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Job Search Tips for the Modern Day Mature Worker

In today’s world of work even mid-thirties can be considered old, especially in in high-tech industries. Unfortunately for mature job seekers, the older you are, the longer it can take to land your next position.

What can you do to address age discrimination and promote your skills and qualifications for employment? There are strategies mature workers can implement to help expedite a job search and to find, win and keep the job you want.

Start with the Resume

One way to overcome the perception of being an older worker, is to age proof and edit your resume. Limiting what you include on your resume, can help mature job seekers avoid the stigma of being considered "too old" by a prospective employer. The resume is your invitation to an interview and if you are not invited to the interview, you will not get the job.  The interview will get land the job, not the resume itself.

Limit Related Experience

Limit the related experience to the job you are applying for on your resume to 15 years, leaving older jobs off your resume entirely or include, without dates, in another section.

Eliminate Other Experience

Leave your other experience off your resume or list it without dates in an Other Experience or More Experience category.

Don't Include Dates

Don't include high school and college graduation dates or dates for any other courses, or professional development classes that are older than 10 years.  If you have a college degree or even if you have taken college level courses, don't list high school on your resume.

Be Careful About Years All Together

Don't list the length of experience you have in your resume objective, if you use one. I suggest using a professional summary instead of an objective. For example, it's not advantageous to say you have 20 or 30 years of experience. It will raise a red flag that you are an older worker.

Use a Targeted Resume Approach

Take the time to write a targeted resume that is tailored to highlight the experience you have that is precisely relevant to the job you are applying for.

Consider a Combination Resume or possibly a Functional Style

Consider using a functional resume that lists your accomplishments at the top of your resume, or a combination resume, rather than a chronological resume, which lists your experience in order of dates.

Focus on Your Skills

Promote the fact that you're up-to-date with current technology, by including the latest programs you're familiar with and leaving off out-of-date technology.

Display You're Connected

Include a link to your LinkedIn profile on your resume. If you are not on LinkedIn, you need to be.  Sign up for free at, www.linkedin.com.

 It will show hiring managers you're involved in current means of communicating and networking.  

Pump- Up Your Resume Appearance

Presentation matters. Make sure your resume is refined and well presented. You don't want your resume to "look" old-fashioned and out- of shape.  

Be Prepared to Email Your Resume

Keep in mind that most resumes are emailed or uploaded to a company web site or job site to apply for jobs. Email a copy of your resume to yourself, to be sure your formatting doesn't get lost during the transmission.  Consider sending your resume out in plain text unless the job description specifies that you can use another particular file type. You cannot assume that everyone in the world has Word or PDF programs installed on their computers, and making your digital resume overly fancy may cause you to miss some opportunities.

Highlight Your Relevant Experience

When writing your resume and your cover letters, there's no need to mention every job you've ever had. Include only the most recent positions and, if you attended college, don't list your graduation dates.

Style Tips for Mature Job Seekers

You can cleverly write your resume and cover letter, but you can't change the basic facts - your real age and your employment history are carved in stone. However, there are ways you can work on your appearance when you are job searching.  Appearance can make a huge difference when you're interviewing. Here's how to modernize your job search image.

For Men

  • Wear a suit (preferably dark colors)
  • Wear a long-sleeve dress shirt (preferably white)
  • Wear a stylish, conservative tie
  • Wear dark dress shoes in good condition
  • Wear socks that match and cover your calf when seated
  • Wear a belt that matches your shoes
  • Have well-groomed hair and nails
  • Don’t wear too much cologne
  • Make sure whatever you wear fits and it is not outdated!

For Women

  • Dress conservatively (preferably dark colors)
  • Wear a tailored pantsuit, jacket and skirt, or dress
  • Wear dark dress shoes with 1-3 inch heel in good condition
  • Wear hosiery that matches your outfit (natural or dark colors preferably)
  • Carry a small purse that matches your shoes and/or belt
  • Have well-groomed hair and nails
  • Don’t wear bright colors or bold prints
  • Don’t wear too much makeup or perfume
  • Don’t wear excessive, distracting jewelry
  • Make sure whatever you wear fits and it is not outdated!

