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6 Ways People Over 50 Can Find Jobs They'll Love

You actually have one big advantage over younger job applicants

By Nicholas Lore | July 13, 2012
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Nicholas Lore is the author of The Pathfinder, the originator of the field of career coaching, and founder of the Rockport Institute.

In the new second edition of his bestselling book, The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, author and career coach Nicholas Lore explains how to examine every aspect of your life relating to your career. Here, he offers advice for people over 50 who are looking for fulfillment in their work.
 
Older job seekers worry about age discrimination with good reason. Everyone is finding it more difficult to land the right job in today’s harsh market. With corporations favoring younger applicants over seasoned workers, how can people over 50 maximize their chances and compete successfully with the younger generation?
 
Our brains were designed in ancient times to react to threats. These days, most news about the job market instantly dumps us into that survival-based mode. While this may have helped our ancestors deal with saber-tooth tigers, fear-based job hunting saps our energy, creativity and clear thinking.
 
If you’re over 50 and looking to find work you love, here are six ways to do it:
  1. Make it a project. If you don’t need a new job right away, forget about job hunting until your target is clear and specific. Design your career first. Then search for the job when you know exactly what you are seeking.
  2. Become a career detective. Look for clues about how you and the workplace best fit together so you don’t wind up squeezed into the wrong job. Since employers pay you to perform specific functions, start your job hunt by thinking about what you do happily, naturally, perhaps even brilliantly: your innate talents and a lifetime of experiences.
  3. Focus on your strengths. There is a split in hiring strategies today. Some organizations look for the person with the perfect resumé. Others know that, in an ever-more-competitive world, they need to find the best people. That’s where someone over 50 has an advantage over younger workers; you have the experience and wisdom to get the job done well now.
  4. Research jobs that seem to fit. Read, search online, and talk with several people who do exactly the job you are considering. Keep whittling down until you can decide on one or two specific job descriptions. Specificity has power. Casting a wide net is usually a mistake because you can’t be everything to everyone. Start your job search with a definite target.
  5. Conduct a smart job search. Few people find the perfect job through online job listings. And, these days, decision-makers prefer to hire people they know. The most effective strategy is to find creative ways to get to meet and speak with several decision-makers: people who could actually hire you to do the job you want. Then, when a job becomes available, you have something better than the perfect resumé, you are known.
  6. Persist. An effective job search takes time. You will be rejected several times, perhaps many times, before you land the job you want. Since we all tend to resist discomfort, it is natural to avoid any activity that leads what the mind interprets as failure. As a result, people often give less time to their job search in each successive week. Defuse this reaction by realizing that you will hear “no” many times before you hear “yes.” It is just part of the game.
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