3 Tips on How to Get a New Job When You’re 50+.
There’s mounting evidence that suggests those who are unemployed long-term are twice as likely to be over the age of 50 than younger. It’s hard to pinpoint one reason for this. Still, it seems to be a combination of ageism, a confidence gap for many older workers regarding their tech skills, and a growing apathy amongst workers 50+ concerning the modern workplace.
This recent Wall Street Journal article offers a few recommendations which I’ve mixed in with some of my own thoughts:
1. Don’t avoid your age, but don’t (subliminally) advertise it either. Some job seekers say they are doing just that by appearing youthful where it matters most—in their attitude, engagement, and overall curiosity. You can do this both in person, for hiring managers and colleagues, and in writing, to the bots that screen résumés. Others are pitching themselves as indispensable mentors to younger colleagues and are using similar language in their resumes while also playing up their “crystallized intelligence.” This concept is getting a lot of media interest due to recent New York Times bestseller books like Arthur Brooks’ “From Strength to Strength.” As one well-known executive recruiter told me, “If you show up with curiosity and passionate engagement—in writing, on Zooms, and in-person—what people will notice is your energy and not your wrinkles.”
2. Emphasize what you have learned. Don’t be afraid of using the word “wisdom” on your resume but be careful of confusing wisdom with war stories (a phrase Australian MEA alum Mike Rungie has coined). Outline how your mistakes or lessons of the past made you a better leader and how that pattern recognition will be valuable, especially to a company full of young people.
3. Demonstrate schedule and role flexibility. Imagine the plight of today’s HR department: a historically low unemployment rate pre-pandemic, then they needed to lay off many people in 2020 and create all kinds of new work-from-home programs. In 2021, they planned to bring people back to the workplace, then Delta and Omicron hit. And, of course, the Great Resignation and a well-advertised burnout epidemic followed that. Most HR execs wish their crystal ball were less cloudy, so what they need is flexibility based upon the pace of change they’re trying to digest. Ironically, flexibility is what many seasoned workers are looking for as they want their work to dovetail with their lifestyle. For so many older people, they’d love to work part-time instead of full-time and they have the capacity to be a utility player given their generalist skills. This gives you a leg-up with the beleaguered recruiting managers.
Of course, there are many more tips than these three. Based on your experience, what are your favorite tips for obtaining a job after the age of 50?
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