Job Searching When You Are Over 50: Secrets for Success
Although age discrimination in hiring is illegal, that does not mean it isn't prevalent. Research shows that it is often more challenging for older workers to secure new jobs.
One 2020 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that workers over age 40 are only about half as likely to get a job offer as younger workers if employers know their age.
However, it is possible to land an exciting new job in your 50s or later as long as you demonstrate your ability to stay current in your field and your ability to use the latest technology to perform your role.
Here are some tips you can use to job search successfully after the age of 50.
1. Update Your Skills
A common mistake job seekers over the age of 50 make is to read the job description and assume they wouldn't be a good fit because the role includes using software they've never used.
Maybe you aren't familiar with the specific software listed in the ad, but you have all the other required skills needed to qualify for the job. Instead of passing up the opportunity, teach yourself how to use the software with a YouTube tutorial or an online course.
If you can show an employer that you have the necessary qualifications and you are willing to learn new skills, that will help drown out any perception, fair or not, that you're "too old" for the job.
2. Optimise Your Resume
If it's been a while since you last looked for a job and updated your resume, you might want to rethink how you present your experience to ensure your application is competitive.
Most resumes are no longer read by people first. Instead, employers often use an applicant tracking system to organise information about candidates and identify which resumes to consider. So, make sure that your CV follows modern best practices by reflecting the keywords used in the job description and using a design and formatting that won't trip up the software.
It's also still a good idea to make sure your resume doesn't reveal your age. Older applicants often try to cram every job they've ever held into their resume. But you should generally only include the last 15 years of experience on your resume unless your earlier work includes a job title or skill that is specifically relevant to the job posting.
If you want to get ahead, secure work faster and make an impression, we provide a professional CV and cover letter writing service.
3. Find the Right Environment
The reality is that not every organisation will be welcoming to older workers. Many people think they want to work at a big-name tech company or a well-known startup, but that may not be the right environment for everyone, especially if they don't want to report to a much younger manager.
You might find a better fit at a college or university that values the skills more mature employees bring to the table. You might also consider startups that aren't household names but are looking for seasoned employees who can take on multiple roles.
4. Leverage Your Experience
During an interview, talk about the depth of your knowledge and experience as well as how you can help younger employees to learn and grow. Outline everything you bring to the table, whether it's managing people or budgets, being a strategic thinker, or having the ability to execute on other people's ideas.
And don't be shy about saying that you can help mentor individuals who are earlier in their career. Many companies struggle with how to train and grow their younger workforce, and one way companies can develop younger staff is by pairing them with older, more experienced employees.
5. Demonstrate Your Knowledge
To show that your experience is up to date, make it clear that you understand the most pressing issues in your field and which experts are doing the most interesting thinking in your industry.
Having this knowledge will help position you as someone who is actively engaged in your field, and it will give you relevant topics to discuss during interviews and at professional networking events.
When writing professional responses to key selection criteria, we make sure that our clients' experience and skills are incorporated every response.
6. Practice Answering the Hard Questions
It's not uncommon for interviewers to make comments to older candidates about being "overqualified" or "too expensive,". Knowing how to respond to these comments is critical because they're often used as an excuse to screen out older job seekers. Because of this reason, we provide tailored interview skills coaching for our clients.
If an interviewer says that you are overqualified for a position and questions whether you would get bored with the role, one way to answer is to say, "I don't view myself as overqualified but as someone who will bring added expertise to the company."
7. Learn How to Use Video Meeting and Other Tools
In addition to being up to speed on the latest technology specific to your role, you will also need to master communication, project management, and productivity tools to be successful and effective within many organisations today.
Some of these tools, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and other video chat platforms, have also become an essential part of the recruiting process, so if you're not sure how to use them, take a tutorial or watch a training video. Demonstrating that you can use these tools during the interview eliminates any concerns a manager may have about hiring an older worker.
Related article: How To Handle Online Screening Interviews
If a prospective employer wants to do a video interview, download the app you'll need ahead of time and test it out with a friend to see how it works before the interview.
It's also a good idea to learn how to share your screen so you can pull up your portfolio or another document during the call to reinforce your experience and show that you know how to use the technology.