Many people are working well beyond the traditional retirement age, partly out of necessity and partly because they still want to contribute and are not ready to retire.
Whether you’ve been laid off, you’re retired and looking for something to do, or need a little supplemental income, here are some tips on how to find a job when you are older.
Almost half of boomers have saved less than $10,000 for retirement. So, the financial necessity to stay employed is a real one, and believe it or not, working past retirement is a great opportunity. No matter where you find yourself, it is best to start by gauging your financial situation.
How long can you sustain your current lifestyle? How much do you need going forward? The reality is that you will probably not be hired at the rich salary you had been making. You may want to rethink your retirement age and also consider when to collect social security.
This may be just the impetus you need to consider the kind of work you want to do at this stage in life. Maybe moving to a whole new field will give you more personal satisfaction. Remember Robert De Niro in the movie The Intern. Losing your job may well be finding your life.
If you prefer to stay in the field you know, then you may consider consulting. If you know the industry well, you may identify products or services that solve key issues in that industry.
You will need some lag time to get up and running, so make sure you consider how long you can last without a paycheck and benefits. You may also take a part-time job while building your business on the side.
Something important you will need is a business plan. SCORE, a national non-profit organization affiliated with US Small Business Administration, advises small businesses on these issues. You may have a similar agency in your country.
Consider starting a blog or podcast. It’s a great way to test the waters and get a feel for what people want. These become important marketing tools for your business and lead to business creation. It can also help if you seek employment. College classes on entrepreneurship are also a good option.
Taking a Job
If you choose to become employed, think about finding jobs at smaller organizations, including nonprofits, start-ups, small trade associations and niche educational programs. Typically, these employers operate with spare staff and depend on the experience and expertise that come with age.
A career coach can help you if you want to change your field of work. And you must have a complete LinkedIn page as this is the new resume.
Half of all jobs come through a network. You may be out of practice after years of security on the job, so now you need to find groups where you can interact. For example, my Rotary service not only fulfills a need to give back but also puts me in contact with other business professionals.
You might also consider volunteering for a board position. All of these things set you up for success.
Unfortunately, ageism is a fact of life in society. If you are a job seeker over 60, what can you do to combat it? Make ageism work in your favor.
Some employers believe older people only want to work for a short time, compared with younger people. When researchers look at that question, it is actually the opposite.
Older workers tend to be more loyal and stick around longer than the younger worker. The younger worker is moving around to acquire new skills. We see that with the Millennials.
Another obstacle is the perception that older workers are less productive and energetic. But we know that they are as productive as any other age group. The variations are between workers, not age groups. To counteract that stereotype, an older worker who is physically fit can exude a get-up-and-go attitude.
Some employers also believe older job applicants expect high salaries or are overqualified. Most people over 60 are happy and willing to go back to a position they had a few years ago, if it gets them back doing work they’re qualified to do and want to do. But again, you have to set your expectations.
A lack of technology savvy is also a misperception. That is why engaging on social media, having a blog, and tweeting is important. Consider this post from a LinkedIn colleague:
“I hired a person over 60. Should not be a big deal, but it was. People said: ‘He will never work hard enough,’ ‘He will not fit into our culture,’ ‘He will be taking a lot of sick days,’ ‘He is overqualified,’ etc.
Nobody said he was too old. They were all ‘politically correct.’ He was one of the best hires I ever made. We all learned from him. He made a huge difference for the company.”
Here are some helpful tips and some misconceptions to keep in mind if you are actively, or soon will be, looking for a job.
Fact: It Is Impactful to Network with Human Resource Managers
One of the many roles human resources serves is to fill open job requisitions. Often, there are numerous requisitions in the pipeline, and the No. 1 priority is to fill these jobs. Requesting to network with people in human resources is in your best interest.
Fiction: You Will Land and Interview for Each Job to Which You Apply
If you’ve purposely submitted a vague or general résumé with the hope that a recruiter will call for more details, think again. Most of the time, you will not receive a call.
Recruiters, human resources staff, and the hiring manager only call you if you are a good match for the job. If your application and résumé don’t show how you are a perfect match for the job, the recruiter has very little interest in speaking with you.
