If you're a post-50 job-seeker, you know all too well that ageism can prove a real threat to your job search efforts. However if you hope to be successful, you can't allow your gray hair to stop you from presenting yourself with confidence. Rather, you can go a long way to conquering the age factor if you make the effort to identify the negative stereotypes that younger employers are likely to hold against you, plan ahead to address and overcome these roadblocks, and present yourself in an upbeat, can-do manner. In fact, if you work it right, you might even turn your age into your advantage!
The following are four ways mature applicants can actively address the age factor:
1. Focus your search. Do not waste valuable time and energy on organizations that will discriminate against you based solely on the fact that you're an older applicant. Who wants to face multiple rejections? Instead, spend your precious energy and effort concentrating on companies and industries where your experience will be valued.
There are a number of websites dedicated to helping mature jobseekers find work at age friendly organizations. Here are four to get you started:
2. Proactively address unspoken objections. We know that younger employers are likely to hold a variety of unflattering stereotypes they associate with age. However, unless your interviewer is woefully inept, these objections will remain unspoken -- rendering them silent but deadly. Therefore practice ways you can proactively bring these unfair stereotypes into the open, address them, and show how your age and experience can and will give you the edge over the younger competition.
3. Don't ignore your all-important soft skills. In addition to letting potential employers know of your technical and other job related skills, be certain to stress the ways mature workers hold a big advantage: your soft skills. Your soft skills (or personal strengths) have been honed over a lifetime of handling people, pressure, and responsibilities and are a major plus to any job-seeker over 50.
Soft skills are vitally important because they represent your added value as a unique individual. So whenever you're interacting -- whether it be networking at formal events, casual gatherings, volunteering, or during a job interview -- you'll want to cite a number of examples when your soft skills were valuable assets and saved the company time and/or money.
4. Come from a position of strength. Above all, remember that a positive attitude will absolutely help your chances. Employers want to bring on workers who are confident in their skills, know that they have much to contribute and are pleasant to work with. Moreover, as a candidate of maturity and experience, you have the wherewithal to display these qualities in each of your job search interactions.
So anticipate success. Despite the much-publicized difficulties facing older applicants, with the right opportunity, a bit of luck, and the right attitude, you just might find yourself landing your next job before you know it. And, believe it or not, your gray hair might even prove to be an asset!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!
Several larger corporations such as Starbucks, Target and Land's End are able to offer even their part-time employees benefits such as health coverage and paid vacation time (head over to ABC for a <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Business/companies-offering-health-care-benefits-perks-part-time/story?id=14805107#2" target="_hplink">full list</a>).
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit and computer know-how, the Internet offers opportunities to bring in some cash from home -- at any hour of the day or night. Take Jose and Jill Ferrer, a retired couple <a href="http://www.aarp.org/work/working-after-retirement/info-03-2011/more-great-part-time-jobs-for-retirees.1.html" target="_hplink">profiled by AARP</a> for supplementing a freewheeling retirement with their website, Your RV Lifestyle. By highlighting certain products related to RV living, the pair earns $700 a month, AARP reports. "And we know the potential is there to grow our website business further," Jill Ferrer says. Other ideas: <a href="http://www.etsy.com/" target="_hplink">Etsy.com</a> allows the crafty to turn a profit from their hobbies.
Personal care and home health aid topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics' list of the fastest growing occupations in America. The time commitment may vary (between 10 and 30 hours per week, according to <a href="http://www.smartmoney.com/retirement/planning/the-new-best-jobs-for-retirees-1295567405980/" target="_hplink">SmartMoney</a>), but the median annual wage is around $20,000 for both occupations, according to the BLS.
Bartending is not just for twentysomethings -- and for social butterflies, this part-time gig offers opportunity to rake in extra cash, not to mention tips, with a minimal initial financial investment (a 40-hour certification course at the <a href="http://www.newyorkbartendingschool.com/courses.html" target="_hplink">New York City Bartending School costs a little less than $600</a>, for example).
Age discrimination is less of a problem in government agencies, <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/01/30/10-Best-Part-Time-Jobs-for-Retirees.aspx#page1" target="_hplink">reports The Fiscal Times</a>. In fact, agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Transportation Security Administration actively seek older workers. Visit <a href="http://www.usajobs.gov/" target="_hplink">USAJobs.gov</a> to search for available positions.
If you've got an artistic flair or an interest in theater, makeup artists can make up to $40 an hour, and only work 20 hours a week on average, <a href="http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/06/08/7-part-time-jobs-that-pay-about-22-an-hour/#photo-2" target="_hplink">AOL Jobs reports</a>. <em>Disclaimer: qualifications may include formal training in cosmetology or theater, and a license is required to practice in several states.</em>
What better way to scratch that globetrotting itch? If you're up for an on-the-go lifestyle, flight attendants also earn up <a href="http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2012/06/08/7-part-time-jobs-that-pay-about-22-an-hour/#photo-6" target="_hplink">to $40 an hour</a>, making it a very well-paid part-time job.
The nonprofit sector can offer more than volunteer opportunities for retirees, and may be particularly appealing to those who "thought they wanted to change the world ... [but] put that on the back burner for 20 or 30 years while they climbed the corporate ladder," as Tamara Erickson, author of "Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation," <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120767069301298203.html" target="_hplink">told <em>The Wall Street Journal</em></a>. To get started, <a href="http://www.idealist.org/" target="_hplink">Idealist.org</a> offers listings for available paid positions in addition to volunteer opportunities: applicants with years of experience under their belts are sure to be met with open arms. Even cooler, <a href="http://www.encore.org/learn/fellowships" target="_hplink">Encore.org</a> offers paid Encore Fellowships to "match skilled, experienced professionals at the end of their midlife careers with social-purpose organizations" -- while earning a small stipend for part- or full-time work, midlifers can get their foot in the door to a fulfilling retirement job.
The pay may not be great, but if you're an arts lover, a history buff or a sports enthusiast, the perks certainly are!
<em>"I studied hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy 3 years ago and now I have my own business, couldn't be happier" -- Huff/Post50 reader Lee Adley </em> It's certainly a challenge, but as our amazing readers -- and the<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/going-back-to-college-teresa-pitts_n_1626068.html?utm_hp_ref=fifty&ir=Fifty" target="_hplink"> many men and women featured on our page</a> -- can attest, going back to school and pursuing something totally different can be well worth the investment of time, money and energy.
Follow Mary Eileen Williams on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FeistySideFifty