Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your Post-50 Job Search: An Argument for Optimism

The statistics can be frightening for older job applicants: lengthy search times, limited opportunities, and the unspoken but ever-present reality of age discrimination. So give these unfortunate conditions, how could optimism possibly play a role in one's job search? Actually, it does, and this role is a major one. In fact, an optimistic, positive attitude is perhaps the greatest factor that will determine your chances for success.

Anger, resentment and depression -- understandable as these feelings may be -- are a giant turn off to networking contacts and, more importantly, to potential employers. In fact, I can pretty much predict which job seekers will find work and which ones won't, solely based on the attitudes they express. For those who believe they can't and won't find a job simply because of their age -- they're right. This negativity will show and eliminate them from the candidate pool.

Therefore, how can you be realistic about the ups and downs of a job search today, yet maintain a positive outlook as you move forward? Here are four tips that will help you do just that:

#1 Take care of your physical health. A job search takes vigor and stamina, plus you'll need to make a positive impression at every opportunity -- and that takes energy. Older applicants have to work even harder at this. So make certain to exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep, eat nourishing foods and keep to your general routine as much as possible.

#2 Refresh your skill sets. In my latest post, I listed several low-fee and free sites where you can update your technical skills. Many libraries also offer sites such as Universal Class where you can take a number of classes for free by just entering your library card number. Also check out local community colleges, adult education and community centers for low-fee classes in areas that are of interest to you and which will support your career direction.

Then create a list of the skills you bring in each of the three skill areas:

  • Your knowledge-based skills -- those that relate specifically to your line of work, including any training or formal education you've had.

  • Your personal traits and strengths -- the qualities that represent your added value as a unique individual.

  • Your transferable skills -- your broad-based skills (such as organizing and coordinating) that will transfer from one arena to another.

Also write out several examples of how you've used these skills to make a difference: saved time or money, increased profits, turned around a disgruntled client, etc. And remember that mature applicants generally bring greater proficiency in such skill areas as people management, problem solving, leadership and decision-making skills.

Such examples require thought and effort because you'll be drawing on these statements throughout your resume, while networking, and during your job interviews. Therefore you'll want to constantly refine and add to your list of accomplishments. And better yet, you'll find that focusing on the skills you've mastered and the contributions you've made will prove an ego-boosting activity that will help you maintain a positive outlook.

Tips 3, 4, and job sites specific to 50+

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