Job Hunting After 50
Long-term unemployment is recognized as any individual who has been jobless for six months
or longer. Currently, 5.8 million Americans define that category; and among them, are many
people over the age of 50. Older adults face unique challenges when seeking employment.
Carol A. Silvis has a master's degree in Adult Education and is an assistant director
and department chair at a Pennsylvania business institute. She also presents workshops and
seminars for schools, businesses and professional organizations. Following are highlights
to help jumpstart your job search as a mature worker:
Skills and Qualifications
The job search process begins by matching your unique abilities with a company that needs
them. Define your purpose for working. Whether it's full or part-time will guide your employment
pursuits. Shift the focus from your age to how your workplace, transferable and life skills
meet the needs of the employer. Consider too, your personal traits, like energetic and forward
thinking, vs. the old-fashioned ways of a mature worker. Share only relevant abilities vs.
listing every duty you've done over your 30-year career span. Too much experience can shun
an employer. This is the age of lifelong learning. Keep your skills current by attending classes,
workshops, earning a degree or certification, participating in online webinars, etc.
Resumes and Cover Letters
No career assessment would be complete without attention to resumes and cover letters.
For older workers, key elements to a successful approach include:
• Accomplishments vs. Duties. Highlight your unique value-added accomplishments at companies you worked for, vs. mere duties.
• Contact Information. Provide any links to your professional online presence, including blogs and/or websites.
• Digital Resumes. Write a targeted resume for each desired position. Use industry-specific keywords to help with search engine optimization (SEO), to increase the odds of being read by a person.
• Education and Training. If you earned your degree more than 20 years ago, omit your graduation date.
• Qualifications Summary vs. Objective. A qualifications summary highlights your major accomplishments, skills, education and personal traits.
It's a brief paragraph or bulleted list that employers can easily scan; and provides more insight than an objective.
Always include a well-written cover letter. It increases your odds of grabbing an employer's
attention; and provides an opportunity to expand on information not resume appropriate, including
Today, computer skills are essential, both in the workplace and during your job search.
Increasingly, employers require such abilities for hire; and many available jobs are now posted
exclusively online. Research a company's website to determine its key players. Use industry-related
key words in online applications, cover letters and resumes. "This is not the time to say you
are too old to use technology or have no use for it," says Silvis.
Now, social networking is a necessary component of your job search. Maintain a professional
presence on the big three platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Many employers use these
sites as recruitment tools; and mastering them can increase your odds of being discovered for