’em they’re wrong by doing things like inserting a URL link in your resume and contributing regularly to industry groups on LinkedIn. When it comes to the interview, mention something you read on the company’s Twitter feed.