Job Search Strategies that WORK if you’re 40 or Over
Age discrimination, unfortunately, is rampant.
As much as we wish it weren’t so, here’s proof.
ProPublica.org, an independent, non-profit investigative journalism website, published a story in December 2018 that reported that 56 percent of people older than 50 are being “pushed out’ of “longtime” jobs “before they choose to retire.”
Just one in 10 of those workers ever again earned as much as they once did: “Even years afterward, the household incomes of over half of those who experience such disruptions remain substantially below those of workers who don’t.”
The study looked at data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) which followed about 20,000 people from 1992 to 2016 starting when the people turned 50 through the rest of their lives.
You really should read the whole thing. It’s long, but fascinating. For one thing, it found that it didn’t matter if the economy was up or down or if the people were members of the C-Suite, Managers, had highly sought after skills, were Administrative Assistants, etc. If they were over 50, they had a 56 percent chance of being forced or “encouraged” to leave.
Don’t think you’re immune; it CAN happen to you!
Sometimes called the “last acceptable bias,” age discrimination/ageism can happen to anyone. No matter how much you work to keep your tech and business skills up-to-date, no matter how energetic you are, no matter how respected you are in your field, if you’re over 40, you could find that it takes you far longer to find work than it did when you were in your 20s and 30s.
A longer job search may not be too bad if you’re still happily employed. But if you’ve recently lost your job?
Be prepared to hunt strategically
- Don’t hide from ageism’s reality.
- Simply assume your job search will take longer than it did when you were younger.
- Freshen up your LinkedIn profile.
- At minimum, make sure your skills and credentials are as up-to-the-minute as possible.
- Consider leaving off any job experience on your resume older than 15 years. Don’t include the year you graduated from college. Create a skills/accomplishment-based resume rather than a chronological resume (and list your job history and titles at the end of the document).
- Keep your tech skills up to date.
Happily, the myth about the “oldster” bumbling along trying to figure out how to open a Zoom account, set up a website, link their new Smart TV to their cellphone, etc. is just that: a myth. But it’s one that can really hurt the over-40 job seeker.
Fact: Dropbox found that of more than 4,000 IT workers, those over age 55 were actually less likely than younger employees to find using tech at work stressful.
According to the survey, just 13 percent of those aged 55-plus said they had trouble working with several devices. (Note that 37 percent of respondents aged 18-34 said they had trouble.)
Yet, the survey also found that workers in all age groups thought that older workers were slower to take on new tech with 59 percent of 18-34 years saying they felt that way.
So, that’s what you’re up against.
Still, as we said above, don’t hide from this ageist belief system. Fight it. Fight it HARD!!
And that means keeping up to date with the latest developments in all of the tech you use at work.
Digital marketers, for example, constantly need to keep up with changes in digital marketing strategies, the latest and greatest in social media marketing tools and techniques, and so on.
IT pros? Well, we don’t have to tell you how quickly technology is changing. And you simply must stay on top of it. No excuses.
Finance administrative professionals? How’s that new QuickBooks Online certification coming along? Do you dream in Excel? How are your Salesforce skills?
We get it. It’s really hard to stay current. But it’s absolutely critical.
- Reach out to your network.
You’ve probably built a great network over the years; don’t be shy about tapping into it.
The best possible way to do this is via LinkedIn. And we don’t mean just posting an update that you’re looking for work and hope someone reaches out to you.
Instead, you need to be extremely active on the platform. Post updates to your profile that discuss issues and trends in your field and then add your own insights to them. Offer value. Give to get.
Make sure you also comment on your connections’ updates. Aim to add something of value to the conversation instead of saying, for example, “great idea.”
A really terrific article on using LinkedIn as an older job seeker is this one.
- Contact a recruiting firm that specializes in your industry.
Recruiting companies that focus on specific industry niches, can be a terrific way to find work if you’re over 40. These firms – and their experienced recruiters – have deep connections within the industry in which you want to work.
Their entire reason for being is to place great people with great companies, and they fully understand the value older job candidates will bring to their clients’ tables.
You and your recruiter will work together to leverage your experience as a valuable asset by showing their clients how the work you’ve done in the past helped solve the problems of your past employers….and will help their clients reach and exceed their goals.
Recruiters also will help you present yourself in the best light. If they feel you need to appear more au courant for a particular employer or present your hard-won gravitas even more so for another, they’ll help you do so.
No matter your age, if you’re looking for new career opportunities, take a look at our current opportunities and if one or more interests you, follow the directions on the listing. You also may contact us anytime.