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4 Ways to Be a Stronger Job Candidate When You Switch Fields

How to compete better against younger applicants

By Steven Richmond

If you’re thinking of switching careers in your 40s, 50s or 60s, you may find it tough competing with younger, more experienced candidates. Here are four ways to stay competitive as a job applicant:

1. Establish a Strong Online Presence

Take some time to acquaint yourself with social networking and online job boards, especially LinkedIn, the social network to find work and develop professional connections. One study showed that 92 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to hire new employees in 2014.

A detailed social networking profile is an essential complement to a resumé. It’ll give recruiters a chance to understand who you are as a person, making you a more attractive candidate. You’ll also gain greater exposure to new opportunities available in the job market.

2. Pick Up New Tech Skills

You’re almost undoubtedly familiar with Microsoft Word, but competency with other programs such as Excel and Powerpoint can also help give you the edge during your job hunt.

Businesses in virtually every industry use Excel to manipulate and organize data, such as customers’ contact information or details of products they sell.

Powerpoint is an easy-to-use program to build slide-based presentations. Not only can knowing it help you on the job, you can also use Powerpoint to make a more dynamic and eye-catching resumé and cover letter presentation to let you stand out from the crowd.

After attaining a working proficiency in those programs, move on to the web-based Google Drive, essentially a digital and collaborative filing cabinet. Google Drive lets users edit and share files with colleagues and clients. Since many businesses now rely on Google Drive (or similar programs), competency could make you a stronger job applicant.

Sites like YouTube, Khan Academy and Codecademy are excellent places to find free tutorials for these programs and others.

3. Make Sure Your Credit Report Is Accurate

Since employers want to know if job applicants would be reliable members of their team, many hiring managers now check their credit history. So you’ll want to be certain that yours won’t turn up any red flags.


When an employer performs a credit check on you, it’s getting a copy of your credit report, showing how well you’ve managed your loans, credit cards and other payments. A Federal Trade Commission study found that 25 percent of consumers have errors on their credit reports that could affect their creditworthiness — such as ones incorrectly stating they’ve missed payments or taken on loans that don’t exist.

This means there’s a one in four chance of an incorrect black mark on your credit report that could keep you from getting a job you’re otherwise qualified for.

Before applying for a job, take advantage of the federal law that lets you receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) once a year. Order your copies today and if you spot any mistakes, try to get them corrected.

4. Tap In to the Freelance Economy

The workplace is becoming much more fragmented, meaning there’s a good chance you may not be working a single job if you’re starting a new career. Welcome to the freelance economy and take advantage of it.

Elance, for example, is a site where anyone with a particular talent can advertise their services and work with companies on individual or recurring projects.

The freelance economy demands that strong digital presence mentioned earlier. Your profile could even serve as a portfolio of your work and abilities.

Steven Richmond is a freelance writer who formerly worked as a government and business reporter and as Editor-in-Chief of and Read More
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