The fallout of the recession is older people are either without jobs and are on a job hunt or some are contemplating a career change because their current jobs may be at risk. But, when they get down to searching for a job they find the going tough because companies usually prefer younger employees.
Though experience comes with age, research says that older people find it difficult to land a job especially after a layoff. The reasons are companies probably fear that they will expect bigger salaries and will not stick on with the job that pays less than what they were previously earning. Compared to this, younger workers would be willing to work for lesser salaries and are likely to stay longer in the job.
Older job seekers are up against many factors when they are on a job hunt. To counter this some have resorted to modifying their resumes like omitting their graduation dates or making their job experience appear more concise. One career consultant advises on keeping dates off resumes, he says there is no real need for employers to know these dates, this can give them reasons to reject the application at the initial stage itself. Another way to modify the resume is to focus on qualities like creativity; enthusiasm and technological skills, which are readily associated with younger workers and may remove some of the bias the company may have against older workers.
Career experts suggest that a resume that shows varied experience can indicate that the applicant can succeed in a new field because some of that experience is related to the job in question. A functional resume where the experience is classified into skills instead of a chronological order works well to showcase the different skills of the applicant. As Lewis Benavides, associate vice president for human resources at Texas Woman’s University says, “I always tell people, especially the older ones, you should always have a resume tailored for the job you want. Yes, it takes more time, but it’s the only way.”
Straight facts: Some companies use software where certain keywords and specific terms are detected while scanning the resume. Usually the advertisement for the job contains these words and can be incorporated into the resume. But, older job seekers must be careful not to fudge facts about their experience or age.
A job hunt is also a good time for older workers to brush up their appearance and make an attempt to look energetic and confident. Once at the interview the frequent query they are posed is, “Aren’t you overqualified for the job?” One way to handle this is to display enthusiasm for the job and not show desperation. Older workers have to stress on their skills and achievements at the interview rather than relate their years of experience.
Companies think twice before hiring older workers because they fear they may be less flexible to change and are not familiar with the latest technology. So, older job-hunters can use the time between jobs to familiarise themselves with the latest technology and even get into social networking.
Network now: Networking whether online or offline is important for them because their resumes are not given as much value as they deserve and when they have people in their network putting in a good word, it certainly can work in their favour. Facebook or Twitter can help older job seekers get in touch with a younger age group in their profession and know about the latest developments and job openings.
Mentioning familiarity with such technology and the use of social networking can work in their favour, because even if they are old, employers will appreciate that they are comfortable using the latest technology and can work efficiently.
While modifying the resume and building a network is important, it is necessary to track the latest developments in the companies the job-seeker is interested in, it is also necessary to follow up on the interviews. Keeping in touch with contacts and leads that have potential to help find a job is important. Exploring different avenues to search for a job and even opting for volunteering jobs can keep the job search going.
Finally, it is the attitude that matters, older workers must stop thinking their age as a barrier, rather they should tackle the challenge with confidence and they can soon find a job.