Job-hunting doesn’t necessarily get easier as you age. In fact, older generations face a unique set of challenges that their younger counterparts don’t. Even if you’re nowhere near ready to retire, hiring managers may be more likely to invest in younger, tech-savvy workers who are willing to accept lower pay. And job-hunting rules have changed significantly in recent years, resulting in a learning curve for anyone who’s more comfortable with the professional world of years past.
That said, Baby Boomers often have a lot to offer that younger generations can’t, including extensive experience, management and mentoring skills, and the ability to stay calm and confident in a crisis. By marketing yourself effectively, you can ensure that your resume stands out from the heap, and that you can continue your career path until you—and no one else but you—decide that it’s time to retire.
Reassess your resume. Surprisingly, this is often where Boomers are surpassed by younger workers who’ve been trained in modern resume-writing techniques. A few things to consider:
- Your resume is not a journal. You don’t need to tell your life story through your resume, but instead focus on the position you’re after and make sure to highlight the skills and experience relevant to that role.
- Leave off the outdated objective statement, and instead lead with a three- to five-point summary of your strongest qualifications.
- Try to avoid going back further than 10 or 15 years in your resume. You can cover your more extensive history in the interview, if the hiring manager is interested.
- Focus on accomplishments and results rather than a bullet list of your skills.
- If you’re applying for a job for which you’re overqualified, consider downplaying your title. For example, Senior Vice President of Sales could become Business Development Director or Sales Executive.
Use your network. After being in the workforce for so many years, you’ve undoubtedly built up a solid network of professional contacts. Use this to your advantage. Start by making a list of target companies you’d like to work for, find the names of hiring managers, then send an introductory email letting them know of your interest. Maybe invite them to lunch so you can discuss any future openings and where you might fit in. With any luck, you’ll be able to find out about a position before it’s even posted. The ultimate goal is to be ahead of the competition.
Don’t get stuck in your ways. Disprove the tired old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It’s important for Boomers to accept changes and show that they can be flexible. A valuable employee of any age will always be willing to learn new skills. Show your commitment to innovation by researching the latest news in your industry and becoming an expert. Let the potential employer know you’re up for a challenge and show that you love to try new things.
Dress the part. Baby Boomers arguably appreciate appropriate work wear more than younger generations that are accustomed to casual dress codes. But this isn’t always about ironing your shirt properly or investing in a good suit. A poorly chosen outfit or hairstyle could make you seem old-fashioned or out-of-touch. If it’s been years since your last image update, consider investing in a minor makeover to communicate that you are youthful, energetic, and confident.
Recognize that you may need to take a step back. Sometimes, you need to be willing to take a step back in order to learn new things. You have years of experience, but if you want to try a new role and acquire new skills, you may have to accept a slight decrease in salary and/or responsibility.
Adjust your attitude. There’s a good chance that the person interviewing you may be young enough to be your child. You may get the sense that they’re not respectful or appreciative of your past accomplishments, regardless of whether or not they’re relevant to the role. Rather than go into the interview with an attitude of entitlement, show your interviewer the same respect that you hope to receive—regardless of age.