As the editor of the Work & Purpose channel for Next Avenue, I’d be the first to acknowledge that getting hired after age 50 isn’t easy.
But after combing through the new 2015 Job Seeker Nation Study from Jobvite, a recruiting platform, and speaking with Jobvite’s CEO Dan Finnigan about it, I’m convinced that many job hunters over 50 are making three big mistakes. Correcting these could make them stronger candidates and, in some cases, winning candidates.
Before I go into each, it’s worth noting that Jobvite’s report on its online survey of 2,084 adults says that the biggest news this year is that the “recovering economy has placed job seekers in the driver’s seat.”
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Easier to Find Work Now
Says Finnigan: “The labor market is very hot right now. People are looking for their next move and we see it across all age groups.” The reason: Fewer people surveyed said it was difficult to find a job in 2014 compared to 2013.
But older people looking for work need to realize that “a new job isn’t going to fall into your lap,” says Finnigan. “You’ve got to change the way you look for a job.”
The 3 Big Mistakes of Older Job Seekers
Here are three mistakes job hunters in their 50s and 60s are making and how they can fix them to improve their chances:
1. They’re not using social media and mobile job apps enough to find out about jobs and to apply for them. When Jobvite asked: “Which of the following resources did you use that directly led to finding your current/most recent job,” only 3 percent of those 55 and older and 5 percent of those age 40 to 54 said “social network.” By contrast, 19 percent of respondents 18 to 29 did.
“The social network numbers for older workers don’t make sense today, when you consider that 73 percent of recruiters hire through social networks and 93 percent say they view applicants’ social profile before making a decision,” says Finnigan.
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The mobile story was similar. Just 4 percent of Jobvite’s respondents 55 and older and 5 percent of those 40 to 54 said they used a mobile career site to find their current or most recent job. But 13 percent of people 18 to 29 did. (One of my favorite stats from the survey: 18 percent of job hunters who use their smartphones to look for work have done so in the restroom.)
“In today’s job market, the early bird gets the worm. If someone finds out about a job walking down the hallway looking at their phone or while in a restaurant, they’re seeing it before the older job seeker who’s used to doing it at night on their laptop or — God forbid — through the newspaper classifieds on the weekend,” says Finnigan.
2. They’re not getting the most out of Facebook to find jobs. Just 10 percent of survey respondents age 40 to 54 said they use Facebook to find connections and network. But, Finnigan says, you should use Facebook much the way you use LinkedIn (you do use LinkedIn, right?).
“Too many older job seekers use Facebook just as a photo-sharing tool — to see what their kids or grandkids are doing, but not as a utility to research and find job resources,” says Finnigan. “If you’re inclined to start a job search by asking people you know, you’re more likely to find them on Facebook than on LinkedIn.”
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He advises job seekers to modify their Facebook profile to include information about their work and career expertise. “So many people don’t fill out their professional profile there,” says Finnigan. “If you do, you’re more likely to have that information show up in a search engine.” (Be sure to adjust your Facebook privacy settings so your professional information is findable by search engines.)
Also, Finnigan says, do a search on Facebook not just with the name of an employer where you’d like to work but that employer’s name plus “people who work at ________” (that employer). Then, you’ll find people in your Facebook network who work there or are connected to people who work there and you can contact them about job possibilities.
3. They’re not using Twitter wisely for their job search because they’re too introverted there. “Twitter is where extroverts thrive,” says Finnigan, because every tweet you send is findable by anyone.
Introverts tend to use Twitter just to read what others are posting and to follow Twitter feeds of companies. It’s fine to use Twitter partly to gather information this way (just remember to look for Twitter handles not just with the company’s name but also with the word “jobs” at the end, such as @StarbucksJobs, since that’s where some firms put their employment info).
But you’ll get the most out of Twitter when job searching by tweeting out news and articles to the Twitterverse. That way, prospective employers and hiring managers will see that you’re keeping current and have impressive social media skills.
“Share content you find interesting and you think would interest people you want to work with,” says Finnigan. “Then, people will reach out to you and recruiters and companies will find you.”