by Kathy Kirchoff
Times have changed. If you’re an older adult looking for work in this tough job market, you’ve probably discovered that job hunting is very different from the way it was just a few years ago. And, if you haven’t had to look for work in decades, your job hunting skills may be a little rusty.
New Ways to Find Work
You may need to unlearn some of your old ideas about how to find work. Today’s job seekers must be more aggressive and tech-savvy and constantly on the lookout for anything or anyone that can give them the edge in the job hunt.
- Networking has become very important in finding job openings since employers often connect with job seekers through referrals. This means you must increase your exposure and be able to sell yourself to anyone who will listen. Who you know — and who they know — can make a big difference in getting hired.
- Technology skills are important in many jobs. If you don’t have those, you may need some retraining to catch up and compete.
- Since most employers process resumes electronically, you need to know how to apply online. Otherwise, your resume may get overlooked or tossed out. It’s important to update your resume and to have someone look it over for any errors.
- You need to learn how to sell your skills and create a strong online identity (branding). How you present yourself is important. Your online identity is created through online resumes and career portfolios and the use of career or social networking sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.). Potential employers and networking contacts are increasingly using these to identify and learn about job seekers.
- You may need to be flexible in your job preferences, such as your preferred work hours or work location.
- Learn how to interview well by having mock interviews with others. A positive, confident attitude is a must.
Closing in on Retirement Age
If you are an older worker, you’ve probably heard that employers are more reluctant to hire job seekers close to retirement age. Employer fears often includeemployees who are over-qualified, too expensive, use more sick time, take longer to train, lack technology skills, have less energy, or won’t stay long. Age discrimination is prohibited by law, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Some of these general perceptions are simply false. You can reduce concerns about your age by switching the employer’s focus to the value that your maturity, skill level, experience, and stability would bring to their company. You need to impress upon the employer that you would be the best choice, have stayed up-to-date in your field, and are a team player and leader.
If you are unemployed, it is very important that you stay motivated and get back to work as quickly as possible. It may take a little longer than expected to find work but try not to become discouraged or lose interest in the job hunt.
Read other blogs devoted to older workers.