[This article originally appeared on the Virtual Vocation blog here.]
Although The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination in the workplace against professionals over the age of 40, as many as 64% of workers report they have witnessed or suffered age discrimination in their place of employment, according to AARP.
Our Year-End Report Survey showed us that nearly half (46.3%) of our respondents are telecommuting job seekers over the age of 50, many of whom struggle to overcome the challenges and stereotypes associated with older professionals seeking work. When you talk, Virtual Vocations listens!
We’ve developed a list of solutions to some of the job search hurdles experienced by older professionals re-entering the job market. If you’re feeling stuck in your job search, try out these seven tips:
1. Update Your Technology Skills
While you don’t need to become a technology whiz to score a new gig, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the latest software needed to do your job. If you’re not up to speed, talk to a former colleague or acquaintance within your industry about what tools they’re using on a daily basis, then do training on your own with the assistance of YouTube how-to videos or research webinars and online workshops to give you a crash course in tech trends.
You may also consider taking classes online to become an expert in a new program, then feature your educational pursuits near the top of your resume to demonstrate to prospective employers that you’re interested in ongoing learning, personal development, and advancing your skill set.
Bonus Tip: If appropriate, make sure you have a presence on social media networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, especially if you are interested in a remote marketing or social media role.
2. Condense Your Resume
As the largest and most comprehensive online database of telecommute-only jobs, we know a thing or two about navigating a saturated job market. Your keyword-rich resume and cover letter will get you noticed, especially if the employment process is automated.
When sprucing up your resume, consider eliminating or consolidating information that is more than 10 years old. Instead of listing every detail of your work history, focus on your most recent experience and accomplishments relevant to the job you’re currently seeking.
3. Research Employers
Research the company you want to work for to get a picture of their workforce and a feel for their company culture. Are the only employees connected with the company’s LinkedIn accounts under the age of 30? There are more diverse options out there. Does the company have a high turnover rate? You might want to steer clear. Despite how it may seem now, employers will reward professionals who are willing to stay for the long haul.
4. Practice Interviewing
When’s the last time you did a practice job interview? Chances are, your interview skills are a little rusty. Skype with a friend or recruit your partner to quiz you on your responses to common job interview questions. If you’d prefer to fly solo, record yourself discussing your resume highlights and delivering a thirty-second elevator pitch to sell yourself as a must-have candidate. Focus on conveying that you have the passion and energy to do the job and reinforce the breadth of experience under your belt.
5. Emphasize That You’re a Team Player
Perhaps the hiring manager is wondering how you’d feel about working under a superior who is half your age. Early on in the hiring process, put to bed any doubts by emphasizing how much of a team player you are, and have examples ready to share.
Reassure your potential employer that you are comfortable taking direction from anyone, no matter their age, and never make comments that could be interpreted as condescending. After all, is doubting a younger colleague’s ability to do their job any different than a younger co-worker questioning your relevance and competency as an older professional?
6. Be Flexible
Sure, the job market is on the upswing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean employers are willing to pay pre-recession salaries. If you can afford to be a little bit flexible with your salary demands, let your employer know that the opportunity to advance and acquire new skills is perhaps more important than locking in your dream salary right away.
7. Work Your Age Angle
During the hiring process, if your age does happen to come up, mention all of the positive qualities that older professionals are known for: reliability, loyalty, experience, customer relations and institutional knowledge to name a few.
Did you know that studies show older employees are more loyal than their younger counterparts? Now there’s something to brag about! It wouldn’t hurt to remind a prospective employer that your gratefulness for your job and the tendency for professionals aged 50+ to feel more satisfied in their work could mean more time and money saved on recruitment in the future.
Bonus Tip: Be aware of your vocabulary to ensure you aren’t coming across as insecure about your age. Remember, you’re not old—you’re experienced.