What happens if you suddenly find yourself without a job late in your career? As the expected retirement age in the U.S. increases each year, many people are finding themselves in this position. Learn more about late life job hunting and ways to make your age an asset.
Four years ago, Pat Douglass suddenly found herself out of a job as a human resources manager, but still working as a “human manager.” She was a long-distance caregiver for her ailing mother, who lived 3,000 miles away in New Jersey.
Douglass moved her mom to Southern California to live with her. Finding a full-time job proved daunting. So, Douglass started her own part-time consulting business out of the house, with the knowledge that she would not always be a caregiver and would want to return to full-time work someday.
Getting a job is tough; but getting a job as an older worker can be harder. So, while caregiving, Douglass, 55, honed her skills. She worked toward a Ph.D. online and networked through industry organizations, community events, LinkedIn and other social media.
Her mother passed away at age 91 in 2014. Today, Douglass is back in business at a full-time human resources job.
Whether you have been downsized, leave voluntarily, or reenter the work field after a break — snagging a job when you’re older can be extra tricky. But, there are ways to find late-in-life success.
Here’s what you need to know to make yourself marketable later in life:
Discuss your skills and experience so they directly relate to the position you seek. Explain how your past accomplishments and skill set make you “The One.”
“Even if you lack some of the needed technical know-how,” says Nancy Collamer, a career coach and author of Second-Act Careers, “skills like leadership, critical thinking and the ability to work under pressure, as well as personal traits like a strong work ethic, reliability and integrity could make you a very attractive candidate.”
Some employers may think that you’re not up to date on technology, that you will have a tough time reporting to a Generation X (or Millennial) boss and working with younger colleagues, or that you don’t have the physical stamina to do the job. To take these stereotypes off the table, enroll in a computer class online or teach yourself through YouTube videos and other free instructional web material, bone up at adult ed, a community college or senior center, or sign up for lessons at your local Apple Store. Show you’re a team player and get in good shape.
A professional-looking headshot for LinkedIn is essential. Did you know that recruiters are 11 times more likely to click on a profile with a photo than without? Get involved in industry groups, participate in LinkedIn discussions, follow companies and reach out to others in your field or one you would like to be in.
Job recruiters will check your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and other accounts, and so will those you connect with you online. How do you want to be perceived? A strong digital footprint gives you an edge.
Kerry Hannon, a career expert and author of the recently released: “What’s Next: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job In Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond,” advises having a personalized email (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gmail account. Save AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo, Hannon says, for friends and family or you will come across as dinosaur-esque.
Stay on friendly terms with subordinates as well as superiors and colleagues from previous jobs. You never know when the roles will be reversed. While you’re at it, don’t burn your bridges. Coworkers will inevitably pop up elsewhere.
The next job lead or introduction may come from somewhere unexpected. This year alone, for instance, I found two assignments through my children’s whippersnapper friends and a returning client through my nephew!
If you aren’t sure what you want to do, consider an internship or a part-time job to see if it’s for you. A good unpaid internship may not be your ideal but can make your resume meaty and lead to a permanent position and other success in life.
What other tips do you have about job hunting and finding a new position later in life? Share your tips with us in the comments below.