An older professional re-entering the workforce or changing jobs faces a number of challenges in today’s society.
Ageism and social stigmas contribute to negative perceptions and less opportunities for older workers, in particular for those that are currently unemployed. It’s not uncommon to hear questions regarding older workers’ relevancy and ability to perform in today’s dynamic, technology-driven business environment. Speculative queries such as these are largely unfounded and typically ignore the years of hard earned experience and expertise older workers have put forward.
To a certain extent, work defines who we are. Older job seekers have a need, and a right, to work alongside their younger counterparts. So how you can get back in the game once you have been downsized or have lost your job due to the recession? Here are three helpful tips to consider in your job search and professional career:
1) Keep Learning: Older job seekers need to push the limits of their experience and enhance their skill-set to stay relevant. By taking on new challenges, older job seekers can prove to prospective employers that their minds are limber and open to new ideas. To encourage growth, consider volunteering or taking a class at the local community college. Both are good resume builders for older workers who have been out of workforce for a while. Trying new things is the best way to spark creativity and prove that you’re ready to drive innovations at work. Learning in and after middle age requires special attention – the best approach is to treat it like excerise: make a routine that you stick to.
2) Stay Vibrant: Often times older individuals are accused of being worn out and tired. If an interviewer or employer attempts to pigeonhole you into this category, by all means, prove them wrong. Cite various skills and talents you possess that would be advantageous on the job. Speak with the enthusiasm of a recent college grad and the passionate eloquence of an industry expert. Only in this way will your interviewer understand your vigorous drive for success. Long work hours are now demanded and expected from most professional jobs as well. One preconception that your interviewer might harbor against you is that you won’t work the hours that younger professionals might. This is factually incorrect (younger professionals are often embroiled in young family life, for example, when older workers have more time to devote to their careers.) Emphasize your commitment to work and give solid examples of your dedication and energy in relation to a specific project.
3) Stand behind your Accomplishments: More than ever, older workers need to showcase their accomplishments to prove they are valuable. These job seekers will need a top-of-the-line resume that outlines years of experience and highlights the best of their skills in order to impress hiring managers. Your experience is what you have going for you – don’t be afraid to flaunt specific accomplishments, business results, or accolades. At the same time, set new goals that are in line with age and the career path you want to explore – it will give you a new sense of purpose and enhance drive for success.
Preconceived notions of older professionals actually block hiring managers from hiring a lot of great, experienced talent. Ageism is rampant in our society, in particular in certain technology driven industries. If you are an older professional out of a job, it’s good to be aware of some of the hurdles that you may face. Keep in mind of course, to not let these potential issues get you down – although common, not every hiring manager or employer carries these negative preconceptions. Be sure to stay positive, get prepared, and put your best foot forward to find a new job. Good luck!