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Job Hunting After 50?

an arm outstretched holding a cardboard "Over 50 Need Work" sign in its hand

If you think some employers discriminate against job applicants who are 50+, you’d be absolutely right!  According to a recent survey conducted by AARP those out of work age 55 or older spent an average of 50 weeks or more finding a new job, while younger job seekers were able to secure comparable positions in around 34 weeks.  Why?  Employers may assume that a long work history means older job applicants won’t settle for lower salaries, will miss more work due to health related issues, will quit sooner and are less likely to be technological savvy.
So how do you combat those stereotypes?

1.    Reach out to friends, former colleagues, classmates from years gone by and even to former employers!  Let them know you’re searching and enlist their help.

2.    Dump your old resume.  No one wants to read your work history beyond the past 10-15 years, nor are they interested in your 30 year litany of accomplishments and   accolades.

Tailor each resume to the particular position you’re applying for.  When it comes to resume writing “one size does not fill all” is certainly apt.

3.     If you’re truly willing to work few hours or at a lower salary, be sure to make that clear in your cover letter.  Otherwise it’s not likely that your application will make it past the first screening, much less get you to the interview table.

4.    You got the interview!  Don’t try to “wing it!”  Many older workers haven’t been interviewed in decades!  It’s not enough to simply “hope” for a successful interview.  You’ve got to practice, practice, practice!  Since you’re likely to be interviewed by someone much younger, ask a young friend to help you with a mock interview session.

5.    Older job seekers need to take advantage of social media.  If you’re not currently on LinkedIn: Join!  Take some online classes to show you’re eager to learn new skills, demonstrate you’re comfortable with today’s technology and to improve your proficiency.

Myth Busters:  Did you know?
Older workers are 3 times more likely to remain on the job than Gen X'ers. They tend to be less competitive than their younger counterparts and make better team players.  They also bring with them a wealth of experience that simply cannot be replaced. “The boomer generation is redefining what retirement means,” said Deborah Banda, manager of the AARP Best Employers program. “People are living longer and healthier lives, and there is a smaller pool of younger workers,” she said. “Keeping older workers on the job isn’t just a nice thing to do. It fulfills a real business need.”

For more tips and tools check out AARP’s Life Reimagined®: for a list of more than 85 companies so committed to the hiring of older workers that they’ve even signed a pledge to prove it!

Recommended Reading
Try one of these books for even more assistance:
•    Job Hunting After 50
•    Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50
•    Finding a Job After 50: Reinvent Yourself for the 21st Century
•    Second Careers: New Ways to Work After 50
•    Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life

Nancy Troxler

Coordinator, Occupational & Skilled Trades