Turning Age into Advantage: Tips for Job Searching for Professionals 55-plus

Aging workers looking for new jobs face a slew of challenges. You’d think with age and experience, finding a fresh position would come easy. But at some point the scales tip and your age seems to change from being a welcome advantage to a negative characteristic.

Age discrimination is illegal, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. Just like any other type of discrimination, it can be subtle and hard to pinpoint. However, if you’ve ever searched for a job at 55- or 60-plus, you know that it’s likely considered, and many times, it’s not a positive.

Nearly two-thirds of workers ages 55 to 64 say their age is a barrier to getting a job, a 2017 AARP survey found. Applications now include age-related questions. Some job descriptions have a maximum number of years of experience, not just a minimum. Of course, once you meet someone in person, they can see your physical characteristics, and unless you’ve found the fountain of youth, they can guess in which decade you were born.

So, how do you turn the tables to your advantage?

Start by revising your resume. You probably don’t need to include your job from 25 years ago. Keep only the most recent and most relevant positions. When possible, leave dates off. For example, you don’t need to list the year you graduated from college.

Next, show that you are taking steps to stay relevant in your industry. Enroll in an online course. Get a certification. Join an industry organization and attend training events. Volunteer and learn new skills while expanding your network.

When you do get a job interview, research the company culture ahead of time. When appropriate, talk about how you fit into the culture. If you feel your age is a hindrance, you might even want to proactively address concerns. Explain why you think you’ll fit in and how you can be an asset to the team.

Another thing to keep in mind is how you dress for an interview. Depending on the industry and organization, you might want to shelve that three-piece suit. If it’s a more casual company, dress pants and a nice button-up shirt or blouse will present a professional image without going overboard.

Interviewing is difficult at any age, but when you’re older, you particularly want to ensure your answers are engaging. It’s an art form to explain how your extensive experience from two decades ago will make a dramatic impact today. Practice makes perfect, so go through common questions and get critiques about how you can improve your answers from a trusted friend or mentor.

If you still think your job hunt could use a little dusting off, working with a GetFive career coach can make a big difference. Their expertise touches every aspect of the job hunt, from resume editing to interview advice to negotiating benefits once you get an offer. Whether you’re looking to get a new job after being laid off, want to switch to a whole new career, or just want a bridge job for a few years before retirement, they can make a big impact in reaching your goals.

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