Over 50 and Just Lost Your Job – Now What?

over-50

After you’ve gotten over the initial shock that for whatever reason your job suddenly ended – breathe! The worst you can do is start thinking you’ll never find another job or that you’re too old. Haven’t you heard 50 is the new 30? There are plenty of companies who are searching for the experienced worker. Even though someone with less experience would be happy to jump in and do your roll for less money, companies don’t have time to devote to training. Business is moving too fast and product has to get to market to beat the competition.

So how do you find the companies who are looking for the experienced worker? If you haven’t searched for a job in a while and don’t have a clue where to start – here are some tips.

Resume

Let’s start with your resume. By now you’ve collected a lot of experience and you probably think you need to wow your next employer by listing all your achievements. Not true! The recruiter is going to see your resume first and they only have a couple of minutes to review it. If you’re resume reads like a novel, you’re going into the slush pile.

Here are some guidelines related to your resume:

1. Be brief – Keep your resume to no more than 4 pages.
2. Achievements – Your achievements will set you apart from your competition. List your achievements under each one of your jobs but don’t list ALL of them. Pick out the 5 – 7 most important achievements and if possible match them to the job description.
3. Use bullet points – The ‘look’ of the resume is as important as the ‘content.’ Recruiters read hundreds of resumes daily. A resume with fewer words is a lot more appealing to read then one where the entire page is covered in words. Think about marketing campaigns. Are you more likely to read an ad where there are fewer words and more white space on the page? Consider your resume as your marketing device. After you finish it look at it. Is there any white space on the page? If not, cut…cut….cut words.

For further guidance on how to complete your resume and cover letter CLICK HERE.

Networking

In a study conducted by AARP of individuals over 50 trying to enter the labor market again, 45% of the respondents surveyed said that networking was their most effective tool in finding another position.

Here are some guidelines related to networking:

1. Announce you’re looking – Soon after losing your job announce to your professional network that you are on the market again. Be sure to include a statement as to the type of position you are interested in finding. Let your family and friends know that you are looking and ask them to announce it to their networks, too.
2. Networking Groups – Search for local networking groups to join. One word of caution before spending your time with the group, find out the group’s agenda. Some groups meet and the members are uber proactive in finding a job so that’s a good group to join. You’ll want to avoid groups where members only lament how difficult their search is going. You want to make sure that you surround yourself with positive supportive energy during your search.
3. Professional Associations – Search for a professional association for your field and attend a local chapter meeting. At the meeting announce that you are looking for a job. Some professional organizations have job boards. Be sure to add your resume to their database. Recruiters have very little time to source so they go to places where there is the largest concentration of professionals with the skills they’re searching for.

For a list of professional organizations that have job boards CLICK HERE.

The Job Search

With hundreds of job boards where do you start? The easiest way to find job boards that list your type of position is to conduct an internet search using Boolean logic. Boolean logic uses ‘operators’ such as AND, OR, NOT, to retrieve information based on the search words and phrases you want to use.

Here are some examples of searches you can do:

1. Google Search – Following is an example of a Boolean search string to type into Google if you were looking for Business Systems Analyst jobs needing Agile. (Note: just replace the job title and skills to match your specific situation.)

“Business Systems Analyst” AND Agile AND Colorado AND job –resume -descriptions -profiles -“resume profile” -template -“job description”

(Google doesn’t recognize the operator NOT so use a ‘-‘ instead.)

You can also be specific about the sites you want to retrieve information from.
Following is a search string to bring Business Systems Analyst jobs from Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn. Using this search string will be a time saver because you won’t have to go to each job board separately to search for jobs.

(site:indeed.com OR site:monster.com OR site:careerbuilder.com OR site:linkedin.com) (“Business Systems Analyst”) AND (Denver OR Boulder)

2. Yahoo Search and Hotbot Search.

Use the following Boolean search string in these engines:

“Business Systems Analyst” AND Agile AND Colorado AND job NOT ad NOT resume NOT description NOT profile

Note: be sure and look at multiple pages on all these search results.

3. US.JOBS – This is one job board to search no matter the position you’re looking for. This is a job board that companies who are doing business with the government use to post all their jobs in order to comply with affirmative action laws.

