Advice for Older Job Seekers - Your Age can be an Asset! Don't Give Up on Your Job Search
The Golden Girls
Older Job Seekers Competing for Jobs
Downsizing in corporate America affects workers of all ages, not just younger employees. The trend to replace older, experienced workers with younger employees who have less benefits and a smaller salary is very intimidating to those that have been on the job for a number of years. Many older workers find themselves laid off with just a few years left to work to reach their retirement goals.
The massive number of people competing for jobs is discouraging to all of the unemployed, however, older job seekers have to face age-related issues that are very hard to overcome. Employers are understandably hesitant to hire anyone they feel is just looking for a stepping stone into retirement. They are afraid of spending money and time to train someone that is just looking for a place to "hang their hat" for a couple of years. They don't want to find themselves back in the position of hiring a replacement again in a short term.
Granted, as an older job seeker you have some stumbling blocks to overcome but your age can be an asset when you use the right strategy in your job hunting process.
Advice for Older Job Seekers ... Do You Need to Find Another Job?
When you are faced with the loss of your job, one of your first steps is to determine just how serious is the situation. At first glance, you will naturally think the worst but give yourself a little time and some clear thinking to evaluate where you are in life and determine what is your current situation. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How far away are you from retirement?
- Do you have enough money saved to get by until your pension, social security or other forms of retirement income kick in?
- Did you lose your health insurance with the loss of your job or are you still covered in case of an illness?
- Did you lose a company vehicle and now have to buy a car of your own?
- Do you qualify to receive unemployment? If you don't know the answer, get to your nearest US Department of Labor office right away.
- Did you know you can receive unemployment and Social Security at the same time?
- The bottom line is, WILL YOU BE OK WITHOUT A PAYCHECK UNTIL YOU GET YOUR RETIREMENT FUNDS??
The answers to the above questions will give you an idea of whether you should search for a full time or part time job and how much money you need to earn. Or can you just sit back, relax, and wait for those retirement checks to come rolling in.
The Resume and Job Search ... Your Age Can be an Asset
If employment is the answer, here are some steps to help you plan your job search strategy.
- You must decide if you are going to seek employment in the same field or do you want to delve into something completely different. Considering your age and depth of experience in your previous job, it may be wise to search for a job where you can use your knowledge to sell yourself. Remember younger applicants for those jobs aren't going to have your knowledge, training, experience, contacts and ideas to bring to the table. Your age can be an asset!
- Prepare a resume that stresses your accomplishments and enhances your benefit to the employer. If it has been a long time since you have written a resume, contact your local Labor Department for advice. Take a resume writing class if they offer one.
- It is illegal for a potential employer to ask you your age. On your resume don't show the date you graduated from high school or college. That would be a pretty good indicator as to your actual age.
- Stress your acknowledgments and awards you may have received that are relevant to the job you are seeking. This shows how valuable you were to your former employer.
- List your volunteer work and social organizations. Show them you might be a senior but you are active, energetic and not dead yet!
- Explore job leads from newspaper ads, the Internet and people that you know. Remember you aren't too old to go to a job fair if there is one in your area. You might want to sign up with a temporary staffing agency...temporary employment can possibly turn into permanent full time work.
- Assess your skills. Has the computer age passed you by? Most jobs today require computer knowledge. You may need to take a class or two to bring yourself up to speed and recent classes look great on your resume.
Don't get discouraged during this part of your job search. You may apply to many job vacancy requests and not even receive a reply. Stay positive.
Remember that a good resume doesn't get the job ... it gets you an interview!
The Interview ... Be Positive About Your Age
The job interview is your chance to "shine" and let the prospective employer know your age will be an asset to his company.
- Let your interviewer know that you are easily adaptable. Some people have the misconception that older workers are "stuck in their ways". Let them know that you grew with your former job and when changes took place you received them with open arms. You were always willing to try a new approach to solve old problems.
- Some potential employers may fear that you would not work well with a superior that is younger than you. Assure them that you are comfortable with co-workers of all ages.
- Give the interviewer the impression that you are willing to share your wisdom and experience but do it in a subtle manner. Don't keep talking about how things used to be done!
- Typically at the end of a job interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Always have a couple of questions in mind. A good question that will help dispel the idea that you are just looking for a short term job is: "Are there opportunities for advancement?" If you are comfortable in asking, here is another great question: "Do you have any concerns that I can clear up in order to be your top candidate?"
Remain positive about your age. Remember you don't have a "best if used by expiration date" sticker on your forehead!
Face Reality ... It Might Take Some Time to Land a Job
Things might not happen as fast as you want or need them to. That's true with many things in life. Be patient and don't give up. Don't let your frustration with the job hunt show when you go to an interview. Don't tell the interviewer how tough it has been to find a job and that this is your one hundredth interview!
After searching for a job in your field, it may become apparent that even with all of your experience in a particular area, you may have to settle for something less than you had before. In the current job market, there is no dishonor in accepting a position with a smaller salary or a less interesting job. If you were a legal secretary for many years, you may find yourself working as a receptionist in a law office. Just look at it as a foot in the door with a possibility for advancement after you have proven yourself. Hey, it's a paycheck that will get you closer to retirement!
And most important of all, don't be defensive about your age ... embrace it!
© 2012 Thelma Raker Coffone
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