By Mike Festa
Are you an older worker looking for a new job or an opportunity to try something new? Are you concerned that employers won’t be interested in someone 50+? Take heart: An AARP study released in 2015 debunked myths about age 50+ workers, showing that they have productivity advantages that can make them a critical component of a successful business.
The report, “A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015,” was prepared by Aon Hewitt. It found that the business case for employing workers age 50+ has grown even stronger in the last 10 years, reinforcing a 2005 AARP study that found that these experienced workers are highly motivated, productive, and cost effective.
It’s no secret that as our population ages, the workforce ages right along with it. U.S. employees ages 65 and older now outnumber teenagers in the workforce for the first time since 1948. In light of this, many employers are turning to experienced workers in order to maintain that competitive edge.
For those over 50 years of age in a job market where competition is ever-present, it can be difficult to find the right position. Trying to change careers or return to the job market after a long absence can be even more challenging. To help, AARP offers a variety of resources to assist in the transition back into the job market — or to help find a great new opportunity.
Following are tips to help you successfully strategize your job search:
Inventory your skills. Write down all of the skills you’ve acquired through work, volunteering, and hobbies, and then use them to market yourself to your next employer.
Identify jobs that need your skills and experience. The stronger the connection between your skills and potential jobs, the higher the chance you’ll get an interview.
Create more than one version of your resume in order to highlight skills pertinent to a specific job opening. Include keywords or industry-specific terms from the job description in each resume. Proofread each resume version — and accompanying cover letters — for any typographical or formatting errors.
Develop your personal brand. Skills and qualifications, achievements, passions, values, attire, and personal appearance are factors that set you apart from other applicants, thereby contributing to your personal brand. Think about who you are, what you do best, your life experiences, accomplishments and impacts at previous jobs, and identify future opportunities at which you would excel.
Practice for interviews. Rehearse how you will articulate your background and skillset in an interview. Also, do your homework by researching the company beforehand and be prepared to answer specific questions about the company’s work and why you want to contribute to the team.
Network. Use in-person meetings and social media networks like LinkedIn to find new business connections and find positions that match your skills. Identify hiring managers and present yourself as uniquely qualified for opportunities available at companies you are interested in. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and includes a recent and professional headshot.
Create a job application log. This will help you to stay organized when applying for multiple positions and ready when you receive a call for an interview.
Finally, understand that the job search has changed in recent years. Most job opportunities are now posted online rather than in newspapers. As such, when you apply for a job, know that your resume may first be “read” by screening software. Recruiters often use this and other technology to search resumes for keywords, which helps them sort candidates. That’s why it is important that your resume contains some keywords found in the job description.
For assistance with writing resumes and searching for jobs, and for many other resources to help you find the perfect opportunity for your skills and experience, visit www.aarp.org/work. AARP also has a series of online resources, including tip sheets and other tools, that can assist in your job search strategy; find these resources at www.aarp.org/OrderFinancialPubs.
Mike Festa is the state director for AARP Massachusetts.