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Tips for Job Search After 50

Job Search After 50

There is nothing like experienced job candidates for employers, but that doesn’t mean looking for a job when you are 50 years old (or older) will be a piece of cake. First off, if you look older, many hiring managers will think twice about hiring you (sorry but true). Why? Just like everything else in life, there is an age bias when it comes to hiring. Maybe they think you will be too slow, not know new technology or may have an issue learning new stuff.

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Whatever the bias (and there are many), there are 10 times as many good reasons for hiring managers to hire older job search candidates. The trick is to find the right opportunities for you and to convince the hiring manager that you are the best person for the job.  Following are some tips.

Keep Your Resumes Short

You know you’ve got lots of experience, but if your resume is too long (a delicate balance) it could be a red flag. Ensure you are using resume formats that are current and popular (some links follow).  Remove or “one line” very old jobs. Definitely list your education, but leave out the year(s) you graduated and no need for a GPA.

“Staying motivated when you have a goal can be tough, especially if that goal seems far away. If your goal is to land the job of your dreams, you’ll often have to spend months, or even years attempting to get to where you want to be. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! If it was easy, wouldn’t everybody be going out there and picking and choosing what they wanted? Where would the fun in that be? Enjoying your journey, the contrast in it, and learning from it is one of the best ways to improve your life!” – Staying Motivated On a Course To Your Dream Job

Ensure you show that you have current skills (like Excel, PowerPoint or whatever is relevant for your industry/job type). Check your prior experience on your resume and make sure they reflect current terminology for your industry. Make sure you’ve listed major accomplishments for each job and try to show how this has either saved the company money, added sales or where you’ve created efficiencies.

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Leverage Peers in Your Network

If you have lots of experience, you should have lots of contacts in your network. Focus on your contacts that have a similar level of experience. They are more likely to have or know of opportunities that are in line with your level of experience and will understand the value of many years of experience. “Knowledge is power” and it can only help if your network is aware that you are looking for new opportunities.

The “best-kept secrets” will not help you in this case. You should already have a presence on one or more business network sites (if not, now is the time).  Review your contacts and profile and update as necessary.  Recruiters (both internal company recruiters and 3rd party recruiters) depend heavily on business network sites for sourcing candidates.

Having a solid volunteer position on your resume will show that you are active and making good use of your time. You can also consider contract roles and part-time employment to fill the gap.

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How to Leverage Your “Spare” Time

Whether your 24 or 54, your full-time job is to look for a job when you are out of work. However, an extended period of unemployment does not look good either. If you are out of work for a while, it makes sense to try and do some volunteer work. While volunteering in your industry would be the most useful, it is generally not practical (unless you are an attorney, health care worker or an accountant).  Having a solid volunteer position on your resume will show that you are active and making good use of your time. You can also consider contract roles and part-time employment to fill the gap.

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It’s All About Money

Lots to consider when you are out of work, like paying your bills. Chances are if you are in your 50’s you’ve saved some money (granted, retirement savings) but of course, this is not always the case. The second thing you should do (the first being “apply for unemployment”) is to examine your fixed costs (stuff like rent/mortgage, utilities, credit card payments, etc.) and figure out what you need to do to meet these expenses. Many lenders will work with you if you’ve generally paid on time and are in a tough situation. Discretionary spending is easier to control, but how much less do you want to eat? So, now is a good time to examine your entire budget and figure what is absolutely necessary versus what you can do without.

Starting Your Own Business

You are unemployed. If you’ve ever dreamed of starting your own business, now may be the time to take the plunge. You need to have a business plan, cash to back it up and a viable business. There is some support for new business owners (like SBA loans). This is a big decision not to be taken lightly, but you have lots of time on your hands. Maybe it’s time to be your own boss.

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