You’ve undoubtedly read and heard how hard it is to find a job when you're over 50. It’s undeniable. But what’s also true is that many of these job hunters are sabotaging themselves.
They’re not exploiting their social networks or using their smartphones in ways that could help them learn about, and apply for, jobs.
If you think this sounds harsh, take a look at the numbers from the recent Job Seeker Nation Study from Jobvite, a recruiting software platform:
Only 22 percent of “social job seekers” — people who actively use social networking to look for employment or explore new employment opportunities — are 40 to 54. Just 9 percent of social job seekers are 55 or older. By contrast, 40 percent of social job seekers are in their 30s and 30 percent are age 18 to 29.
Merely 22 percent of “mobile job seekers” — people who look for jobs, or have contact with potential employers, on their mobile device — are 40 to 54. A bare 6 percent of mobile job seekers are 55+. Put another way, 72 percent of mobile job seekers are age 18 to 39.
“The percentage of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who are social- and mobile job seekers is low,” says Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite and former General Manager for Yahoo! HotJobs. “Those numbers were pretty eye-opening.”
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Missing Out on Job Opportunities
Boomer job hunters who aren’t exploiting Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (just 9 percent of people age 50 to 64 use Twitter and only 24 percent of them use LinkedIn, according to Pew Research Center) are missing out on potential opportunities.
The same goes for those who ignore apps for job searching and social networking (only 18 percent of cell phone users age 50 to 64 use social networking sites on their phones, says Pew).
And they can’t afford to make these mistakes in today’s job market, particularly if they’ve been out of work for a while. As Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen said yesterday: “The share of workers in the labor force who are unemployed and have been looking for work for more than six months… remains as high as any time prior to the Great Recession.”
Younger Job Applicants Get It
What’s more, the younger people they’re competing against are hearing about openings faster — and applying for them — precisely because they understand the importance of using social and mobile to look for work in 2014.
“The day when you could quietly circle job listings in the classifieds or submit your resumé on a mass job board and get a quality response are over,” says Finnigan.
A boomer himself, Finnigan says he thinks boomers have more to gain by using social media to find work than any other generation.
“They have a longer lifetime of connections, friends and professional relationships that they can leverage,” he notes. “The biggest problem young people have finding work, and the biggest frustration I hear from them is: ‘I don’t know anybody. I’m not connected with anybody.’”
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Finding Work Through Social Networks
Maybe you’re on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and Google+ but don’t know exactly how to suss out and apply for jobs using those social networks. If that’s the case, here are a few tips:
Make as many connections as you can on LinkedIn and Google+ and follow as many people in your field as you can on Twitter. You never know which ones could clue you in to a job opening.
“The good thing about LinkedIn is its culture is very welcoming to making connections,” says Finnigan. “Most people who are invited to connect there reciprocate.”
The same generally holds for Google+ and for Twitter (aside from celebrities).
On LinkedIn, connect to Company Pages of firms where you might want to work. “You’ll then see updates from the companies, you’ll learn what their priorities are and you’ll hear what new products and services they’re offering,” says Finnigan. “If the companies have LinkedIn pages specific to jobs, you can see what jobs they have.” Then, you can decide whether your skills, experience and interests align.
On Facebook and Twitter, type in the name of companies that interest you as potential employers. Then, “like” those firms and follow them on Twitter, to acknowledge your interest. After that, see whether the companies post job listings off their Facebook page or through their Twitter accounts.
Join scheduled tweet chats on Twitter about your industry, when people post tweets on the same topic using the same hashtag. This will help people in your field get to know you; some might then contact you as a result.
Share information about industry trends and news regularly on LinkedIn and Twitter. “You have to be a little gregarious and outgoing on these networks," says Finnigan. “That may be counterintuitive to the habits of boomers. It takes a little ego and courage. But it’s how recruiters and companies will find you.”
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, an HR trade group, 77 percent of employers used networking sites to recruit candidates in 2013; in 2008, only 34 percent did. And four in five employers used social networking sites mostly to find “passive job candidates,” ones who aren’t actively looking for jobs.
Make sure your name shows up when someone does a search for it on social media. Here’s where Google+, Google’s social network, can be your friend. “If you join it, guess what? You’ll be more easily found on Google,” says Finnigan. “If you have a robust profile on Google+, you’ll Search Engine Optimize yourself.”
Finding Work Through Your Smartphone
And how can your smartphone help you find your next job?
Start by downloading mobile apps of job-search engines. Once you have the LinkedIn app, for example, you won’t have to go to your phone’s browser and click to get to LinkedIn’s site.
Another job-search app to consider: Glassdoor’s Job Search, Salaries & Company Reviews. It’s free on iOS and Android.
Sign up for job-search engine alerts that match your criteria. Then, you’ll be able to check your phone whenever there’s an email about an appropriate opening and you can immediately apply for the job through your mobile device or call the employer to learn more.
“Job seeking used to be something you could do passively, infrequently and privately,” says Finnigan. “Now it’s something done much more frequently, proactively and transparently.”
If you’re eager to find a new job, you’d better be social and mobile.