Whether attempting to reenter the workforce or hold on to an existing position, mature job seekers, those ages 45 or older, face major challenges especially when competing with eager, ambitious young job seekers. There are a number of actions mature job seekers can take to make you more competitive in an increasingly competitive economy.
Reengineer your resume.
Don’t date yourself. Often times, mature job seekers are screened out of the competition before ever meeting anyone face to face, and it’s probably due to their age and what it implies. That may not be fair, or even legal, but it is a reality. Mature job seekers should be certain that their resumes do not give away any information or raise questions about age prior to getting selected for an interview.
This is how you create a fair playing field. Do not include education dates or obsolete skills, and include work history back only 10-15 years. To avoid appearing overqualified, you may indicate that you meet the required experience (10 plus years vs. 20 years) and leave the details for discussion during the interview. Remember, the goal of the resume is to get in the door for an interview.
Keep up with current trends.
It is also important to keep up with current resume trends such as excluding the phrase “References available upon request,” which was totally acceptable, if not expected, in past times. Another trend to be aware of is the increase from one page to two pages as the standard resume size.
Get more education and training.
Education is a way of updating employment skills. Most mature workers have developed job skills and attained some education; however, it may benefit mature job seekers to get retrained and bring your skills and education up to date. This is especially true in the area of technological developments.
Improve job search strategy.
Combine traditional online strategies such as networking, cold calling and attending career fairs with a strong online campaign including new media tools such as social networks, blogs, and podcasts. Visit websites and sign up with job boards that target more mature job seekers, such as www.aarp.org.
During the interview, be prepared to dispel myths and misconceptions that are generally associated with mature job seekers, such as resistance to change or too costly to afford. Employers may fear that a mature job seeker will not stay on the job long enough to realize a return on their investment.
Counter these assumptions by emphasizing the assets mature workers bring, such as experience, knowledge and the ability to mentor and train younger employees. Site accomplishments that demonstrate your flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to learn new skills and technology.