Ageism grips many in the job hunt. No one doubts it can be more difficult for more experienced workers to land new opportunities and you feel stuck in a job search rut. Some overlook your application because you are deemed "overqualified," and others discriminate because they believe older workers will demand too much money. Still others worry that you are not technologically savvy and many employers are concerned workers over 50 are not flexible enough to keep up with their quickly changing priorities.
The best way to get a job when you're over 50 is to address and overcome all of these concerns in the job search and application process. If you are concerned your age may be preventing you from landing a job take the following steps to stay relevant in a fast-changing workforce:
1. Apply for Appropriate Jobs
When you apply for jobs you are clearly overqualified for, you encourage employers to wonder how long you will be willing to stay in the position before bolting for something better. They don't consider you relevant for these positions, even if you would be thrilled to take the job. If you want to be considered for positions, apply for jobs you're not overqualified to do.
Consider shifting your focus to a new industry if your field is not hiring, but do not send hundreds of resumes for entry-level positions if you have 20 years of experience if you want to hear back.
2. Be Upfront About Salary Needs
In order to successfully stay relevant regarding strategy, you need to stay in-the-know about expected salaries for the positions that interest you. Research sites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com and talk to people in your field to assess target salaries for each organization where you'd like to work. Most applications will ask for target salary, and if you can comfortably answer with a relevant range, it may help hiring managers feel more comfortable calling you for an interview with the understanding that they could afford your asking price.
3. Demonstrate You Understand and Use Technology
If you think LinkedIn is the latest video game craze and you've stayed off of social media because it's "not for people like you," you may as well be holding up a sign that says "too old for today's workplace." Embrace technology, get a Smartphone and learn how to use social media tools to get a job. Employers are turning in greater numbers to social media because they are finding better candidates there and the technology saves them time and money.
Think of these tools as an extension of your in-person networking activities and as an opportunity to grow the number of people who know, like and trust you enough to refer you to speak to someone they know for an information meeting or a job.
4. Be Flexible
A stereotype about older workers is that they are more likely to want to do things how they've always done them in the past and may not be open to change. One way to overcome this stereotype is to incorporate and highlight problem solving, creativity and ability to learn new skills in your application materials. Describe your recent accomplishments and how you used current techniques and approaches to overcome obstacles. Incorporate keywords in your application materials to indicate you are up-to-date on the latest thinking in your field.
If you are having trouble fulfilling this suggestion, it may be time to take a class to help you pick up the newest information you need to know. An added benefit: when you engage in continuing education related to your field, you demonstrate your interest in learning new things, which will help you overcome stereotypes and help you land a job faster.
More from Miriam Salpeter
10 Reasons You Aren't Getting the Job
Remarkably Easy Ways to Expand Your Network
Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview