Despite the whining from people in their 20s, the job market is toughest on the middle-aged, particularly men. They don't have the highest unemployment, but they do have the most difficulty finding jobs comparable to the ones they lost.
Still, that doesn't mean if you're in your 40s or 50s you should give up, at least not yet. (If you're in your 60s you should. Seriously.) There's a chance you can find a position that doesn't require you to fill out an application.
Following are employment tips for people old enough to remember the 1970s gas crisis -- or, for the matter, the 1970s.
Clean up your resume. Drop every job you've had before 1990. Maybe even 1995. If there are gaps, put in that you did charity work. Pay special attention to the skills section and make sure to get rid of anything that will date you (e.g., "Mastery of Outlook 97").
Lie about your age (within reason). It's illegal to ask someone his or her age in a job interview, but unless you've moisturized religiously, people will be able to guess within a few years. Still, there's no need to help them. Your 25th class reunion can become your 15th, your kids in their 20s can become children in middle school (NOT junior high), the first election you voted in was Clinton-Bush, not Carter-Ford, etc. And remember under no circumstances should you say you remember the Kennedy assassination, man first walking on the moon or Woodstock. You might as well tell them you and your spouse spent last weekend shopping for burial plots.
Similarly, don't comment on the age of the interviewer, especially if the person is younger, as is likely. Example: "I've got a punk kid your age living in my spare bedroom."
Don't use the word "punk." Johnny Rotten (Lydon) is in his mid-50s and the rest of the Ramones are hanging on by a thread. Avoid this and other words that will date you like a pair of Doc Martens: homeboy (homies, et. al.), bitchin', poser, loser, etc. Affecting the speech of someone younger is even worse. For real. And please, please, please don't try to be "current" by making fun of or saying you like the ubiquitous pop hit de jour (currently "Call Me Maybe") even if you do.
Check ringtone: Leave it on default or put in back to default. If you have a BlackBerry, consider leaving it home.
Hair -- don't color it. It will look as bad and dated as the Keith Hernandez and Walt Frasier ads hawking "Just for Men." Best case scenario is it's going to make you look 53 instead of 56. Worst case you'll look like some desperate old guy with weird hair. In fact, don't put anything in or on your hair. "Product" will make you look goofy; a hipster hat, silly; and don't wear a baseball cap unless you're expecting the interviewer to ask you if you want to play catch.
Facial hair. This is tricky. Acceptable, but it often comes in grayer than the hair on your head and instead of looking "fashionable," you look "homeless" or "hung over." The one exception is a soul patch. Don't do it unless you're interviewing for bass player in a jazz band.
Of course you have a Mac. Doesn't everybody? And, if it comes up, his last name is pronounced "jobs," as in what you're looking for.
Don't exaggerate. (See Paul Ryan.)
Clothes. Although half the people at the office where you're being interviewed may buy clothes at a thrift store, you shouldn't. There will be plenty of time for that later. As a rule, if you can buy it at Urban Outfitters or American Apparel, or see it on someone in an indie band, don't wear it.
Make liberal use of the words "freelance" and "consultant." Example: "I'm a freelance publicist." Or, "I'm a marketing consultant." Or, "I'm a freelance delivery person." It sounds better.
Things you like to do in leisure time: Relax (not "chill"), watch "Breaking Bad" and taking your kids to interactive museums.
Potential traps: Vegans and vegetarians are not the same thing; you don't get pets from the pound, you rescue or adopt them; and you read something online this morning, not in a newspaper.
When you're back home, go for a run or head to the pool or workout at the gym. Do anything where you can't check your email every few minutes to see if you got the job.
Follow Bill Kelley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@billkelley4