Use Your Network

Networking is still one of the best ways to land your next position. Regardless of when you graduated, if your alma mater has a career network use it to contact alumni in your field of interest. Use online and offline networking resources to make connections to help with your job search.

Get Job Search Help

If you're struggling with your job search, consider seeking assistance. There are no-cost programs provided by OneStop Career Centers, non-profit groups, churches and local libraries, for example, that can assist.

Keep Your Skills Up-to-date

Everyone applying for employment, regardless of age, needs to be computer savvy. If you can't send an email, or don't know what Instant Message is, take a computer class. There are classes offered, free or low-cost, by continuing education centers, churches, libraries, and schools. The more current your skills, the better your prospects for finding and keeping employment in today’s world of work.

Don't Give Up

Job searching usually isn't easy, regardless of how old you are. So, don't give up. It might take a while to find a job, but, there are employers who understand the value of an older mature worker with life experience, and skills.

Thanks for reading,

Diana Miller, Founder

Community Job Club

www.communityjobclub.com


A story from one of our members...

My name is Vera Hurst and I am a mature worker.  My career has been varied and for the most part enjoyable.  I moved to Northeast Ohio four years ago to begin a new life.  In the past, I never had a problem finding a job, so I didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking about the employment market.  I “assumed” that it would be easy.  Little did I know that in 2007 Northeast Ohio was in the middle of an employment crisis.

I spent the first seven months in Ohio trying all the traditional ways mature workers have used over the years to find a job.  Writing a traditional resume, searching job boards on the internet, reading the newspaper produced only one interview.  Networking was a new word to me and besides I didn’t know anyone.  Finally, not having any success in finding employment, I attended a Community Job Club meeting.  Here, I learned how to make my resume more modern by using a style which highlighted my varied skills and placed them prominently on the first page.  I took advantage of the resume tips included in this article by taking off dates, moving older and unrelated jobs to the back page or removing them altogether and making sure that the first page popped.  By using action verbs, key words and statistics targeted to show employers how I would be a solution to their problems, it was much easier for my resume to be on top of the pile.  After using these tips, my resume produced at least a phone interview each time I sent it out and finally resulted in a job offer in my profession.

I would encourage mature workers to seek out their local job club and become involved.  Not only will good tips come your way designed to assist you in your transition but the friendships made are supportive and long term.  Volunteering at my local job club has helped me keep my mind off my own problems and keeps me moving forward, too.  

Guest Blog: Connection between Severna Park United Methodist Church and Arundel County Workforce Development by John Covington and Paula Brand

 

 

It was Sally’s (not her real name) first time at our Monday morning employment network group.  She is in her mid 50’s and has been out of the job market for nearly 30 years.  She is separated from her abusive spouse and needs a job.  She is preparing to walk down a path she has not traveled in three decades and the details of looking for a job are different.  She is not a member of our church but one of our members had pointed her in our direction and she is counting on our help.  What do we do – there are so many issues?  Where to start? 

 

Everyone who comes to the group has a different story and begins at a different place.  They desperately need a knowledgeable team, support group and the beginning of a network specifically for them.  The other co-facilitator, Sean, and I let her tell her story and we began to assess where she is on her journey.  One of our first recommendations is for her to contact Paula Brand at Anne Arundel County Workforce Development. We trust Paula and her team as she has delivered wonderful advice and services to our members.  We want Sally to add Paula to her network of people that will focus on getting her a job.  Although there is some overlap on what our church group offers Paula and her team work full time in this area and have many resources to help.  It is not an “either or” scenario but it is an “And” – Sally needs to go to our networking group AND Anne Arundel County Workforce development. 

 

*Editor's note: Sally is a new member of Severna Park United Methodist Church Job Club and this entry will be continued as we track her progress.

