Job Search Strategies for Workers Over 40

Mid-Life Job Search Tips

Older woman interviewing for a job
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Today’s aging global workforce, a stagnant economy, and widespread downsizing have forced a rising number of workers over 40 back in the job hunt.

Don’t let your age pose an obstacle to your job search. If you’re over 40 and seeking work, these eight job search strategies for workers over 40 can help you land a job.

For more on job searching for older workers, see:

8 Job Search Strategies for Workers Over 40

1. Don’t let your resume date you. Resume best practices have changed over the years so don’t let your resume date you. Ditch the references, one-size-fits-all resume, and snail-mail submissions. Don’t simply list your skills and experience, explain how you contributed to your organization’s success and the bottom line. Create a targeted resume for each position that is tailored to the job you seek and submit your resume electronically.

2. Become Web-Savvy. Technology know-how is crucial to your job search. Learn how to SEO your resume, use online application techniques, post on-line resumes and master online submissions. Peruse online job search sites, post a virtual resume and tap into online social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to network and look for jobs.

Create an online brand for yourself and market your brand through social media. Join listservs and forums relating to your field to expand your network and gain up-to-date knowledge.

3. Battle age discrimination. Although it is illegal, age discrimination exists in most industries, including the legal industry.

Remove all references to your age from your resume including the dates you graduated from college, graduate school and/or law school. If you have been in the job force for over 15 years, you can also remove your early employment history. Mentioning excessive years of experience in your resume objective or cover letter will also target you as an older employee. During interviews, focus on your skills and tangible contributions rather than your age.

4. Update your skills. If you are changing careers or returning to the workforce, it’s important to keep your skills current. If necessary, return to school to complete a degree or take classes to brush up on certain skills. Technology skills are essential to most positions today and a basic understanding of word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation and calendaring applications are required for many jobs.

5. Network. Get involved in professional associations, volunteer programs, and networking groups to expand your networking contacts and learn about new opportunities. Focus on building relationships and helping others rather than your own job search.

6. Update Your Appearance. Even if you are older, you don’t want your appearance to scream “over 50.” Interviewers are influenced by your appearance so update your look to gain a competitive edge.

Color gray hair, update your wardrobe and purchase a trendy handbag and shoes. Presenting an image that polished and professional, not worn and dated, will help avoid the perception that your skills are not up to date or that you are too old-fashioned for the company.

7. Adapt to today’s work culture. Yesterday’s workforce was ruled by Baby Boomers who thrived in a hierarchal autocracy where top-down communication and regimented work culture were the norms. Today’s work environment is global, flexible, interconnected and round-the-clock. Telecommuting, flexible schedules, and 24/7 availability are becoming the norm. Understand how your role fits into the bigger picture and remain flexible.

8. Target the right employers. Older professionals might do best to focus on small to medium size organizations that are more likely to value a Boomer’s perspective, experience, and expertise.

For example, research by NALP (National Association of Law Professionals) has found that ​small law firms embrace older lawyers more readily that large firms.