Finding A Job After 50 The Things You Need To Know
Taking Charge Of Your Job Search
While the news headlines might have you running a little scared and the commentators explanations of why the unemployment rate is soaring and the economy is tanking is not making thing any easier to understand. All you want to know is where will it end and what can you do if you lose your job. If you are under 30 you're probably safe but be prepared for a pay cut. If you're over 40 you are quickly becoming paranoid and you don't trust anyone under 40 and If your over 50.........well you do have those investments to fall back on ...........don't you?
Being unemployed and over fifty is a predicament most of us would never want to find ourselves in.Unfortunately with the economy ,seemingly, in shambles and growing weaker by the day more and more 50+ men and women are finding themselves precisely in that place. So what do you do? Where do you turn and is there any hope?
First we need to recognize that this economic event is not a recession or a downturn in the economy brought on by natural world wide ebb and flows in international monetary policies or practices. No this is home grown. We have done this one to ourselves.Employees are frightened and so are Employers. This is an unprecedented event bought on by the collaspse of the credit markets. The fixes we are attempting are collective best guesses. It could take years to find out if or when they will work.
There is plenty of blame to go around from Wall Street to the Banks to the Government, Politicans of all stripes ,Large Corporations, Credit Markets, You and Me. So before we swing the rod of correction we might want to practice ducking as we will also be standing in the line along with everyone else. We all bear responsibily .Certainly some more than others to be sure but none of us can escape the part each of us played in this event.
We had a population whose spending was out of control. Somehow we began to believe that credit was nothing to be overly concerned about. If you want something go get it now you don't have to wait till you can afford it. Don't worry about saving or being responsible. It became known as instant gratification. Our politicians got the bug and did the same thing. Spend and worry about paying the bills later. It will, quite probably, turn out to be a watershed moment in the history of the USA. I could go on but this article is about job hunting after 50 not the economy so I wil save that topic for another time.
You need to realize that, because of the high unemployment rates, you are now competing against dozens of candidates for every job you apply for and almost all of them will be younger that you. In fact some of the positions you apply for will have a hundred other applicants going after the same position. This is especially true if you use websites like Monster.com. Your experience is not looked upon as the asset it once was. You will be seen as a higher cost employee in terms of health care and salary expectations. Most of the time your resume will be discarded out of hand without any interview.
So what do you do? How do you find a job when the system is stacked against you?
1. Your resume needs attention. Forget about spending hundreds of dollars getting that professional look so yours will stand out above the rest. Everyone will be sending a "professional" looking resume. Yours needs to stand out above the rest not blend in with the pile.You will get one chance to get your resume noticed. Keep it short, to the point and well organized. The Human Resources Manager should be able to tell ,at a glance, your experience and personal information. Make it easy for him or her to find your resume interesting not boring or too detailed. Please remember to check the spelling and punctuation. Make a mistake here and your as good as done.
2. Always include a cover letter. Be sure to make each one unique to the position you are applying for. Do not use a form letter. They stand out but not in the way you want and potential employers will not give your cover letter much consideration if you can't be bothered to make the effort to do a proper one.
3. Do not include your age but referring to yourself as a "mature worker" or "experienced worker"will save you and a potential employer time and even a little embarrassment . While age discrimination is illegal it is still practiced widely and you need to be aware and prepared for this. It is best to weed out the potential discriminatory employers and concentrate on the ones where you have a better chance. By using the term mature or experienced you will succeed in removing the worst ones. Trust me you do not want to arrive for an interview with a potential employer only to realize that the interviewer was not made aware of your age. It makes for an uncomfortable meeting and two things will become very apparent. first you will not be considered for the position and secondly, because of your age, you never had a chance to begin with.
4. You have to repackage and present yourself differently . Make your experience and age an asset. The economy is in shambles and will be in difficulty for a long time to come. Us that as your hook. Point out that your experience includes working in and managing operations during recessions and downturns. Many companies are less than 25 years old and do not have managers or experienced workers who went through the recession of the early 80's. This is your opportunity. You have, in many cases, the knowledge to help these companies get through the toughest times of their existence. You can sell yourself as a person who has been there and done that. Even older well established companies do not have many "experienced" people on staff anymore. We spent the last 20 years convincing our "older workers" to take early retirement to save on payroll and health care costs. Now when the economy is in dire need of experience workers they are scarce and hard to find. This is your opening.
5. During the interview be yourself. Do not try to pass yourself off as younger than you are. Most of the time these tactics do not work. Dress conservatively and act your age. Do not just answer set questions with pat answers. Remember you have to stand out in the interviewers mind. He or she could be interviewing a dozen or more applicants for the position. Do your homework. Research the company and ask intelligent questions yourself. It is important to know as much about the company and its operations as you can. Again I say Do Your Homework!!!. If the opportunity presents itself and you are confident in your abilities offer hypothetical suggestions as to how you would handle problems like slow sales, decreased market share and budgeting for tough times. This is what will set you apart from the other applicants and will get you noticed in the mind of the interviewer. Not a job guarantee but it gets you closer to the goal than many of your fellow applicants. Remember each interview builds on the last and you gain experience and confidence. Do it right and you will not be unemployed for long.
6. Always follow up the interview with a thank-you email, to your interviewer, immediately after returning home. Wait a few days and then call the person who interviewed you to inquire about the status of your application. The more personal contact you can have with your interviewer the better. Keep your name front and center within reason. Use common sense with this. You want the interviewer to remember you positively not be annoyed because you are constantly contacting them. Think about what you are doing and handle yourself professionally at all times.
7. Don't forget the personal contacts you have made over the years. Make a list and spend time, weekly, calling and contacting these people. Your next job could quite possibly, be in that list. These people were your friends, business contacts, and others who you met along the way during your years of employment. One of them may be the key to your future. Don't underestimate the potential of this area.
What you are attempting to do will not be easy and indeed will probably be discouraging at times. You must always remember that you have a lot to offer and the employer that takes a chance on you will be rewarded with a first class employee who will not only be a good worker but could ,quite probably, bring ideas and experiences that will help the company get through the difficult times ahead. You are the employee they have been looking for. You can bring a unique blend of maturity and experience that will help the company through good times and bad. You have that something special ,that quality, they will find nowhere else. If you believe it your new employer will also. Believe it and go get that job. It's out there and it is yours by right. Find it and prove to yourself and others that 50+ is not a barrier or an end..........it's just another hurdle and you have jumped lots of them before. Time to do it again.