No one ever hires a resume, but your resume is often the “first impression” a hiring entity will have of you.  Many job seekers who are over 50 years of age make some common mistakes in resumes that will get them overlooked.  There is no second chance to make that first impression.

Many resumes written by 50 job seekers are composed in outdated formats and are in a chronological format.  Be sure to research current resume outlines and construct yours accordingly.  Any search engine will supply you with numerous links with the information, and look at several and find one that you are most comfortable with.  Supply information on positions held and company names and your specific contributions but omit dates.  Title this section “Recent Work Experience” and supply number of years spent in the organization, for Example:  XYZ Company, City, State, VP of Operations, 8 years.   This is especially important if you are trying to re-enter the workforce as well.

Avoid words like “seasoned”, “weathered”, “tested”, “veteran” as these instantly age you.  Hiring companies see them as buzzwords for those who are older.  Presenting solid accomplishments without the fluff is going to get your phone to ring.  Do not minimize your contributions but describe them accurately and don’t be modest.

If the company requests your resume via email, send it by email.  Paper resumes are pass? until you are in the interview.  Be sure to include a great cover letter.  Cover letters are still important despite some opinions that state otherwise.  An effective cover letter will make the person who reviews the resume eager to review yours.  Cover letters should be tailored to the specific qualifications of the job for which you are applying and to the specific employer.

Convey through the style and content of your resume an understanding of the company’s needs, priorities, and hiring criteria.  Avoid self-flattering terms such as "highly skilled, outstanding, or excellent." Describe your accomplishments effectively and let readers decide for themselves that you are well qualified.  Focus on measurable achievements in each role as opposed to a play-by-play of your daily responsibilities

Proofread carefully and in addition, ask others to proofread for you.  You can never be too careful. Hiring managers perceive mistakes as a lack of interest, unprofessional and unintelligent.  Pay close attention to your email address and phone number, as it is suicide to have those critical pieces of information incorrect.

In a world of social networking, everyone has become their own brand and you will need to show companies what you represent. Include your Twitter and blog URLs, or your Linked In profile, so potential employers can learn more about you as a person. If you don’t have any of these accounts, start now. It is vital for potential employers to know that you are current on social media. Twtbizcard  is another great way to capture all of your 2.0 IDs. Of course, double-check by googling yourself to make sure there isn’t anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see on your sites.

Finally, remove “References Available Upon Request” at the bottom of the resume.  Employers expect that you will supply references and you should have them available, preprinted, when you go to the interview.  You are dating yourself and wasting valuable space on the resume.

The most minute details make all the difference.  The most successful candidates are those who are ready and willing to adapt to the changing employment landscape. It doesn’t matter how ready you are for the modern workplace if your resume is straight out of the dark ages.  You may not be able to turn back the clock but you can make your resume attractive to hiring companies no matter what your age!

Thanks for reading...



A success story
By Vera Hurst, Speaker Coordinator/Volunteer, Community Job Club

James came to the Community Job Club after being laid off from a lucrative job.  He was a highly skilled and knowledgeable technical professional, over fifty and had worked for the same company for many years.  Imagine his surprise when he found his name was on the company’s lay off list.  He had not had to look for a job for twenty eight years.   He, also, found himself in a highly competitive market since his company had released over 200 similarly skilled employees.

After trying on his own to find employment in this competitive market he came to the Community Job Club for assistance.  When he attended a CJC resume workshop, he found that his resume contained language which aged him.  He also learned to write a cover letter which was tailored to the job for which he was applying.

Months of networking with potential employers, searching company job boards and following up on leads from past business contacts had not produced employment.  Early on in his job search, he sent his updated resume to a friend he had worked with at his past employer.  One afternoon, his friend’s boss called to ask if he was still searching for a job.  As it turned out, the friend had given his boss James’ resume and he had been so impressed with it that he called to ask James if he wanted to do some contract work for them.  James jumped at this offer and after working for several months was offered a full-time position.  Resume updates, flexibility, persistence and targeted resumes to good fit companies all worked together to put James in a position where he was able to find a terrific new position.


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