The recent film ‘The Intern’ depicted the story of a retired widower in his 70s, played by Robert De Niro, who returns to work as a senior citizen intern at a tech start-up. This movie highlights a scenario that is playing out more and more in the world of work. Whether out of financial necessity or desire for sense of purpose and stimulation, mid-life career transitions are becoming more prevalent.
While older workers may possess more knowledge and experience than their younger counterparts, they do face challenges re-entering the workforce. Older job seekers need to demonstrate that they are current and can contribute. Here are some job search strategies for more experienced workers.
Age Proof Your Résumé
Job seekers are often tempted to put every work experience they’ve had on their résumés, no matter how long ago it occurred. While you no doubt have valuable work experiences, you run the risk of making yourself look too old if you include all of them. Don’t go back any further than 10 – 15 years on your résumé. Consider these key résumé tips:
- Don’t say you’ve got 30 years experience in your industry; instead summarize your experience by saying 10+ years in your industry
- Omit the dates you graduated from school if they are not recent
- Don’t list every skill that you’ve ever acquired
- Highlight up-to-date skills using accomplishment statements
- Highlight your strengths that you bring with you
- Bonus tip: make sure your email address does not give your age away with an address like firstname.lastname@example.org
Job-seekers are often tempted to spend most of their job searching efforts hunkered down behind their computers and shooting out applications. Your efforts are better spent networking.
- Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work and ask for contact names or information about companies, jobs, industries, opportunities
- Re-cultivate old contacts, even if it has been years
Do you have a social media presence on sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter? Employers will research potential candidates online so having some sort of digital presence is important to looking up-to-date. Age proof your social media profile using these tips:
- Make sure you have a recent professional looking photo
- Smile in your photo! Not smiling can make your photo look like a mug shot
- Make sure the dates and experiences on your profile do not go back further than 15 years
Your job is to convince the interviewer that you have the same energy, passion and up-to-date skills as younger workers and more! Consider these interview tips:
- Make the effort to look polished and positive
- Don’t focus on how you used to ‘do it in the old days’
- Talk about your strengths and how you can contribute to the employer now and in the future
- Show energy and enthusiasm in your answers
- Talk about your experience, that you know how to take responsibility and can hit the ground running
- Demonstrate that you are willing to learn and grow
As an older job-seeker it’s about age proofing how you present yourself and, at the same time, not short selling your experience and on-going ability to grow and contribute.