Whatever you do, don’t concentrate your search with any one job board. Companies don’t normally post all their positions with one job board. They spread the jobs across many of the boards to determine which boards bring them the best talent.

Interviewing

As we’ve already established you have a wealth of experience. You’re going to be tempted to ‘dump’ all your knowledge during the interview to impress the team. Don’t! Dumping all your experience during the interview might lead the interview team to decide that you’re overqualified for the role, you might be a know-it-all, or if the hiring manager is less experienced than you, they might be concerned that you may not listen to them.

Here are some guidelines to follow during the interview:

1. Practice ahead of the interview – Look at the job description and for the first 5-7 bullet points under job responsibilities write down examples of how you have had experience in these areas. Do the same for the first 3-5 job qualifications. Stick to addressing these bullet points during the interview and don’t stray.
2. Don’t say ‘this is my last job’ – When asked the question ‘why do you want to work there’, whatever you do don’t say that you’re looking for the last job before retirement. I can promise you, you won’t get the job.
3. Being overqualified – If you know that you’re overqualified for the job that you’re interviewing for you’ll want to address the elephant in the room even if the interview team doesn’t. Make the interview team aware that you know you have more experience and it could work to their advantage. For example let them know you can help mentor junior personnel, or that they won’t have to spend time and money training you, or that you can be up and running from day one. Also let them know that you’re okay with accepting a lower salary. Make them aware that your primary goal is to be able to contribute to the success of the organization.

Social Media

You’ve probably heard that Social Media is the way to your next job and you’re stressed because perhaps you’ve let your LinkedIn account go and you haven’t ever Tweeted or Pinned. Don’t panic. While there are a lot of cool tools recruiters can use to find people on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, if you’re not already on these platforms, don’t stress yourself and join them. Most recruiters don’t use the cool tools if they don’t have to. So you don’t need to stress yourself more by setting up and having to learning new social media platforms.

There is only one social media account you’ll want to set up if you don’t have one and update if you do and that’s LinkedIn. This social media platform is the single most used tool by recruiters.

Here are some guidelines regarding establishing/updating your LinkedIn Profile.

1. The Summary – Use the Summary to provide a snap shot of your skills and your Work Objective. State specifically that you’re currently searching for your next job and what type of job you’re looking for.
2. Job Titles – Under your Name, when using words to describe yourself, use job titles for positions that you’re interested in obtaining.
3. Make your Work Experience brief – Once again don’t write a novel when you’re adding/modifying your work experience. Make your bullet points abbreviated and meaningful. Make it easy for recruiters to scan your achievements. Make your ‘current position’ as ‘seeking new employment’. By doing so, when your profile comes up in a recruiter’s search they’ll see right away that you’re open to hearing from them.

The single biggest factor in finding the next job is being persistent in your search. To help you focus check the  3/50 Plan to Conduct Your Job Your Job Search.

Finally let’s address the mental aspects of searching for a job. Regardless of the age, searching for a job can be daunting, frustrating, overwhelming, stressful – well, you get the picture. When you’re over 50 and searching, thoughts like you’re too old, no one wants you, you’re never going to find another job again, can send you into a tailspin.

Here’s a tip on countering those negative thoughts when they come. Every time your mind shoves a negative thought to the front, counter the thought as follows:

Negative thought: I’m too old. My best days are over.

Counter: I’m a mature adult with a lot of life experience that someone is going to be lucky to get. My best days are yet to come.

Negative thought: Employers are going to take one look at how old I am and won’t hire me.

Counter: Employers are going to see my enthusiasm and my value and are going to be lining up to hire me.

Negative thought: I’m never going to be able to find work.

Counter: Jobs are being dropped in my lap one after another. I’m going to have multiple offers to choose from.

Get my point?

Your thoughts don’t control you. YOU control your thoughts. It’s just as easy to have a positive thought pop into your mind as it is a negative one. It doesn’t matter how many times negative thoughts pop into your mind keep countering them.

Finding a job is as much a mental game as it is an actionable one. Whatever the reasons you find yourself unemployed put them behind you and look forward.

The sun will come up and you will find a job!

I’m going to leave you with one last point. If you’ve sent out fifty to a hundred resumes to jobs that you know you are qualified to do and no one has contacted you, consider having a professional look at your resume.

Now go get ‘em!

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