Finding a job today in the COVID economy is harder than ever, especially for older workers (meaning 55 and over). Unfortunately, many have been forced into early and involuntary retirement before they’re ready. There have been some calls for Congress to increase and extend unemployment benefits for older workers and lower the Medicare eligibility age, but nothing has been done to achieve that at this point. So, your best bet is to improve your chances of getting re-hired.
The good news is that when the economy starts recovering, older workers might have an advantage because they require little training and can be productive immediately. They often have a proven work ethic, good time management skills, and maturity. That will be attractive to employers who will likely have fewer staff and can get up and running more quickly.
So what can you do to position yourself for success in this market? According to Kerry Hannon, author of a number of bestsellers including Great Jobs for Everyone 50+, there’s plenty you can do to overcome the challenges with the right preparation. Here are her 11 tips for success:
- Consider your current skill set: Think about whether you want to switch gears and try something new. Looks at your strengths and interests and see what might be other options that work for you. You don’t have to continue doing the same job… transfer your skills to something new.
- Self-evaluate and Grow: Now is a good time to take a few classes and pump up your skills. Volunteer with an organization you care about so you can show you’ve been productive and busy learning and being proactive.
- Get Linked-In: You MUST have a really sharp Linked-In Profile. Employers will do a Google search as well as check your profile on Linked-In. This is a space to share not only your skills and education but lets you personalize your background and interests. Make sure you use a current photo and include anything that can help prospective employers learn more about you and your personality.
- Customize your resume: Here’s where you sell yourself, your experience (only the last 10 years or so), and share a story that lays out how you’ve overcome challenges and achieved measurable results. Make sure you use the keywords from each job description on your resume.
- Reach out and find someone you know: Now’s the time to tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. You never know who might be able to help by making an introduction or sharing information about a company or a current opening.
- Start Sleuthing: Identify the companies you’d like to work with and go on Linked-In or other sites to find out everything you can about the job and the people who work there. Find a connection to someone you know — “employers like to hire who they know.”
- Update your look: Consider updating your style with new glasses or clothes, but don’t overdo it. You don’t need to make drastic changes and you should look like the photo in your profile.
- Exercise: Get out and start moving. You’ll find a boost in energy and positivity shines through in your attitude and your can-do spirit. It’s the best defense against ageism.
- Know your interviewer: Find out all you can about your interviewer by checking out their personal interests and work background on their profiles. Since you likely won’t be meeting in their office where you can get some clues from photos or mementos, you can make an authentic connection via Zoom or Skype from doing your homework online.
- Be Curious: Ask a lot of questions. Being curious means you’re interested, engaged, and that you have an active mind. It goes a long way toward showing you’re looking forward and anxious to learn.
- Consider your salary options: It may be hard to attain the same salary you had before, but you can always negotiate other options such as flexible hours, extra vacation, or additional training. Be open to new opportunities to redefine how you think about work.