There’s nothing more daunting than a job search. In any normal situation, looking for work is exhausting, disheartening, and challenging. When you’re returning to the workforce, particularly over 50, you come across even more hurdles. Your age, your intimidating resume, and the fact that technology is moving at a speed that even the gainfully employed have a hard time keeping up with, are all factors working against you. But don’t despair, there are plenty of opportunities out there, you just need to retool your search criteria.
The first thing to do is obvious: update your resume
There are many reasons you may not have been working – a layoff, your health, your family’s health, to care for your family, or for a personal sabbatical. Whatever the reason, it’s okay to explain it. Be upfront, don’t try to hide your work “hole”, instead, address it on paper, and, more importantly, in your online presence.
Become a searchable entity on the internet
That means first and foremost to build a LinkedIn profile, but it also may mean creating a personal website, particularly if you have a portfolio to share. You also want to make sure your skills are up to date. Interoffice communication isn’t the way it used to be, and depending on how long you’ve been out of the workplace, you may need to brush up on skills. Take classes, view online videos, or even volunteer at an organization in which you can basically work in a variation of the job you want. Be it as a project manager, a graphic designer, an instructor, or a director, this is a great way to not only learn those skills in a stress-free environment, but also to show you’re serious about work. Plus, studies show employers are more likely to hire people who volunteer, so there’s a plus.
You Aren’t a Dinosaur
Being 50 isn’t the employment nightmare you may imagine it to be. People who are in their 50s are more interested in their work than their younger peers, but they don’t come with the price tag most employers may anticipate. So just be confident, excited, and don’t ask for a salary that’s too high – your best asset is that you’re a bargain. Remember that you’re capable of being a wonderful employee for plenty of companies out there. It may take a little time because you’re experienced, so plan for a full year of job hunting. It’ll be worth the wait!
Flexibility Gets The Gig
Since you’re returning after a break, you can’t expect to go right back to the same exact job and title you had before. That’s unrealistic, and while difficult to accept, the sooner you do, the easier your search will be.
Consider many things: taking a step down, which means you may be working for someone with less experience and is much younger than you are. It doesn’t matter. You have a modern learning curve, and they don’t. Think of it as a transition job. You can also think of it as a relief – the stress isn’t going to hit you as hard, now, because you know how to do the work.
You could also change your career path. For example, if you were a finance person, you could be an accountant at an entertainment company. Or, if you were a corporate hotshot, but you’ve become very health conscious, you could become a nutritionist instead. Think of what you enjoy, and what kind of life would make you happy, rather than jumping back on the same old ladder.
Freelancing is a smart way to earn money while you search for a full time job. When you take on different gigs, you’ll gain new skills in your industry, or in another field that interests you – it’s a great way to try on a potential career. Because you have money coming in, you can take your time finding the right position, all the while adding skills to help you snag a great job. It’s even possible to find a more senior position than the one you had before your break! Or, maybe you find you love freelancing and you continue on that path. The idea is, make sure you tear down your mental barriers and leap into something great, rather than familiar.