Looking for employment? Here are some tips for older job seekers
Q. I am 63 and was laid off because of the virus. Is there an employment agency or other sources I can contact where someone can at least help me find a part-time job? I have a varied background with two degrees in theology and years of volunteer work. Thanks for your help. H.N.
One would assume that with millions of jobs going unfilled, there would be many employment opportunities. That’s not always the case, particularly when it comes to older job seekers. They may not have the requisite skills; prefer shorter commutes or none at all; may not like the work arrangements or nature of the job; the pay might be inadequate and, in many cases, it’s because of age discrimination. Note: Only 8 percent of companies include age as part of their diversity training, according to the Harvard Business Review.
Even with the demand to hire more workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in January 2022, about one-third of unemployed workers ages 55 and older were considered long-term unemployed, meaning it took them more than six months to get a job. In contrast, about one-fourth of workers ages 16 to 54 had the same experience.
Finding work in any life stage has multiple components. Here are a few tips with a focus on older applicants: the resume, networking and resources. Let’s begin with the resume.
Age-proof your resume: There is an erroneous assumption that older adults lack tech-savvy skills. To avoid that stereotype, don’t use an older email account such as AOL or Yahoo and avoid including your street address which some consider a sign of an older applicant. Of course, don’t include the year of your graduations. (Note: Advocates who are fighting ageism might argue this approach is counterproductive since it’s hiding age rather than being proud of it. I agree. However, there is the reality of the workplace and for many, the need to work. In the meantime, many of us are working to help create age-neutral work environments with a level playing field for all ages.)
Prepare for a computer-screened resume: Showcase your job skills. Your resume likely will be screened by a computer before it reaches a hiring manager. Therefore, your cover letter and resume should reflect keywords about your current job skills rather than a summary of your past work experience. Include keywords for each job opening.
Polish your appearance: Some research suggests that once a hiring manager interviews applicants face to face, the advantage goes to the younger worker. This has been the case when both younger and older applicants have the same qualifications. The message is not to necessarily look young but to look good, however you interpret that. You might tweak your wardrobe or hairstyle indicating you are current.
Other tips include limiting your resume to one page with recent work experience and skills rather than describing your work history. Highlight technical proficiencies. Finally, make sure the resume is easy to read with headings or some bold type.
Again, here are a few tips. If possible, be clear about what you are seeking by stating the type of work or job. The person with whom you are connecting may be going to the movies or playing golf with someone who is looking for a person just like you. Never appear desperate or too hungry and connect with experienced folks who may have multiple contacts. And if you are reserved, Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Never Eat Alone and Other Secrets to Success” (2014, Crown Business) has some advice: “Get over it,” as quoted in Monster.com. Finally, reach out to younger folks for not only networking, but also to be your mentor. In the area of technology, there is much we can learn from them. Jack Welch, former CEO and Chair of General Electric had a 25-year-old mentor and assigned 20-something mentors to his executives.
The internet is key for connecting and providing opportunities for one’s next position. LinkedIn is a must. Finally, take advantage of face-to-face opportunities. Attend conferences, meetings, social events and just be there. As Woody Allen is quoted as saying, 80 percent of success is showing up.
H.N. Thank you for your question. Next week we’ll address resources and explore possible opportunities suited to your background. In the meantime, stay well and be kind to yourself and others.