The average job search now takes between 5 and 9 months. Finding a job after 40 can take longer but don’t get discouraged. Anyone over 40 can have success if they incorporate some alternative search methods, revise their resume, refine their skills, and employ some new interview techniques. Here are four job search tips that will super-charge your success rate after 40:
1- Revise your resume to be “age-friendly” by emphasizing skills, technology, achievements, and ongoing training, over longevity and length of experience.
- Downplay your age on your resume by eliminating dates of graduation and only going back 10 years for your work experience. Limit the resume to 2 pages.
- Position yourself as an ideal fit for the job you’re applying to by creating a Branded Resume. This is a resume style that is focused for a particular type of job as opposed to a generic catch-all type document.
- Emphasize your experience with technology by listing all computer and software programs you are familiar with, and especially list your social media URLs (or add buttons) to you resume. This conveys that you are up-to-speed with Web 2.0 tools and have kept up with technology—a BIG factor in hiring 40-plus’ers.
- List key skills, accomplishments, and problems solved—giving concrete examples—as they relate to a certain type of position. Show how you contributed to the bottom line. Add an Ongoing Training section to the resume and show current and recent classes. This shows you’re keeping your skills up-to-date.
2- Employ new methods for uncovering positions.
- Ditch the job boards. Most jobs (up to 80%) go unadvertised, so utilize your network to arrange coffees, lunches, phone calls or meetings, so you can convey what your job search goals are. Join trade groups, associations, MeetUp.com groups (hobby, social, and fun groups count too) to make new contacts.
- Be specific and able to explain precisely how you can help an organization (create a 30 Second Short Pitch) to be used in any possible networking situation.
- Work down your target list of companies looking for common contacts (2nd Level connections) in your LinkedIn account and or the person with the power to hire you. Goal: Arrange an informational interview with current or former employees. Use the LinkedIn InMail feature to contact a prospective hiring manager after you’ve applied to an open position or contact preemptively to introduce yourself and ask for 10 minutes of their time via phone.
- Set up a professional Twitter account and follow target companies, trade publications, and industry and occupational experts. Yes, people DO get hired off of Twitter. Link your LinkedIn account with your Twitter account and post at least once per week about an interesting professional blog or article or something you’ve done in the area of professional development.
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3- Project a contemporary image, speak with confidence and energy, and emphasize modern skills during the job interview.
- Image is everything. 1987 was a great year, but don’t dress like you’ve been in a time capsule since Bon Jovi was Livin’ on a Prayer. Dress for success and wear something contemporary. A look through the Macy’s or Nordstrom’s web site will give an idea on what’s “in” in terms of business fashion.
- Show energy and enthusiasm and be aware of body language. 93% of all communication is non-verbal. Confidence wins!
- Describe situations when you worked with or for a younger leader, acted as a mentor, and mention your attendance record and tenure with certain companies.
- Discuss how you use technology professionally (Mac, MS Office programs, etc.) and even personally (Facebook, smartphone, iPhone) and what bloggers you like to follow for up to date industry and occupation information. Mentioning familiarity with social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook will have a major positive impact.
4- Focus on industries and occupations that welcome older workers.
Healthcare, higher education, and government agencies all have higher-than-average percentages of older workers.
- Niche web sites: WorkForce50.com (over 50 job seekers), Jobs4Point0.com (over 40 job seekers).
- Volunteering can go a long way in keeping skills sharp, staying positive, and networking. Can use volunteer and professional development activities as answer to the common interview question, “What have you been doing since your last job?”
- Start your own business!