“I’ve worked for the same company for 25 years, and I was laid off two months ago. I am healthy, I like working, and financially, I need to work. I applied for several jobs online and no companies are getting back to me,” says a frustrated job seeker.
Over the past 18 years in my leadership executive coaching practice, I have heard similar stories. Job search activities can be overwhelming for a job seeker, especially for an older worker.
A new survey, conducted on the behalf of Wells Fargo, reveals three-quarters of American middle-class workers say they expect to keep working past the normal retirement age (65), and one-quarter think they’ll have to work until they’re 80. Another recent survey of 1,004 workers, aged 50+, conducted by AAPR/SHRM indicates that they have no intent to start winding down.
The work-longer trend is now a reality. The world of work has dramatically changed over the last few years, as have the techniques older workers should be using to seek employment. Here are a few concrete tips I recommend for older workers to tackle job hunting today:
- Make sure your skill sets are up-to-date. Many job seekers tell me that they have known for several years that some of their skills needed to be updated, but they just didn’t get around to attend a training program, college class, or finishing their degree requirements. Don’t be stuck in the past. Get certified, attend training programs and read current literature about your field while seeking your next position. List those activities in your “Technical or Professional Development” section of your resume and a write a paragraph in your cover letter indicating you have updated your skills.
- Show your competencies in your resume. Make sure your resume contains relevant information from only the last 15 years or so. Don’t list all of your jobs going back to high school or college. Incorporate a section in your resume that contains a Summary of Skills or Competencies including some of your “soft skills” (communication, creativity, decision making, negotiation and leadership skills).
- You can say a lot in a well written cover letter. These days a well written cover letter should address how your background and experience matches the requirements for the position. Add a paragraph that showcases how your maturity, work ethic and customer service will add value to the employer and a sentence showing you have a mindset of assisting the company in decreasing costs, increasing revenues and solving problems.
- Show that you are an active person. Join and participate in a community organization. Add this involvement in a Personal section of your resume. This activity will not only lead to networking contacts but will show employers you are energetic. If you participate in sports activities, list them also.
- Don’t convey unstated messages in an interview. Don’t wear a wardrobe that is outdated by several years. You may want to purchase some new clothes that are currently in style. When asked interview questions, answer them directly and to the point.
There is an exciting new online effort to connect older workers with employers. AAPR in coordination with LinkedIn recently announce a multi-pronged Work Reimagined online initiative (www.workreimagined.org). This effort harnesses the power of social media to offer opportunities to connect, to access information and resources, and to leverage a job seekers network in pursuit of more fulfilling work and career.
Bottom Line – you need to show employers that you are in the 21st century. These tips are not guarantees that an older worker will find a job, but will help to level the playing field.