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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Job Hunting


Here are some top tips for landing a job as an older adult, whether you’re changing careers or supplementing Social Security.

Let’s face it: job hunting is never fun. It can be even more stressful, and more difficult to find a new job, as you advance in years. But whether you’re a professional seeking a career boost, a blue-collar worker looking for your next solid job, or a retiree trying to make some pocket change, there are a variety of tactics that can increase your chances. 

Finding a new job is not the same for an older adult as it is for someone in their twenties. Ageism is real, but so are the skills you have honed over a lifetime. We need to take a new approach to everything from writing a resumé to negotiating salary and benefits. And we have to make sure that we’re up to date for the industry we want to work in. 

The Gig Economy

Many older adults turn to the gig economy to make some money on a flexible schedule. While you give up benefits like a 401(k) or guaranteed wages, you may find that you love what you’re doing more than any corporate job in a cubicle. Here are four common opportunities:






Valuing Yourself

One idea is to look for sectors where your age will be viewed as an asset. Older clients often prefer an older professional, so is there a company that specializes in working with older adults? How about retirement services or healthcare? Or would you prefer guiding youth who could benefit from your experience and wisdom? Good fits might be nonprofits serving underprivileged schools or communities. Don’t underestimate your value.

Writing a Resumé

This obstacle alone can keep many seniors from getting a new job, but there’s a lot of help on the Internet these days. Remember that you are highlighting skills, not listing every job you’ve ever had. In fact, job experts suggest you concentrate on the last 10 to 15 years, and drop the year you graduated. Changing careers and wondering how you’ll make accomplishments relevant in your new field? Try this article on switching jobs that has links to a host of helpful tips, as well as a sample CV.

Using Contacts

One thing older adults have in their favor is contacts. Research shows that 80% to 85% of jobs are landed because of networking. Don’t just forward your resumé and cross your fingers. Tell acquaintances what kind of job you hope to find, and leave as much room as possible for a different field or application of your skills. Cast a wide net, but do provide your contacts with a list of talking points that detail how you fit roles that match your experience, says Adrian Turner, MBA and career coach. 

Using a Career Coach

If you are looking for an advanced position, it may well be worth your while to hire a career coach. A good job coach can polish your presentation, open you up to consider new jobs, offer insights into your skills, and boost your confidence. He or she can offer training to advance your career, or just telephone time to get you up to speed and approaching interviews with new vigor and self-esteem. 

Keeping Your Chin Up

There are few things more deflating than to hear “no” over and over again. Margaret Mitchell would know: Gone With the Wind was rejected 38 times before finding a publisher. Research psychologist Robert Baumeister said that it “takes four good things to overcome one bad thing.” Celebrate the smallest triumphs: forwarding your new resumé to three people, practicing for an interview, watching a youTube video about interviewing, remembering to feed your cat, not losing your mind. (And keep your sense of humor!) It’s okay to take a mental break and watch some really stupid TV or bake bread. Listen to a podcast on positivity (Happify, or HappiJar) or try slowing down your mind with some meditation. Write affirmations daily in a journal — it’s scientifically proven to boost mood.

Staying Current

You can’t expect to move smoothly into a new workplace without an up-to-date knowledge of trends in your field. If you haven’t been reading the latest books, try listening to 15-minute summaries on Blinkist, an app that offers thousands of recent and classic non-fiction books in the business world. Review trade journals, and know all of the insider social media, including podcasts and apps, that industry insiders are using or discussing.

Job Boards

Everyone knows about Monster and Indeed, but were you aware that AARP has a board with jobs for seniors? Also, take advantage of AARP’s job resources for older adults that offers a plethora of tips and opportunities for people on the hunt for work, from scientists and engineers to laymen. Don’t forget to search out local and regional job boards, which can be easier to use than the national listings. For example, the go-to site is for any nonprofit job in the region, from the highest to lowest level. 

State Department of Labor

Especially for folks who need some training, there’s no better place to start than your own state’s Department of Labor. For example, the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment (CDLE) collaborates with the local Colorado Workforce Centers to offer free or supplemental support training and educational opportunities through grants and federal funding. Some of the training programs offered are apprenticeships, educational programs and Pell Grant, Trade Adjustment Act (TAA), Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), and Unemployment Insurance (UI) approved training programs.

Training can include higher-paying jobs. One senior received her paralegal certificate, fully funded, through the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) in her home state of Florida. The Sunshine State also has a Professional Placement Network that funds Career Source  branches. This network will provide a comprehensive program: defining your career goals, creating your personal sales pitch, effective interviewing and negotiation strategies, relationship building and social networking, etc. You may locate similar programs in your state.  

Supplementing a Fixed Income

Sometimes you don’t want or need to work 40 hours a week, but some extra cash would sure come in handy and you’d like the camaraderie of fellow employees. In the age of the $15/hour job, you may find that a local position in retail is the perfect fit. Look for unexpected perks. One woman worked at fancy kitchen shop Williams Sonoma; the hours were inconsistent and the pay minimal, but she got a 40% employee discount and outfitted her dream kitchen. 

Job hunting as an older adult can be exciting as opportunities you’d never considered present themselves. It’s hard work to make a change, and it can be an exhausting process. But learning new skills, reaching out to old acquaintances and putting forward your best self can have lasting benefits.