To Older Workers: Get With the Program!

I recently worked a career fair that involved the 50+ population.  I met with attendees to help them develop and refine a job search strategy, discuss options for where to look for a job, and review their resumes.  I met with individuals who had very impressive work histories and credentials and some who had not worked in several years.  Now, I was only given 10-15 minutes with each, so I could not get too deep but there were some issues that I take to task.  As a professor of career management, I feel very passionately that people take the steps to be in charge of their career paths but find that the majority don’t.  I felt I was back in a time-warp with very old-school thinking.

Here are some lessons that older workers should pay attention to and they are also applicable to all job seekers:

1. Get Current – study and learn the ways of the new workplace.  The way that companies recruit and hire is not the way it was 20 or 30 years ago, or even the way it was 2 years ago.  Good career management requires one to keep up their skills and be current on the industry one wants to work in.  Read career-related blogs or articles to learn what the lates trends and hiring practices are.

2.  Learn Networking – it is common knowledge that the majority of jobs are unadvertised and that networking is the key way to gain employment.  Networking means you have to get out to meet people and to tell them you are lookng for work.  Networking can occur at meetings, by phone or email, or through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Connections Group.

3.  Be Open – since the workplace is changing, it takes persistence and creativity to seek and obtain employment; this equates to change and moving out of one’s comfort zone.  I met some people who were very resistent to utilizing new technologies and ways of thinking that exist.  Resistence can make you seem stand-offish and unwilling to be a team player.  It could deter your hiring.

4.  Update Your Resume – make sure that your resume is current, formatted correctly, and free of typing and language errors.  Chronological resumes should list your most current job, not your first job. It should go back no more than 10 years and showcase your skills and accomplishments – it should not read like a job description.  Watch the font – 12 point is standard, not 8- or 10-point.  Ditch the colored paper and fancy lines.  Think numbers – quantify your results, i.e. did you save time or money, make money, create a system, manage a team, etc.

5. Watch Your Attitude – looking for a job takes confidence and persistence.  It also takes a good attitude.  If you have a lot of experience, an impressive title, or an advanced degree you should be proud but not indignant with a potential employer.  The onus is on prospective employees to show that you have the skills and acumen they are looking for – and you may only get 10 – 15 minutes to do so. You need to show up to impress – don’t forget to dress the part and put on a smile.

Getting hired is tough for anyone, but more so if you are up there in age.  There is no excuse for not managing your career, especially with access to information and resources on the internet. If you don’t have access, there are agencies and career coaches and counselors who are ready to help.  It takes action – so get out there and get to with the program!


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