The job market is still tight, and has been for the past couple of years. Although we hear a lot about how young people are struggling to find jobs, the hardest hit are people who are over 50. For them, they have so much invested in their careers and not much time to recover from a job loss. In addition, they have higher healthcare costs and a bigger hit when they lose their health insurance after losing their job. They don't have much time to save for retirement and may have seen their retirement account dwindle or get wiped out completely.
If that wasn't enough, people over 50 have a higher rate of unemployment and when they lose their job, it's twice as hard to find a new one. In fact, the AARP recently found that the average job seeker is out of work for 35 week. When the job seeker is over 55, it's 56 weeks. It's a huge difference.
If you're over 50 and struggling to find a job, here are 5 tips to help:
Let your age work for you - Don't try to act younger or play coy about your age. Although it's illegal for an employer to ask you about your age, there's no reason to actively hide it. Of course, you shouldn't tell them how old you are, instead, embrace the things you have to offer because of it. You have tons of experience and a proven track record of success. When you're competing for jobs against younger people, you have the advantage of training, experience and know how. Play this up.
Keep current on technology - This one is huge. It's a good idea for anyone who is looking for a job to be visible on social media. For those older job seekers, this is crucial. Make sure that you have an active online presence. Often employers don't hire older workers because they fear that they won't be able to keep up with the technology. By having a strong social network and including links to your LinkedIn and/or Twitter, the employer will know right away that you are comfortable with new technology.
Accept less pay - In order to get a job, you may have to accept less pay than you want. Even though you are well qualified, you might have to accept a lesser position at first. Even though it's a hard hit to take, the job might be able to offer you more money or a promotion once you've proven yourself. Of course, you'll want to be sure that you aren't going to end up in a dead end job, but otherwise, there's no reason not to work below your qualifications if it can lead you where you want to go.
Adapt to the corporate culture - Most large companies have a corporate culture. Once you get a job, do whatever you can to adapt to it and become a part of the culture. The quicker and better you fit in, the more likely it is that you will be considered for a promotion. The stakes are higher here than they would be for someone in their mid 20's. If they don't fit in with the culture, it is often overlooked with the excuse that they are an individual. However, when a more mature person doesn't fit in, it's more often blamed on them being too old or out of touch. It's not fair, but you can combat this by making a concentrated effort to blend in.
Condense your resume - Although I don't advocate hiding your age in any fashion, there is no harm in condensing your resume. This means that you should only have related job experience for the past 10 years. When you think about it, your resume is a chance for an employer to form an opinion about you without having any information other than what you've provided. There's no reason to make it clear to them that you are an older worker. It won't help you much and it just might hurt you a little. To prevent any discrimination, just give the relevant experience and let your accomplishments speak for themselves.
What other things do you think help older job seekers find full-time positions? Have you ever been the victim of age discrimination? Please share your thoughts in the comments.