If you’re 50-plus and have experienced a job loss, or you’re simply looking to switch gigs, take heart in the fact that your career isn’t over. Here is an article from The Week that has some excellent advice on how older workers can better market themselves in today’s job search… and get hired.
1. Don’t… try harder
You read that right. Don’t.
If you’ve been on the job hunt for a while, with little or no success, you may have heard this platitude: Just try harder! But according to Bob Sullivan, co-author of The Plateau Effect: Getting From Stuck to Success, it’s actually the worst thing that you can do in this situation.
“When you find yourself putting more and more effort into something that’s getting less and less results, it’s not a sign that you should keep trying — it’s just the opposite,” says Sullivan. Of course, this isn’t to say that you should stop putting in effort altogether. Rather, you should try something different, whether it’s revamping your LinkedIn profile, networking more consistently, or working with a career coach to more effectively bust through a job-hunt rut.
2. Do… make your résumé ageless
Lisa Johnson Mandell was in her late 40s when she suddenly found herself without a job. Although she made sure to show off her 20-plus years of experience as an entertainment reporter on her résumé, after countless job applications went unanswered, her husband gave her the hard truth. “He said, ‘Lisa, don’t hate me, but you really look kind of old on paper,'” she recalls.
So Mandell removed key age indicators from her résumé, such as the year she graduated from college and the lengths of time that she was employed. “As soon as I sent out this new résumé that wouldn’t tell anybody how old I was, I started getting responses — I’m not kidding you — within 20 minutes,” she says. “And, in two weeks, I had three full-time job offers.”
The result wasn’t just a new gig, either — she also wrote a book, Career Comeback: Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want, in which she shares strategies for giving a résumé a more youthful spin. “Somebody in their 20s looks at 20-plus years of experience and puts you in the same age group as a mother or grandmother,” she says. Of course, in an ideal world, experience should trump age, but Mandell adds that “if you’re really intent on getting a job, you have to make concessions.”
3. Do… brush up on your interview skills
If you haven’t interviewed in a long time, you could probably use some practice. Instead of role-playing with a too-comfortable friend, try going on a few interviews for jobs that you aren’t as jazzed about “because what you don’t want is to go on an interview for the job that you most want and screw up,” explains Art Koff, founder of RetiredBrains.com, which connects older workers with employers. “Every interview is a learning process.”
You may also want to record yourself speaking. It’s a tip that David Welbourn received while making a career switch at the age of 59 from a fundraising post at a hospital to a director role at a nonprofit. His advice: “Listen to your own voice, and ask yourself, ‘Do I have enough emotion? Do I sound like I care?'”