Being out of work is stressful for anyone, but when you’re a mature worker – 50s, 60s or older – finding another job can daunting. Don’t be overwhelmed.
While it may seem that employers only want young workers with long careers ahead of them, don’t hesitate to emphasize what you bring to the party – experience, seasoned skills and a greater likelihood to stay in it for the long haul.
Save yourself some stress, and keep in mind these five tips for 50-plus job-seekers:
- Fight the funk.
Whether you were down-sized, laid off, the company folded or you were just plain fired, losing a job can be depressing. It’s important to fight the blues and begin your job search immediately. Avoid “taking a break” or “catching your breath.” The reality is, the longer you linger outside the job market, the harder it will be to get back into it – and the more likely potential employers will question that time gap on your resume.
- Keep things in perspective.
The truth is, the current job market is pretty good for older workers. As of March 2015, the unemployment rate for workers 55 and older was just 3.9% — down from 4.7% the year before, according to AARP. That’s significantly better than the current national average for all workers, which is around 5.5%. Jobs are out there for older workers – it’s up to you to take the necessary steps to ensure you get one.
- Reassess your skills and reset expectations.
If you’ve been in the same job for a long time, you may not be aware of all your skills or how they could apply outside the job or industry you’re familiar with. Reassess your skills. For example, if you’ve spent decades in shipping and receiving, you may have organizational and people management skills that could apply to program management. Thinking of your skill set in a new way, and being receptive to opportunities outside your familiar industry, could open up a whole new range of job possibilities.
- Get help.
Going it alone is hard. A coach can be especially helpful for older workers, assisting them in reassessing their skills, resetting their expectations, reinvigorating their interviewing skills, and much more. Coaches, like the ones from GetFive, are uniquely qualified to help you define your career goals and create a course of action to help you achieve those goals.
- Never give up.
Conventional thinking would have you believe that it’s much, much harder for an older worker to find another job. The numbers don’t bear that out. The average job hunt for workers of any age lasts about 33 weeks, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey. For workers older than 55, the typical search lasts just 15 weeks longer. Don’t let the length of time deter you. Instead, continue all the good things you’re doing to land a job – working with a coach, focusing on your skills and experience, and being open to new opportunities.
If you find yourself looking for a job when you’re 55 or older, don’t think of yourself as being near the end of your career. Many people are working into their 70s, whether part-time or even full-time. As a mature worker, you’re far more likely to stay put in a job longer than a younger worker who’s trying to build a career by progressing in pay and responsibility from job to job. To an employer looking for a skilled, experienced worker who will stick around, you could be the ideal candidate.