Have you been working at your current position for 20+ years? Are you close to possible retirement? Have you been laid off or let go after decades of service to your employer and now finding it difficult to get back into the workforce? You’re not alone. If you’re over 50 (even 40) then you’re considered to be an “Older Worker”. Unfortunately, many older workers are finding it challenging to gain re-employment after a job loss and are even struggling to keep their existing positions. Finding re-employment after 20+ years in the same position can pose many challenges.
There are things you can do to remain a valuable asset to your current employer and ways you can improve employability when searching & applying for a new job as an older worker.
FRESHEN UP YOUR SKILLS
If you are still employed, gain as many new skills as you can while you’re still working. Take advantage of any training/learning opportunities that are provided. Especially if they’re paid for. Research any new procedures, programs or software that are currently being used in your field of expertise. You’ll gain up-to-date skills that will improve productivity and confidence, which will increase your value at work. In the unfortunate event that you do find yourself looking for work, you’ll have improved your knowledge base with the most up-to-date skills which is attractive to potential employers.
If you’re job searching, it’s worth investing in classes/courses that will update your skills. This will give you current, up-to-date education which will stand out on your resume. Check out these Resume Updating Tips.
USE CURRENT TECHNOLOGY
Familiarize yourself with using online social networking platforms like Linkedin. If you don’t have a presence online yet, now is the time to set yourself up. It’s imperative to interact and connect using the latest technology. Choose at least one social media app and set up a complete profile for yourself. You don’t want to be left behind when businesses are communicating, networking and even hiring through online channels such as these.
If you already have a presence on social networks, now is a good time to refresh your profiles. Ensure your information is accurate and current, especially if you’re currently job searching. Even if you’re not actively searching for work, you never know who may be looking you up online, so keep your social media updated. And in the event you do need to look for new employment, you can start networking immediately.
Get comfortable using virtual meeting platforms. If you’re currently working but have avoided this form of communication, it’s important to realize that this way of conducting business and meetings is not going away. Being savvy with online meeting/networking tools will show your willingness to learn and adapt in the workplace. If you’re searching for work, this is especially important as almost all job interviews are being conducted using this technology. Check out these Virtual Networking Tips.
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
You may have had your job for decades and be comforted by or feel entitled to certain benefits. However, letting go of some of these might make the difference between working or not. If your company is looking at making some changes and you think you might be let go, consider being flexible. You may want to agree to irregular hours, a change in benefits, or forgoing a bonus if it meant not losing your position. You may also want to be open to additional training if requested.
Keep the above in mind if you’re currently looking for work. Some employers assume that older workers are set in their ways and rigid about these traditional industry/workplace practices. Be vocal about your flexibility in that area.
Also know that pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and sending out hundreds of resumes is not the only (or the best) way to find employment in current times. Be open to finding a job through non-traditional methods such as networking. Communicate with friends, family and former co-workers that you’re looking for work. Share this on social platforms too. You may get introduced to someone who can help you out. Networking is a fantastic way to fast track your job search.
If you find yourself without work in an industry that has lost it’s presence over the years and are struggling to find any opportunities, consider how your talents might transfer to a new industry. Many skills can be transferred over to another position easily. If you allow the possibility of working in an industry you were closed off to previously, new opportunities might open up.
POINT OUT THE POSITIVES
Whether you’re working right now or not, you’ve got a lot of life experience, employment experience, industry knowledge, resiliency, self confidence and more. These are things that younger employees just don’t have without the years behind them. Showcase this to your employer or potential employer. Emphasize how these are assets to the company. Explain how you can help the younger employees learn and grow by willing to train or mentor them. How your resiliency & confidence brings stability and assuredness into the corporate culture. Your age has many benefits. Don’t be shy about what you and your age can offer.
FIND THE RIGHT SETTING
If you feel like you’ve lost your enthusiasm for your work and you know you haven’t been as valuable as you know you could be, perhaps, there’s an opportunity to move within the company. Is there an area in your current organization that is better suited to you? Would you be happier and more effective in a different division? This might something worth exploring, especially if you feel that you may lose your job due to inefficiencies or production issues.
If you’re looking for work, don’t just look for any company. What kind of organization or industry would you like to work in? Do some digging into places where you think your personality and values would mesh. If the beliefs, culture and vision of the company are in line with yours, you will naturally be more enthusiastic and eager when it comes to interviews and doing the job productively. Which makes you a competitive candidate next to the 20 year old applicants. So take some time to find an organization that’s the right fit for you.
It may seem difficult to overcome age stereotypes in the workplace, but with creative ideas, enthusiasm and effort you can be an example that age is just a number.
Written by Christine Graham