Ask Wendy!

I frequently receive questions through “Ask Wendy” on the Gen Plus blog. This one addresses the heart of the issues surrounding 50 plus jobseekers.

I am 52 and have been unemployed, after 30 years in Banking, for the last 4 years. How can I convince others that I don’t care if I’m over qualified for a clerk or receptionist job and get them to choose me over the 20 something’s out there?

TB

Dear TB

Thank you for your question. You are facing exactly the sort of issues that most 50 plussers are dealing with right now. You’ve got lots of experience and are willing to take a position with less responsibility even if you are overqualified because you need or want to keep earning.

The most important thing is to realize that, in fact, it is very tough to change the minds of employers and it may take a really concerted effort to find a job. There are, however, many things that you can do and I’m confident that if you keep up the search you will find a job.

  • The first thing to do is to try to get interviews. That means you need to make use of every job board (Gen Plus included) that you can find. You do not EVER need to pay to search for or apply to jobs, nor should you. There are broadcast boards that appeal to all jobposters and all jobseekers and are widely used. They include the well known Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com. At Gen Plus we offer a niched job board…which means we only have employers listed that are verifiably 50 plus friendly. We also have an online interview that employers seem to like, so if you haven’t filled yours out yet, I’d suggest you do so. As well, there are newer job boards such as SimplyHired.com and postings on Craig’s List (craigslist.org) that cater to less mainstream employers. There are other niched boards, (very few in the 50 plus demographic) so it may be worthwhile to include a search for niche boards in your desired field too.

  • Post your resume on every site you can, but take a careful look at your resume first. For a first easy step, take off employment that is older than twenty years. Even if you were with one employer for those twenty years, you can add a line: additional employment history available upon request. Second, do not put in education graduation dates. Check out these links for past blog articles that can help you in creating your personal brand and making your resume active:
  • Once you feel your resume is vibrant and tells the story that you want it to, make sure that the experience you highlight is relevant to each job you are seeking. If you were a manager, but are applying for an administrative support position, focus on your administrative skills and downplay the management. Highlight your computer proficiency, or accounting experience, and projects that had a specific objective that would illustrate the type of support you want to offer.

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  • Next, you need to target the right kind of employers. There are certain industries that are youth-oriented, so there is no point in going up against impossible competition. Marketing? Forget it. Advertising? Nope. Publishing? I don’t think so. Startup or web-based companies? Not likely. Fortune 500’s? Rarely. Teen-based brands? NEVER! But there is hope.

Extra Tip: When you go to Gen Plus and search for jobs, plug in “national” as your keyword for locations and/or in the keyword field. You’ll get most of the bigger companies that are known to recruit from the 50 plus and boomer market. As well, on any site or in any community, look for smaller ads from small businesses. Look in your community papers, both the physical papers and their online ads. Many of them will still use traditional print ads or advertise on Craig’s List. Smaller businesses (less than 750 employees…but more likely around the 1-200 employee mark) are looking to get the most bang for their buck and would rather hire a 50 plusser with great experience than a Gen Y-er who will leave at the next job opportunity.

There are some industries that are very 50 plus friendly:

  • Healthcare (and this is ANY job in healthcare…not just RNs) – so check out listings at your local hospitals, as well as health insurance companies, hospices, long-term care, senior living, etc.;
  • Retail – becoming a bigger player. Consider Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Nordstrom’s, and the like;
  • Finance/Banking – I realize that you came from banking and are at your wit’s end with banking, but in reality banks cannot find experienced players, so don’t give up there. Extend interest in evening and weekend shifts and possibly management (although it looks from your question that you want to steer away from management) and you might get a bite;
  • Airlines – more and more airlines are turning to older workers as gate and customer service agents – check out US Airways (formerly America West) and Southwest Airlines if any of those hubs are near you;
  • Education – school districts are desperate for help and you might find that once you get into the city system (a bit challenging, but do-able), you can move up and around. A lot of 50 plussers are heading back to school and getting credentialed so that they can teach. And private schools and childcare are always looking for staff (their credentialing is pretty easy to get) although the pay is lower than at public schools.

When you get an interview, make sure that you are current – in your style and look, your hairstyle, your accessories – and up to speed on the company you are interested in. Do your homework. If you are rusty with your computer skills, brush up. You must have Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and be familiar with Outlook for a start. Find out what the company’s challenges are so that you can address them in your interview. Remember, no one can ask you your age and you are not required to give out information on your family status or anything that addresses your age (other than education graduation dates on a job application).

But most important of all: do not set out thinking that you are competing with a 20-something. Set out thinking about your assets and how you can help a company overcome their challenges. Just don’t give up. We’ve had many jobseekers use our job boards and get information from our blog. It doesn’t matter where they got their lead – from us or from any of the many job sites out there – but by not giving up, they were able to get work.

Stay positive and best of luck with your job search.

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