Much of the advice given job seekers older than 50 concerns hiding your age:
- Omit the dates of your education.
- Omit the dates of your early jobs.
- Provide only the past 10 years of experience.
- Lose weight; color your hair; look younger, younger, younger.
This guidance is predicated on the assumption that you want to fit into a job slot a company is reluctant to allow you into because of your age. Let’s look at the job search another way.
Suppose, instead of seeking a job you are willing to fit into, that you attract a company that is looking for you.
I propose that the job search is not an adversarial activity with the job seeker on one side and the company, recruiters, HR, and hiring managers on the other. It can be a collaborative effort to find a company and position that fits your needs and a worker who fits the company and hiring manager needs.
So, how would you go about this kind of job search?
Stop looking for a job
That’s right. I said stop looking for a job.
Look for a company. You can find all kinds of information about companies. They have reputations. They have current and former employees. They have Web sites and annual reports, LinkedIn profiles, and Glassdoor reports.
A position? Not so much. You may find a job description, but that’s about it, and they can be frightfully inaccurate.
When you find a company that fits you, your tenure is likely to be longer and your level of satisfaction higher. You will be less likely to find yourself job hunting again in the next year or two.
To find a company you want to work for, make some decisions about the company and job you want. Keeping your options open is overrated. Your chances of finding a job you love go up every time you narrow your focus.
Find companies by deciding on the type of company and industry you want to work for.
If location is important, draw your radius.
If the size of the company matters, add that to the criteria list.
Decide and prioritize what matters to you: Salary? Benefits? Schedule? Flexibility? Commute? Status? Title?
Next, search for these companies. Try to find six to 10 of them.
One way of finding these prospective employers is to search in Google or on Google Maps. Enter your criteria and see what companies pop up. For example, chemical manufacturer Minneapolis yielded 516,000 results, so be ready to narrow your search.
Talk to people in your industry. Ask about their employer and others concerning your top priorities.
When you have narrowed your choices down to two or three, contact people in each company to find out more. LinkedIn is a good place to start this. So is your own contact list. Your goal is to talk with the person who would supervise you if you worked there.
Up to and including this point, it does not matter whether there is a job opening. In fact, it’s better for you if there isn’t. When a job opens, the company receives hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications. You’re just a name on a list. The company may not even look at all of the applications. If they find enough candidates in the first 50 applications, they may look no further. Your wonderful resume and witty cover letter will languish in the database, and you’ll never even know about it.
On the contrary, when you contact someone who doesn’t have a job opening, their guard is down. They haven’t been defending against the 1400 applications, emails, phone calls, drop-ins, informational interviews, appointments, you get the picture. They’ve just been doing their job, which, by the way, they probably like to talk about. Most of us do, every chance we get. So, if you contact them and ask to talk about their job, their department, and their company, chances are they’ll say yes.
Your long-term goal is twofold: 1) Find out about the company, and 2) let them get to know you well enough through repeated contact that when they DO have a job opening, you are the first person they think of. By that time, they’re already aware of who you are, age and all. They’re also aware of how well you would fit into their team. You don’t have to hide your wrinkles, color your hair, or play fooly-bear with your work history.
If that’s the kind of job search you’d like to conduct, contact me at Jeri@WorkwriteResumes.com. I can coach you through the process.
P.S. I’m over 50, too.