Finding a Job After 50
by Amy Crooks
I hate looking for a new job. I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way. Over the past few decades, I’ve held several positions at different companies. However, due to mergers, layoffs or the opportunities for advancement, I had been happily settled in my then-current position for the past four years, only to find out that my division was closing. I would be on the job hunt yet again. It took me six months to find the job I was in! I am a seasoned, 50-something professional who in my earlier years had absolutely no difficulty finding a job. I have been very fortunate. But now that I am older, I have become much pickier in the kind of job I want to take. After all, like a lot of my friends, I am counting down to my retirement years. So I decided I needed to find something that I would like doing, hopefully keep me content (and employed) for the next ten years, and pay me enough to maintain the lifestyle and 401K plan I wanted and needed. Let the search begin!
Not so fast. My resume needed updating. I needed to figure out how to search for a job using the right internet resources for my profession, to find the correct words to put in the search engines, and to filter out all the positions that had salaries too low, required re-location, had nothing at all to do with my experience, or were way over my head to even consider. Where do I start? Fortunately for me, my separation agreement included two months of career consulting with an outside company. Many of my division colleagues also had the opportunity to avail themselves of the career consulting, yet few of them did. I contacted them right away, and here are some very good points I focused on with their help:
Your resume. Make it concise. In the heading include your name, email address, phone, and home address. Below that put a short summary of your qualifications. Then your experience. I was told to bullet my most current position with a list of the duties I performed. This highlights your experience and makes it easier for the reader to see. The remainder of job experience list can be the name and location of the company, dates of employment, and then a short paragraph regarding the duties you performed. You do not need to put dates for your education. This applies to on-line applications as well. The name of the school you attended and your degree is all you need. This helps to ensure that the “age factor” doesn’t distract employers from your skills and experience.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a very useful tool to help employers find you. My consultant helped me update my profile. My advice is to ask someone to help you. I had a profile on there but it was not up to snuff. Under your name you should put your current position, then a brief summary of your best skills. You can turn “on” the selection that you are open to new positions under the “Jobs” tab. And you should have at least 40 connections. So start adding your friends or people who come up as someone you should connect with. You can search for jobs from LinkedIn, write messages to HR people you connect with from there, and receive notifications about jobs you may be qualified or interested in. It’s a great resource. And an important one.
Google yourself. Any employer who is considering hiring you will do this. You should know what they will see. If there is anything that comes up that looks wrong, take care of it before a hiring manager sees it.
Salary. You never have to disclose your current salary. It is against the law for a prospective employer to ask how much you are making now. Of course, you can definitely let them know what you would like and or need your salary range to be in your new job but that probably should not be the in the first conversation.
Interviewing. Practice the basic responses to questions you know they will ask. Such as: what are your strengths, weaknesses, how would you handle this situation? Or, briefly explain why you think this job would be a good fit for you. If you strike out after a few interviews, role play an interview with someone and see if they have any suggestions. There are also job consultants out there you can go to for more help.
In the end, I utilized all my resources and was successful in my new job search. I am hoping to stay with this company until I retire. But I know now that it’s very important to keep my resume updated. And I still have my LinkedIn account. Good luck to you all!
Photo credit: Amy Hirschi (Farmington, Utah) @amyhirschi
I am a Speech Pathologist living in Wayne, Pa. I have raised two boys as a single parent who are now both grown and living on their own. They are my single greatest achievement in life. I have always wanted to try my hand at writing, maybe because my father was always writing when I was growing up. He has a Master's degree from UCLA and writing always came so easily for him. I value family and good friends. And I like stories. Whether I'm reading them or telling them.