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Four Survival Tips for Older Job Seekers

Are you an "older worker"?

Don't feel bad, I am too. Hanging on in today's major recession has proven to be a monumental task. Many job seekers have lost that battle already.

It's a tough world today, much changed from a few short months ago. The past 18 months have brought with it the harsh reality of a changed landscape.

I talk with older job seekers almost every day. Like their younger counterparts, they've been caught flat-footed by this economic recession. Whereas before, many were able to advance their careers through word of mouth, they now feel caught totally off guard in a job search world that seems foreign.

While it's true that some employers believe that hiring older workers helps add more diversity and a new perspective to the company, don't count on employers beating a path to your door any time soon.

If you're new to this job search world, take the following actions right now to increase your chances of getting hired:

  1. Widen Your Online Footprint

    Job search has evolved tremendously over the past two years with the explosion of an Internet phenomenon called social networking. With the advent of social networking sites, anyone can upload and update their profile to the Internet. There are a number of these sites on the web today including LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and, of course, Twitter. The two that you absolutely MUST join first are LinkedIn and Facebook. These are great resources for building your online profile. You can also utilize their tools, like Facebook's Groups, to reach out and widen your network with others.

    If you haven't done so already, visit both LinkedIn and Facebook to establish a profile page that describes who you are to inform others about you. Keep it professional, but spin it your way. Whet the appetites of visitors to your page. Describe yourself with a brief sentence, a Unique Selling Proposition. Explain what distinguishes you from others in your field. Include your previous employers as well as the briefest descriptors about you. Once done, you'll have an online presence. This is important because almost all recruiters and most hiring managers today regularly visit both LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit new candidates and investigate referrals. If your profile is found on these sites, you'll improve your chances of winning a job in today's job market.

  2. No Whining

    With some employers there WILL be an age bias. That's reality and there's no getting around it. Too often though, older workers feel they have to apologize for their years of experience. Remind yourself that youíre experienced, not old. Youíre seasoned, not over-the-hill. Youíre here-and-now, not history. Itís all about spin and reframing, so drop the apologies.

    You may be an older worker, but youíre not stupid, and youíre not dead. Use your savvy to sell against youth and inexperience. There are advantages to being older, such as having wisdom and common sense, and a long work record of accomplishments that can translate into benefits to the employer. Sell your track record. During the interview, take advantage of your successful work history to address the needs of the employer.

  3. Talk MONEY, Not Years

    We mentioned "track record" above. Realize that hiring managers today are looking for results, not years. Talk the language that an employer understands and appreciates, which is Return-on-Investment. Instead of citing 20-years of experience, identify your benefits to the employer. Put them into monetary terms as much as possible. Back up your accomplishments with facts that are benefit-based. Sell them from the perspective of the end result of your work, and how it positively impacted your present and previous employers.

    Money talks, and it talks loudly. Hereís some good news: Money can trump age. As an employee, you either make money or save money for your employer. If the hiring manager doesnít see your value in one of these two categories, then you donít want to work for the company. In this recession, if the company isnít concerned about its bottom line, then it may not be around for long, and isnít a viable option for you anyway. Get as close to money as you possibly can through the language of your accomplishments, and list them on your resume.

  4. Modify Your Resume

    Take another look at your resume. Ask, "Would I hire myself for this position?" You canít do anything about your age, and you canít change the cultural and employment biases against older workers. But you can stack the job hunting deck in your favor by reworking your resume to emphasize your strengths. Spin your story in your favor. Make sure everything relates in some way to your desired job objective. Drop old work history from your resume. You generally shouldn't need to show more than ten years' work history. Any prior work is most likely irrelevant now, bores the reader, and emphasizes your age. Remove obvious roadmarkers like dates. Remove college degree dates and professional training dates that may go back more than a few years. Of course you've been around a while, but you don't have to shine a flashing light on this fact.

Summary

Don't let your age make you feel one-down in the hiring process. Focus on the employer's needs by providing solid Return-On-Investment answers to their questions. Emphasize your strengths. Don't magnify your vulnerabilities. Do this to find a great job regardless of the economy.

- Joe Turner, The "Job Search Guy"