Successful Job Searches When You’re 50+

by Eileen Williams

Over 50 and looking a new job? The job search does not have to be a difficult process if you use these tips that can help make your job-searching efforts successful.

Today’s job search is a difficult process. If you’re currently out there looking for work, you know the roadblocks, frustrations, and daily grind involved in finding a new position. Plus, if you’re over 50, you have additional hurdles to overcome. Age bias is real and all too prevalent in the job market. Nevertheless…

There are certain things you can do to make the process easier and far more effective. So take a moment to step back, reassess your strategies, and review these 10 rules for a successful job search:

1. Heed your #1 success factor: your attitude.

The mind-set you present to others (and to yourself) regarding your viability as a candidate underscores every aspect of your job search. If you are negative, angry or insecure, it will show. Moreover, these attitudes are off-putting to both your networking partners and to potential employers. Make certain, therefore, you are pursuing activities that will elevate your spirits: regular physical activity, volunteering, meeting frequently with friends and joining job search groups where you exchange leads and ideas. These are all important ways you can keep your outlook positive.

2. Clarify your core message.

Determine what you want people to take away from meeting you and learn to articulate your skill sets, strengths, and added value with confidence. Make certain you present a unified brand in your speech as well as in each of your written marketing materials, branding that highlights both your abilities and distinguishes you from the competition. Think: What makes me an especially strong candidate? Which experiences and skills do I possess that others do not? How can I bring added value to the position?

3. Pay special attention to your appearance.

Like it or not, your wardrobe and overall attractiveness play a major role in whether or not you will be hired. This is especially true for jobseekers of maturity because popular stereotypes hold them as being outdated and stuck in the past. Your clothing, therefore, needs to be current (but not trendy or trying too hard to look young), clean, and relatively conservative. You want to look like you will represent potential employers in the style they would wish. Therefore, dress for the job but take it up a notch.

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4. Market yourself in strong, contemporary terms.

Make certain that any of your written marketing materials (resumes, online profiles and personal websites) are packed with key skills that are currently in demand.Use the online postings as a primary research tool and identify the skill sets most requested. If you possess these skills, be sure you cite them frequently. Also, be certain to incorporate industry buzzwords that will show you are up-to-date, knowledgeable, and proficient in your field.

5. Speak to your strengths in a comprehensive manner.

As you brand yourself in your written materials, when networking or at a job interview, make sure you are including each of the three types of skills:

  • Your work specific, knowledge-based skills (technical skills)
  • Your broad-based, transferable skills (ability to prioritize, organize, etc.)
  • Your personal traits and strengths (rapport building skills, innovative thinking, attention to detail, contributing team player, etc.)

6. Be conscious of your nonverbal messages.

Approximately 55% of the first impression you present to others is formed by the nonverbal messages you project. Pay special attention to things like your eye contact, posture, handshake, facial expressions and personal mannerisms. As a mature jobseeker especially, you will need to exhibit energy, confidence and enthusiasm. And these factors are best displayed through your nonverbal messages.

7. Make good use of your time.

Studies show that a minimum of 75% of jobs is obtained through personal referral. This percentage grows even higher for older candidates because, due to the age bias in hiring, mature applicants are less able to compete successfully on their resumes alone. Therefore you will want to spend about 30 hours a week interacting with others. Use your personal friends and colleagues, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites to build up your network of contacts to increase your base of potential referrals.

8. Ensure that your written materials are eye-catching and pleasing to read.

Recruiters, HR reps, and others who source candidates for available positions will spend about 30-seconds determining if your resume/LinkedIn profile is worth their time. This means that you will want to highlight key skills with bullet points and use plenty of white space to draw the reviewers’ eye. Paragraphs (even relatively short ones) will bury your important selling points within dense blocks of text.

9. Identify and prioritize what you want and need from your next position.

Make a list for yourself so you get very clear on your top five values. Do you require a sense of autonomy and independence in your job? Is it important that you have a certain amount of prestige and decision-making responsibility? Do you need frequent interaction with others so you contribute to a mutual goal?

In addition to your values, get clear on the practical aspects of work like commute time, salary, benefits, and various other realities. Then, when an offer comes up, refer to your list of wants and needs so you can make an educated choice to accept it or not.

10. Remain organized.

A job search can quickly get out of hand unless you create some type of system to remain organized and on top of things. You will need to keep track of networking commitments, resumes you’ve sent out, incoming correspondence from your targeted companies, and a vast array of additional data. Creating daily and weekly goals can help, as can designing a personal spreadsheet to monitor your progress. Another great way to manage your search is by using the popular online site, Jibberjobber.com.

If you address and follow each of these 10 rules, your job search should become far more efficient and effective. The very fact that you are making real progress, moreover, will build your sense of confidence and self-worth. And, best of all, you can expect a positive outcome. Even in today’s competitive atmosphere, it’s awfully hard to beat an upbeat candidate who combines confidence with cutting-edge skills and the proven track record of a mature applicant!

And for even more key strategies to successfully navigate today’s difficult job market, be sure to check out Land the Job You Love!: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50. This step-by-step guide shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success.

Reviewed April 2019

About the Author

Mary Eileen Williams, M.A., NCCC, is a job search expert, author, blogger and radio host. Her book, Land the Job You Love!: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50 provides mature applicants with the critical information they need to successfully navigate today’s competitive job market.

Eileen is an active contributor to the Huffington Post, writing job search articles for Huff/Post 50. She also makes frequent appearances on both radio and TV and has been interviewed for Market Watch, Money Magazine and Kiplinger. However, Eileen may be best known as the host/founder of the popular boomer blog and radio show called Feisty Side of Fifty.

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Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people just like you featuring financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd.

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You've learned to work smarter, not harder.

Subscribe to After 50 Finances, our weekly newsletter dedicated to people just like you featuring financial topics and other issues important to the 50+ crowd.

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