The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


June 13, 2014

Job-searching tips for the over-50s

There are about 77 million baby boomers (born between 1946-1963) in the United States, and some estimate that 42 percent are delaying retirement and 25 percent say they'll never retire.

The challenge is that for those over the age of 50, it takes 20 percent longer to get hired than a similarly trained 41- to 45-year-old.

Recently, I served as the keynote speaker for a career expo for an "Over 50" group of job seekers sponsored by the Jewish Council for the Aging, Fairfax County, Va., and The Washington Post's Capital Business weekly. More than 1,000 attended, including numerous employers, and it offered many informational sessions. I delivered my top 10 career tips for the over-50 job seekers:

1. Network.

One of the best ways to get a job is by a recommendation from someone you know. You should be networking with people who can provide you with referrals — friends, family, mentors, past colleagues, people at companies you are targeting, etc. It is critical to always carry business cards with you. Use these events to brand yourself. Practice introducing yourself in less than 30 seconds: Give your "elevator pitch" (eye contact, smile, firm handshake), and be sure to share something unique to stand out.

2. Prepare for the process.

The job application process is not the same as it was in the past. You could be asked to complete various assessments, be part of multiple interviews, be asked to give presentations, among other hurdles. Take the time to find out what you might encounter.

3. Update your resume.

Focus on highlighting the past 10-15 years of skills and jobs rather than your entire 30+ years of experiences. Employers want to know whether you can do the job now, not what you did over your entire lifetime. If possible, fill in gaps in your resume with activities such as volunteer work, classes, certifications, starting a business, etc. List all technology credentials, including recent training and certifications. Try to leave off age identifying information (dates you went to college; older skills, such as obsolete programming languages). Be sure you have your resume information on LinkedIn and other career-oriented websites.

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