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How to approach a job search if you're over 50

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With COVID-19’s recent economic disruptions – workers are increasingly finding themselves out of work due to redundancies. While many of these are young career-starters, plenty have also been veterans of the workforce, now pressed to find a fresh start in a highly competitive job market.

Job hunting over the age of 50 can undoubtedly be a challenge. Many such workers report experiences of “unfair treatment” or biased perspectives due to their age; with common concerns on their ability to stay adaptive or take instruction from younger employees.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to circumvent these biases. If you’re over the age of 50, SkillsTalk outline a few key tips below to ease your job search and successfully land a new role. 

Cultivate your network

Love it or hate the act of it – fostering a solid professional network helps with any career path, regardless of your age. 

When starting on your job search, you’ll want to identify any existing contacts in your field. Start reconnecting with these people, though avoid diving into the details of your job search off-the-bat. Focus on fostering genuine social interactions, as this helps revive your connections more organically.

The advantage of being a worker over 50 is that you’ll likely have built a long list of potential contacts over the decades, which can prove much more effective in landing a job than through simple online applications. This is where the “hidden job market” comes into play: an untapped source of unadvertised job opportunities that make up an estimated 75-85% of the total job market.

If you find your current network lacking, attending conferences or networking events can help you get on the radar of key industry figures. 

Lastly, it’s important to familiarise yourself with LinkedIn and the job-hunting tools they have to offer. Create a professional, detailed profile and reach out to other site members (in your desired field) on a daily basis. According to a recent JobVite survey, a whopping 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn to weed out potential
candidates – so use the platform to your advantage.

Assess your current skillset

middle aged man smiling at camera

As with any job search (regardless of age), it’s important you have the relevant experience and qualifications required for the role.

Perform an audit of your current skills; assessing whether they’re up-to-date or in need of re-training. If they feel a tad behind-the-curve, then perhaps upskilling can help. Plenty of training providers currently offer short courses or certifications across a wide range of industries – with many providing options to study online. 

Should you feel a bit lacking in your tech skills, for example – a quick certificate course in information, digital media, and technology can help you brush up on the latest digital practices and applications. There are even short courses to aid your networking, helping create a smoother job-hunting experience.

It’s also vital to make note of any “outdated” skills or experience on your resume. Update on these as necessary, or remove them altogether.

On top of courses, volunteering opportunities are also available for those looking to reskill. In an interview with ABC news, work coach Joanna Maxwell shares how one of her clients undertook a volunteer hospital role after years of being out of work – leading to a full-time permanent job in the industry only a year later.

Demonstrate your value

Age discrimination can be an unfortunate reality for many job seekers. According to Renee Ward of the career counselling firm Seniors4Hire – while someone with 20-30 years of experience may see themselves as a more valuable asset, employers often see those with five years of experience (or less) as “equally competent”. 

Thus, it’s important to zero in on what makes your additional experience more valuable. 

To do this, you must demonstrate your “added value” when discussing an employer’s specific needs. State that you do have the years of experience the role requires – and that, through these years of experience, you’re more than capable to do the job – but also outline any other skills or abilities that make you a prize choice. 

You may have all the requirements of that customer service role, for example, but you may also have the added ability to motivate and lead your team to success. Your years of industry experience may have also lent to greater customer, client, or business connections that may prove valuable for the role. 

Additionally, it helps to demonstrate qualities that present you as a versatile, agile worker. Plenty of these are often fostered and refined as one builds experience in the workforce. Show off your knack for creative innovation, your problem-solving talents, and your influential skills in communication, among plenty other “core professional” skills. Such abilities benefit and are transferable across any role (in any industry); effectively adding to your value as an employee.

Never stop learning

middle aged woman smiling and typing on laptop

Finally, it’s important to establish yourself as a lifelong learner.

Allow yourself to seek new paths and opportunities that could lend themselves to professional development. As mentioned, online courses and volunteer opportunities are great places to start – though you can also build your knowledge through books, online publications, industry magazines and even social media platforms. 

Make it a habit to keep up with the latest trends, developments, and practices in your field, as this helps sharpen your competitive edge. Of course, as technology continues to evolve and build mainstream prevalence, it’s important to keep yourself skilled in modern software and digital systems. Continuously embracing new skills, knowledge, and ideas grants you agility and flexibility as a worker – traits that are commonly in-demand and valued by the modern job market. 

Additionally, it helps to abandon all sense of “false pride”. While being an industry veteran has undoubtedly equipped you with much knowledge and experience, you’re never too seasoned a worker to learn something new. 

Grow your job opportunities with an online course today!

No matter your age or industry, upskilling can help you broaden your horizons or “future-proof” your current career path. 

Upskilled currently offers a wide range of qualifications across plenty of in-demand Australian job roles – including those in information technology, community services, and business management. All courses are offered online, delivering you nationally-recognised training from the comfort of your own home. 

Resharpen that skillet, find new passions, and stand out in the job market – and enquire about a course today. 
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.