Why You Can’t Find a Job at 45

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Some of the hardest hit job seekers are those in their 40’s and beyond. They’re in that terrible epicenter of not being high enough on the totem pole to be “saved” by job cuts and too far away from the bottom to be affordable and re-trainable. So out go the resumes, and the phone calls to past colleagues, friends, and business associates. If you’re one of the unlucky mid-40’s recently unemployed and can’t land a decent job, there are things you may be doing to unintentionally torpedo your job search.

You’re Touting Too Much Experience

Most employers are looking for someone with 3-8 years of experience. Structure your resume to show that you have 8 years of experience in the job being advertised. Do the same if you’re called in for an interview. Too many job seekers over 40 proudly boast of having 20 or 25 years experience in the field. This immediately sets up a “disconnect” between the candidate and the more than likely younger boss he or she will be working for. And don’t make the mistake of saying you’re ready for a change. Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide notes that such a statement leaves the impression you’re bored and possibly unmotivated.

You’re Touting Omnipotence

Some over-40 job seekers claim they know it all—every aspect of a prospective employer’s business. Their resumes are four pages long and their interviews drag as they relate “war stories” about how they “bagged the whale” in sales or how they saved their last employer from financial ruin. Touting specifics about improving efficiencies and saving a company money have their place, but it’s best to keep them short and limited to a response to a question by the interviewer. Too much braggadocio can make you seem cocky and un-trainable. Not good.

You’re Touting Ancient Technology

Talking about the computers and programs you used in your last job can make you appear “fossilized.” This supports the contention that over-40 job seekers are out of touch with tech. If you used ancient programs and devices in your last job, stay mum. If asked, recall the research you dug up (or should have) on the prospective employer’s systems and name drop them, adding that you’re familiar with these systems. Mary Eileen Williams, author of' Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50  lists three tech-training sites over 40s can use to brush up on tech skills: Lynda.com, GCFlearnfree.org and Microsoft Office Training.

You’re Touting Your Monetary Worth

You may have pulled in a nice six-figure salary in your last job, but that could have been one reason you were let go. Today’s employers are under tremendous pressure to cut costs, which is why they keep hiring college grads with limited experience. So keep your salary requests in line with the dozens of younger, hungry applicants vying for the job you want. For some handy tips, check out Jake Williamson’s book, Salary Negotiation Tips: How to Determine What You're Worth and Get It!

Over 45 and can’t land a job? You’re touting too much and scouting too little. Try the suggestions mentioned above and get busy.

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Vinicio V.
    Vinicio V.

    Age is just a number, specially in the beauty industry.

  • Robert C.
    Robert C.

    very good advice, Im going to apply this and hope it helps me land something technical

  • Jasmin Laureles
    Jasmin Laureles
    ...it's really very true...and happening...
  • Nancy Duran
    Nancy Duran
    It is a reality..... I'm in the professional field of human resources and to read a resume that sets 10, plus, years of experience, one tries to find out how young or "mature" is the applicant. It's sad to have to accept the fact that there is still age discrimination in large scale in the Twenty-first century, especially considering that the "baby boomers" are the highest % of our working population and are the largest economic contributors that the state has provided nationwide.Although this is not the only available employment discrimination, while labor laws intensify to battle these "discrimination", the higher the way to reverse these laws in favor of employers.How ironic, especially when one sitting on the other side of the table......... What then? One has to state a lie on the resume, typing it 50% shorter, in order to get at least a phone call for a possible interview?Negligible, but it is what it is. Who said it was easy? But it is not impossible for the experience and "mature" to enter the workforce!Will is Power.....
  • Michelle Viner
    Michelle Viner
    good article
  • BettyWilliams
    I found this article to be so true. Thanks for the tech training websites.
  • Jacqueline Noorian
    Jacqueline Noorian
    A lot of it is true and it kept me from getting back into the game for almost one year after I was laid off. When I settled "for less" it worked however, I am not happy at my job now and feel used, overworked and underpaid.
  • Lenora Tooher
    Lenora Tooher
    When a female, 20-ish y.o. with a badge entitled 'Ambassador' approached another coworker at my job (I walked away when I saw her pacing by the desk prior to her approach) and stated 'Do you have a certification or something like that?' I knew my days there were numbered. :-) The turnover was very high and relevant. I respected the one female worker who quit after one week and another after 2 weeks. There are jobs out there. Stay positive and switch fields if necessary. So stand proud...I know 1 person 75 y.o. working FT in the Feds. and another 83 y.o. teaching yoga PT at an exclusive gym. Remember: when '..whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.':-)
  • Jerri Bryant
    Jerri Bryant
    I think the largest hindrance is having to enter the date you graduated high school and college.  These questions invite age discrimination.
  • Timothy McElravy
    Timothy McElravy
    Why you can't find a job at 45? Try 55. A few short years ago I managed crews running multi million dollar machinery, meeting daily deadlines... Now I work part time, making what I did in 1980. So you're saying I should lower my expectations?
  • Jeffrey Bryant
    Jeffrey Bryant
    I agree its a tough job market, especially for people over 40 its brutal.  
  •  D. Harrison
    D. Harrison
    Thanks. I see plenty of room for me to improve, and I am looking for all the help I can get!
    interesting but sad. I am over 40 and play full court basketball regularly and beat players 25 years younger than me and yet age discrimination i have experienced is incredible. I currently am prepping to tutor calculus and other advanced math as a supplemental income source and I built my own computer and have three college degrees. Employers frankly just are not that bright.
  • Beverly Lenz
    Beverly Lenz
    Disheartening to see all that I am doing wrong on my resume
  • Michael Davidson
    Michael Davidson
    Our country is collapsing because businesses value cheap labor over quality labor. You can see it everywhere.
  •  Martha Newell
    Martha Newell
    'Too Much Experience"I've 27 yrs experience in ITand 5yrs experience in Medical Coding/Billing. Take away the IT, what have I been doing for 27yrs?
  • TroyQuinlivan
    I'm guilty of all the things you mentioned and never really gave a second thought about it until reading your article..very informative and well written
  • VickiCarmichael
    Good information! I am guilty of some of these things.  I will redo my resume! Thanks
  • Edward Glass
    Edward Glass
    This is a self defeating article.  Clearly it's discriminatory for an employer to look at age and practice ageism. Why not focus on organizations, industry's and company's that look at skilled, veteran and seasoned employees as assets. Written for reccesionary times.  
  • Steve Pequigney
    Steve Pequigney
    Really enlightening - I'm in the job market for the first time in 24 years, and taking my lumps.
  • Laura Harlow
    Laura Harlow
    Richard, I like your attitude. I am 49 and making a couple of mistakes too--but I did make a high salary in my last job. Should I put a lower salary?
  • Bob Airhardt
    Bob Airhardt
    I am unfortunately one of those people  in their forties and my work ethics and experience are worth nothing,litterally it feels like i am on the total wrong path in my career.
  • BarbKnox
    Good article, but how do you lessen your experience (I'm an administrative assistant), when my resume starts in the mid 80's.  So obviously it shows I'm older.  
  • Kim Burbank
    Kim Burbank
    This advice probably won't work.   No one wants to hire an older person unless it is a company that specializes in hiring retirees / people over 50.     The only way to be hired is to know someone and have personal connections.     Otherwise they will always pick the younger and cuter applicant with the stylish youthful good-looks and clothes.    In America is it shameful to be older.   In non-American cultures, it is more respected.
  • Christopher Laub
    Christopher Laub
    Absolutely correct, but what is the answer to be hired again?

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