With the unemployment rate at historic lows, now is a good time to be looking for a job. But the competition is still fierce. If you’re an older worker, you may have more challenges than someone younger who has less experience.
However, with some prep and flexibility, you can position yourself well for this next phase of your career journey. Here are some tips for anyone doing a job search when they’re over 40:
Prepare ahead of time
It’s never too soon to start preparing for an interview. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips you can use to prepare an effective strategy.
Research the company and the job description: Know what you’re up against and figure out if this is a role that fits into your future plans. The more you know, the more insightful questions you’ll be able to ask during your interview.
Prepare a list of questions to ask: This will give them something interesting and engaging to talk about during the conversation, so make sure they’re not too specific (e.g., “What kind of software do you use?”).
List examples of your experience with the company: Make sure these are real products or services that were created under your supervision, not just random things that sound good on paper but don’t necessarily prove anything about your qualifications for this particular role!
Related: Changing Careers at 50
If you’re applying for a job, it’s important to be flexible—especially if you’re over 50. Some companies have made efforts to hire older workers and make them feel welcome, but some haven’t gotten on board yet. If an employer is willing to give you a chance, they may want you to work odd hours, travel frequently or relocate if the position calls for it. Since this is the case with many jobs these days (especially in tech), it’s best practice not to rule out any positions that require flexibility simply because they don’t fit your ideal schedule or lifestyle right now.
If an employer offers you an opportunity that requires flexibility and willingness in all areas of your life—including salary and benefits—take them up on their offer. Though having financial security might seem like a top priority at this point in your life (and rightfully so), keeping yourself open to possibilities can help ensure that you won’t miss out on an amazing opportunity just because it doesn’t fit into the box where society has put “traditional” careers for older workers in mind.
Find age-friendly companies
If you’re looking for an age-friendly company, the best place to start is by finding out which ones already have a reputation for doing so. Look up companies that have been named as top employers for mature workers or even those that cater specifically to older employees.
Look at the job descriptions of other jobs similar to yours and see if any companies are hiring older workers. If they are, contact them and ask if they would be willing to meet with you during your job search process. You can also call them directly and ask if they have any positions open that might interest you.
If possible, speak with someone who works at one of these types of companies so they can give you more insight into what it’s like working there as an older worker—and especially whether the company has flexible work schedules (which will be important later).
Concentrate on your experience, not your age
If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, it’s easy to start thinking about how old you are and what you don’t have. For example, if your last job was in a totally different industry than the one you want now, it’s tempting to focus on that. Don’t! Instead of dwelling on how much time has passed since then, focus on what skills and accomplishments made the difference in previous jobs. What were the highlights? How did others benefit from your work?
If this is an issue that comes up often in job interviews (and it will), prepare ahead of time by listing all of your past roles and responsibilities under each employer. You’ll also want to include any personal projects or volunteer work that show off what makes you great at whatever it is that interests employers in this field—even if those projects weren’t directly related to work experience or skill set!
Polish your resume
When it comes to your resume, there are a few things you can do to make sure it’s in good shape.
- Hire a resume writing service. These companies charge a fee to either create a new resume or update an existing one. They cost more than a resume builder, but can be worth the cost if they help you land a new job.
Use a professional resume format. Resumes come in many different styles and formats, but the best ones use a simple, straightforward layout with clear headings and bullet points to highlight your skills and experience.
Choose a font size that’s easy on the eyes. The smaller the font, the more likely it is that readers will have trouble reading your resume—and if they don’t read your resume carefully enough or miss some important qualifications for the job, then you’ve lost out on an opportunity!
Pick a font color that stands out without being too bright or distracting (think black or dark blue).
- Consider using a tool like Jobscan that will help ensure you’re using the write keywords in your resume. This can help you get through the initial phase of automated resume filtering used by many companies.
Related: The Best Resume Builders
Maintain a positive attitude
It’s easy to let your guard down when talking about yourself and the job, but even if you feel that the position is not what you really want or you aren’t 100% sure about it, don’t let this show in your body language or voice tone. The interviewer is trying to find out if they can trust you with their company’s secrets so be careful not to betray any doubts or concerns about the work environment by how you present yourself during the interview process.
If you’re getting ready for an interview with a large corporation like Google or Microsoft then chances are high that there will be more than one interviewer involved in the process so be prepared for this scenario as well. If asked questions about yourself then share information about who else might be interviewing alongside them such as peers from other teams (e-commerce vs marketing). Showing interest in other employees within an organization can help make potential employers see how much value there already exists between coworkers which often translates into better teamwork opportunities later down line should they offer employment..
Update your technology skills
Every industry is going to use different technologies, and you should be familiar with those.
If you don’t keep up with the latest technology, you may have a hard time getting hired. The key is to not be afraid of change, or of learning a new system or software.
The good news is there are more options than ever to learn new technologies. You can easily get online training at companies like Coursera and Udacity for many technology topics.
It’s important not only that you learn how these new technologies work, but also that they actually become part of your daily routine in some way—or else there’s little chance that an employer will hire someone who has no experience using them in their professional life (and may even be intimidated by this lack).
Highlight leadership and team-building skills
As an older worker, you’ve likely had to motivate and team-build, which means you have leadership and team-building skills. Be sure to mention these as part of your interview process.
If you don’t have any experience leading others but are applying for a job that requires such skills, then it is important to highlight any relevant knowledge you may have by discussing past projects where leadership was required or encouraged. Think outside of the box such as things you’ve done with sports, or charitable work.
Remember the power of networking
As a job seeker, it is more important than ever to network. By networking, I mean that you should be open to meeting people you don’t know and having casual conversations with them. This can help you get the job offer accepted or even get yourself an interview in the first place.
I recommend networking with friends who are working professionals in your desired field of work; they may have connections that could help you land a position.
You should also lean heavily on tools like LinkedIn to connect with people in your chosen field. Search your existing contacts who may be in the industry you’d like to enter. Reach out to them and see if they’d be willing to speak with you about the industry and tips they have for interviewing.
When it comes to interview preparation, it’s easy to forget that you need to get into the right mindset. You need to be enthusiastic about the job, the company, and the interviewer.
Enthusiasm is contagious. It’s not just a nice thing for you; it’s also a good way of showing your interviewer that you’re excited about this company and what they do.
Older workers need to do more prep and be more flexible than other types of applicants
It’s important to do your research and learn as much as you can about the company, the industry, and the position. Being prepared will allow you to think on your feet during the interview.
Older workers should also be flexible when it comes to discussing other aspects of their lives and career history. For instance, if they have been out of work for some time or if they’ve taken time off from their previous jobs for family reasons, they need to be able to explain why this happened without worrying about hurting their chances of getting hired.
Finally, they can also search online for “recruiting tips” and see what other companies recommend when it comes down to interviewing an older worker versus an inexperienced one or someone half their age!
If you’re an older worker who’s been out of the job market for a while, don’t despair. There are plenty of companies and fields that can use your experience and expertise.
Take advantage of the resources available to you in preparation for your job hunt, and take steps to ensure that negative age stereotypes do not hold you back.
When it comes time to go on interviews, focus on demonstrating why you will be an asset to the company—and simply ignore those old myths about older employees! Good luck in your search!