Online Job Search Tips for Older Workers
By Casey Dowd
The internet has changed the job-hunting process for all generations. Whether you are a baby boomer, generation Xer or Millennial, online job searching is key. What's surprising is that older workers might be beating out their younger counterparts when it comes to online job searching.
Generation Y consulting firm Millennial Branding and Beyond.com recently released a survey of more than 5,000 job seekers consisting of baby boomers, generation X and Millennials that shows all age groups are spending the majority of their job hunt online, but some age groups are faring better than others.
Younger generations are more optimistic than their parents about finding work in today's job market, according to the survey, but they are not as effective when it comes to using social media to land a job. Baby boomers conduct the most online job searches with 96% reporting hopping online for their job hunt, compared to 95%of Gen X and 92% of Gen Y.
Online job boards are every generation's top job-finding resource with company websites coming in second. Close to 30% of baby boomer respondents reported using social networks to find a job, with 27% of Gen X and 23% Gen Y using sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
I spoke with Rich Milgram, CEO of career network Beyond.com to discuss the findings in the survey and how baby boomers can best use the internet to gain employment.
Boomer: Other than posting resumes on job boards, what other ways can job-seeking boomers find work?
Milgram: As the job search migrates online, boomers must embrace technology. While many have, there are still people who are not comfortable using the Internet, so when boomers suddenly find themselves searching, the Internet will play a critical part in their career path.
Searching for job opportunities on general job boards is a nice way to see what's out there, however, as most jobseekers are increasingly taking that same avenue, the likelihood of establishing contact with recruiters and hiring managers decreases.
Establishing a strong personal brand and marketing yourself will increase boomers' odds of finding a job. Both of these steps are more important and accessible online, yet most candidates ignore this critical area and rely on generic resumes. Personal branding includes making sure that your resume, cover letters and other materials are relevant to every job opportunity and establish why you are uniquely qualified. It also includes ensuring that employers who are searching for your information can easily get a well-rounded picture of your skills and capabilities.
Another tip all job seekers need to keep in mind is to be sure to establish the legitimacy behind job postings and to do research to make sure a company is reputable before submitting personal information.
Boomer: What is a well-rounded job hunter?
Milgram: Being a well-rounded job hunter can be broken-down into two aspects. The first is how one looks for a job. Eighty-seven percent of boomers turn to job boards first during their search, but that shouldn't be their only tactic. Online job searching can be a powerful tool, but don't limit your efforts.
Job seekers of all ages should have a presence online through career and social networks . Not having online profiles can hurt their search because companies are increasingly posting openings on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, with the surge in smartphones in recent years, candidates should add a career-related app to their devices to stay current on new positions and job trends.
What most people find challenging as they strive to become well-rounded job hunters is in-person interaction. Our studies show that the boomer generation has an easier time reaching out to friends or colleagues for possible opportunities compared to their Gen X and Gen Y cohorts. This is most likely because boomers didn't grow up with resources like the Internet, social media or text messages. While these platforms have made our lives easier, they have also hindered our communication skills, especially among millennials.
The second aspect of a well-rounded candidate is the ability to demonstrate value as an employee. Boomers bring perspective and experience in a number of areas and they need to balance showing their focus and being a well-rounded employee in their applications.
It is imperative that candidates customize their resume and cover letter for each opportunity to highlight to recruiters that they have the precise experience they are looking for. In addition, candidates must perceive the interview as an opportunity to further demonstrate an overall perspective of the company or process that will enable them to be an effective employee.
Boomer: What steps should be taken by baby boomers to create robust profiles?
Milgram: Our study found that 65%of boomers feel like they suffer from age discrimination and while this bias probably won't go away completely, there are ways to create a strong online profile that doesn't give away your age. As mentioned previously, personal marketing and branding is an important skill to have especially now that the job market has largely moving online.
A strong online profile will increase job prospects.
Here are some tips to keep in mind as boomers create a resume and online presence:
1) Shorten your resume. You have two options to condense your resume, either only go back 10 to 15 years in your experience or create a functional resume that highlights relevant skills at the top and then details impressive job titles towards the bottom. By downplaying your titles you'll appear to be a less intimidating candidate to a likely, younger hiring manager.
2) Choose your words carefully. Avoid using terms like "seasoned" or phrases like "x-number of year of experience." Both hint that you're an older candidate. Also, don't use outdated phrases or include outdated skills that are no longer relevant to the workplace.
3) Briefly mention education experience. There are mixed thoughts out there when it comes to listing dates related to education, but it will reveal your age so our suggestion is to keep that section short.
4) Keep your skills current. Regardless of how many years of experience you have, there's always something new to learn. By staying up-to-date in your field with your skill set you'll show hiring managers that you're eager to stay active in the workplace and have just as much to offer (if not more) than those applicants from Gen X or Gen Y.
Boomer: Is there a way for boomers to use social media to research companies and hiring managers?
Milgram: Using social media sites to research companies and people is a great way to get the inside scoop on an organization, but most baby boomers already know this.
Most companies have a presence on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and by following or "Liking" their pages, you can learn about what drives the company's success, keep tabs on the organization's latest moves and engage with the brand even before seeking employment with them.
Social media engagement can have a more casual tone than say a corporate website, and can sometimes provide an exclusive look behind the corporate curtain for an insider's view of what's going on at the firm. Information like this can help you standout as the perfect fit when you apply for a position or go through the interview process. When it comes to researching information on hiring managers, LinkedIn is the logical option to make a professional connection.
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