Fact: The Best Time to Look for a Job After 50 Is When You Already Have One
Now, who would put themselves through this arduous task when they already are working? Looking for work is a full-time job itself!
The smart person, in this case, is always assessing the market, researching opportunities and if applicable, taking interviews. This process will keep you current, fresh, in the market, and aware of the trending that occurs within your chosen industry or the one you may seek to enter.
Besides, when we look for a position while having one, we are relaxed and not fearful, knowing that worse-case, we still have our present position. This allows for a real and perhaps more confident interview process with us more in control, sans the desperation and timing issues that accompany a jobless search process.
Fiction: The Best Time to Network Is After the Job Has Been Posted
If you are interested in finding a job after 50, it’s never too early to start networking. Imagine… you see the perfect job posted and believe you’re a match. With great excitement, you reach out to someone inside the company only to be ignored. You’re doing the right thing, so why isn’t it working?
The reason: you’re too late to the party. That job has probably been circulating inside the company for weeks. The person you are contacting may even be in the running for the job.
The best time to network is in advance of job opportunities being posted. In fact, networking after a job has been posted really isn’t networking – it’s tracking down a job. That’s not bad – in fact, it’s recommended – but it’s not truly networking.
Your résumé is at a minimum your calling card and your public face. Along with your cover letter and LinkedIn profile, your résumé tells your story to a stranger who is considering another stranger (you) for a position in their company.
A powerful, compelling, unique, and honest résumé will tell the tale and serve its singular purpose: to get you that interview.
Fiction: You Should Expect to Hear a Response Soon After You Apply
After you have taken time to strategically apply for a desired position, you assume that you’ll soon hear something. The reality is that you may never hear back from the company. In fact, this is more the norm than not.
Plan to follow up with someone in human resources after you have submitted your application. Ask what the time frame is for filling the job, and then ask if your application was received.
Always end every conversation by asking when you should follow up next and with whom. Don’t be bashful or hesitant. However, don’t wait by the phone, mailbox, or inbox. Finding work is a numbers game. Play that game well and make the numbers work for you.
Every company has a different policy regarding references. Seldom will your references get checked while résumés are being reviewed or early in the interview process.
It costs time and money to verify references, and if there are multiple candidates applying and interviewing, this can be a costly investment. That said, references will be contacted once you have been identified as a viable candidate and an offer is made.
Be prepared with a minimum of three professional and two personal references. Only a few may be checked but your confidence in providing these names will be the final determinant in an employer’s hiring process and you ending up with the position you desire.
Fiction: Finding a Job After 50 Only Requires You to Apply to Positions Online
You may believe that if you apply to enough jobs, you’ll eventually beat the odds and land one. While applying to jobs may make you feel productive, most jobs are either filled internally or through referrals.
When you spend all your time and energy scoping out jobs and applying, you’re hurting your chances of landing a position.
The formula is to cast a wide net searching through networking, looking online, using recruiters, attending professional association meetings, volunteering, and meeting new people every day.
Remember, more than 70 percent of people land jobs through networking, and 93% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) report that they award work based upon chemistry alone.
You can’t assure that someone will read your cover letter. In reality, some people will never read a cover letter, and others won’t look at your résumé until after reading your cover letter.
The bottom line is that you should always include a customized cover letter that explains specifically why you are interested in and qualified for the job and shares something about the company to show that you are a great fit.
If you don’t take the time to do this, then why should the company take time to review your qualifications for the job?
Most applications now require this alongside your résumé. It’s your chance to tell your story using more text and fewer truncated bullet points to do so. Make it compelling and well-written. Remember, the goal of a cover letter is to get hiring managers to learn more about you on their way to inviting you in for an interview.
There are a lot of resources out there aimed at helping mature workers find work:
Workforce50.com: For job seekers 50 and over; formerly called Senior Job Bank.
Retired Brains: For older boomers, seniors, and retirees.
Seniors4Hire: Nationwide online career center.
RetireeWorkforce.com: For retirees and mature workers.
How about you? Have you been downsized but still desire employment? What is your story? Did you retire and pursue a passion into a business? Please share with the community.