It can be scary to go through a career transition, especially if the transition is not one you chose to make. But it can be doubly scary for those employees who have already had established careers. As a mature job seeker you may worry that you are going to have a hard time competing for attention with younger job seekers, especially in today’s job market. And while there is no arguing that a job search for professional in the 50+ range has its challenges, there are ways that you can help yourself stand out.
The Network: Your Biggest Advantage
Having been in the job market for many years, a large and highly developed network is your biggest advantage. Use yours to uncover hidden job opportunities. Schedule networking meetings and focus on gaining insights and information and getting referred to others. Leverage the relationships you have made over a lifetime of working to help find your next opportunity.
As you schedule these networking meetings be sure to think creatively about who is in your network. Consider coworkers, vendors, suppliers, clients, acquaintances, consultants, school alumni, volunteering or hobby contacts, friends, family, neighbors, etc. In addition to one-on-one networking, consider leveraging LinkedIn, attending networking events, participating in online groups, volunteering, or consulting. Finally, network with recruiters, search firms and employment agencies. Developing good relationships with a few select recruiters or employment firms may lead to opportunities down the road.
Focus on Appropriate Jobs
As you consider opportunities, make sure you are looking for a job that matches your level of experience. If you enter the market with more than 25 years experience and start applying for jobs that only require three, then you will probably be labeled as overqualified before you ever get the chance to speak to someone. Recruiters and hiring managers may assume that you are just applying for the role because you need a job, not because you are genuinely interested in the position. They may also assume that because you are overqualified, you are using this position as leverage to move up in or out of the organization, which represents a risk if they were to hire you. This is why it is so important to apply for roles that realistically match your experience. If you are sincerely open to taking a less senior role, make sure you are clear about your willingness and the reasons behind it up front, either through your networking efforts or in your cover letter.
Seek a Culture Fit
You can increase your chances of finding a job by making sure you target companies that hire and value mature and experienced workers. You can typically review the demographics of a company’s staff by reviewing employee LinkedIn profiles. Study the backgrounds, demographics, and qualifications for those in your desired role. The AARP also publishes an annual list of the best employers for people over 50.
Maintain a “Youthful” Attitude
Once you’ve networked, identified the companies you’d like to work for and are ready to send out resumes and find that next opportunity, there are three things you can do quickly to make sure age doesn’t become an issue.
- Let Go of the Outdated: Today’s resume is marketing collateral, not a complete biography. Focus on the last 15 years of your experience. This is most relevant to hiring managers. Also remove dates on education from more than five years ago.
- Freshen Your Image: Update the way you represent yourself visually. Make sure that your headshot is recent and fits today’s styles, have fun with a new look or makeover, and purchase some modern interview attire or accessories.
- Heighten Your Energy: Companies want confident, passionate, hungry, enthusiastic professionals who are excited to innovate and tackle challenges head-on. They tend not to be impressed with anyone who seems tired, desperate, or low energy. Keep yourself healthy and high energy by eating right, exercising, and taking care of your mental health throughout your job search.
You can have a successful job search no matter what your age or experience level. As long as you approach the process with both positivity and proactivity, you will increase your chances of landing a new job faster.