Several sources state that people who are 40 or older represent 48% of the United States workforce. This is great news for those of us who are considered older Americans. The number of workers 55 and older is expected to increase to 20% by the year 2020, which will represent 1 out of 5 people employed. The idea that I can’t get a job because I’m too old or that employers want to hire younger people is not necessarily true. So what is an ‘old person’ to do?
Looking for work is the same no matter what age you are. Using age as a reason for not getting hired may be an excuse to justify the why. The why of not getting hired has many facets, and it may have more to do with attitude than having gray hair. It is up to the job seeker to convince an employer that he or she is the right person for the job, and offer information about achievements and skills that would benefit the employer. Below are some tips that may help you remove age as a barrier to employment:
Design your resume so it doesn’t reflect your age. One way to do that is to remove dates of trainings or degrees. If you graduated from high school in the 1960’s, you are old. Just kidding!! But I can quickly determine that you are at least 60 something. Being able to calculate age may cause an employer to look at the next resume in his stack.
Do you have employment listed that goes back too far? Avoid listing every job you ever had. It is best to keep jobs on your resume from the past 10-15 years. That would be difficult if you have worked 30 years for the same company. In that case you would want to focus your resume on your skills, qualifications, and achievements, and minimize the work history by placing it at the bottom of your resume.
An employer makes an assessment about a job seeker within the first few minutes of meeting them. What does your appearance look like? Give some attention to your hair: gray hair can look dignified and mature; a new haircut, style, and/or color can give a more youthful, energetic appearance.
Are you wearing ‘dated’ clothing that is out of style? A job seeker would benefit from purchasing a new outfit for interviews that looks classic but current. Can’t afford to buy new clothes? Workforce Solutions can assist qualified job seekers with getting a new outfit for interviews. One of the organizations we work with is called “Dress for Success.” Contact Staff in any Workforce Solutions office for a referral to that wonderful organization.
A positive attitude can go a long way in convincing an employer to take a chance on you. You may have heard the saying “As a man thinks, so he is.” If you think you are too old and no one will hire you, you may be engaged in a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other hand, if you had a bad previous employment experience and haven’t gotten over it, you may be carrying those feelings with you into an interview and portraying a negative image. Try reading some self-help books, or asking some of your trusted friends for feedback on areas of needed improvement. Staying positive throughout the job search process can give you a sense of purpose and may improve your self-esteem.
The most important skill a job seeker has is attitude which can help overcome the age barrier. Contact Workforce Solutions to get information on job search skills classes to improve your resume and interviewing skills.
Velta Worley has over eight years experience in corporate management, five years of that specializing in workforce development as a Technical Assistant and Office Manager for Workforce Solutions.