What Career Experts Say You Need to Know Now
13 smart tips for jobseekers over 50 and those who might be soon
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a career coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. Her website is MyLifestyleCareer.com; on Twitter she is @NancyCollamer.
That’s why I’ve come to rely on the annual Global Career Brainstorming Day report published by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium (CTL), a worldwide thinktank. It’s a priceless (but free!) collection of insights from more than 150 top professionals from the U.S. and five other countries — resumé writers, career coaches and branding experts — who gather together once a year on Brainstorming Day.
The 2014 report summarizes findings from November 2013’s meeting of the minds and features hundreds of invaluable insights, tips and resources. I combed through it looking specifically for trends and ideas that are especially relevant to jobseekers over 50 who are looking right now or will be in the future.
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Here are 13 takeaways:
1. Make your resumé tech-friendly. While you still need a paper version to bring to networking events and job interviews, in 2014 your resumé must be designed to meet the needs of computers, smartphones, tablets and the human eye.
Most employers now rely on computerized Applicant Tracking Systems to sort through resumés and you need to adapt your resumé so it can be viewed properly on all electronic platforms. Recruiters are increasingly scanning resumés on mobile devices as well as through e-mail and social media sites. (This article from TheSavvyIntern offers good tips on how to format your resumé for mobile devices.)
2. Shrink your resumé and make it sizzle. Employers and recruiters used to spend about 30 seconds reviewing an applicant’s resumé; now, six seconds is considered the norm.
So how do you best summarize 30+ years of experience into a quick read? The report offers a few helpful tips:
- Focus on the present. Your current position is the one recruiters and hiring managers look at the most. So scrub your resumé of old and irrelevant jobs. If you could use updated educational credentials, consider signing up for free Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), many of which are offered by Ivy League schools.
- Leverage technology. Use your resumé as a summary document that links to other online info about you: your LinkedIn Profile, Google + account and any relevant social media accounts.
- Spice up your writing. The report suggests replacing boring summaries with "branding statements" as well as adding a few LinkedIn recommendations you’ve received. Also, use innovative writing to explain nontraditional job histories. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, consider hiring a professional to help.
3. Snailmail your resumé. While that may sound old school, it’s actually a clever form of reverse psychology. Mailing your resumé will get a hiring manager’s attention exactly because everyone else’s is sent electronically.
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4. Go mobile to find jobs. Job postings and applications are increasingly happening through smartphone apps and websites. But, the report says, older job seekers are not using mobile offerings as much as younger ones.
Two apps to check out: Facebook’s BranchOut (similar to LinkedIn, it’s designed for finding jobs, networking and recruiting) and TweetMyJobs.com.
5. Use social media to land work. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are increasingly valuable assets to jobseekers. But people over 50 need to use them more.
According to the 2014 Job Seeker Nation study by social recruiting firm Jobvite, just 22 percent of jobseekers age 40 to 54 and only 9 percent of those 55+ use social networks to find work. By contrast, 40 percent of those 30 to 39 do. Interestingly, 76 percent of social jobseeker survey respondents said they found their current positions through Facebook.
6. Power up your LinkedIn Profile. It should be a personal and engaging complement to your resumé, not a mirror image.
LinkedIn offers the capability to link to files, videos and portfolios, so take advantage of those features. That way, you’ll paint a portrait that is more vibrant than your resumé while impressing prospective employers with your technological savvy.
7. Doublecheck your LinkedIn photo. The report offers an important note of caution for people over 50: LinkedIn photos may — and almost certainly do — prompt age and other forms of discrimination. Be extra careful to ensure that your photo is flattering and professional-looking.
8. Get on Google+. While LinkedIn is still the best online social network to invest your time professionally, Google+ is projected to grow in popularity because of the enormous power of the Google search engine. Build your Google+ network and your name is likely to show up higher when someone searches for you on Google.
9. Prepare for long, grueling interviews. The hiring process is getting increasingly exhaustive. For management and high-skilled positions, you may need to show up for several “specialized” interviews: HR screening, technical, managerial, etc. Group interviews — where candidates meet with a team of interviewers or are quizzed along with other candidates in the same session — are also more commonplace.
10. Get comfortable with Skype. More companies are now replacing initial telephone screening calls with Skype video interviews. But many candidates are agreeing to such interviews at short notice and without appropriate preparation. Spend a little time on the Skype site, learning Skype video etiquette and the effective use of Skype tools.
11. Research the employers where you’re hoping to work. Too many jobseekers aren’t spending the time to do this before applying and interviewing for jobs, according to the report. The more you know about a place before you go to an interview, the more you’ll shine when you’re in it.
12. Use the Chamber of Commerce to get a list of local employers. It’s a great resource not just to learn who the nearby companies are, but also the names and contact details of key personnel.
13. Finally, remember the importance of a sending a graceful thank-you note after an interview. Unbelievably, according to the report, fewer than 10 percent of interviewees send thank-you notes.
Writing one presents an easy opportunity for you to stand out from the competition. Send an e-mail within 24 hours of your interview to express your thanks and remind the company why you’re the best candidate for the job. This extra effort just might make the difference between getting the job and losing out.