It goes without saying that the post 50 job-seeker has plenty of experience. Nevertheless, although you're an applicant of maturity, you won't want to market your experience level as the cornerstone of your job search. Employers have issues that need to be dealt with, projects to complete, and problems that have to be resolved now. Rather than experience, they are seeking a premier problem-solver -- someone with the skills to do the job.
And there's no question that you've got the skills! So think of yourself a "skills merchant." In fact, consider yourself the ultimate skills-merchant and market the unique abilities you've accumulated over the years. Give your search a boost; instead of feeling vulnerable because of your age, take pride in your well-honed skill sets and sell them!
Here are three surefire ways to highlight all that you have to offer a potential employer:
Make yourself saleable. In order to market yourself effectively, you'll want to first determine the skill areas critical to your particular career path and field. You can do this by studying the postings for your line of work and identifying the skills that appear on a consistent basis. Also note the order in which these skills appear in the ads. This will give you an idea of the emphasis employers are placing on the attributes they're looking to find.
You can also turn to websites that list skills by various job-related categories and select to highlight those that align with your particular career goals. (Here's one to get you started.) Another extremely helpful tool is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. This is a free service that ranks keywords by the number of global monthly searches they elicit. All you'll need to do is enter your career category and you'll find plenty of hot-button skills that relate directly to your line of work.
Be certain to represent your skills in each of the three skill categories. There are three basic types of skills. In today's competitive job market, you'll want to make certain you include each of them so that you're presenting a 360 degree representation of your abilities.
- Your education and/or specialized knowledge: Consider the types of training and formal education you've had for your work. How do your specific technical skills match the position description and how will they benefit the organization?
- Your personal traits and strengths: What makes you unique as an individual? What is your work style? How do you interact with fellow employees? What added value will you bring to the position/company through your individual talents and strengths?
- Your transferable skills: How can the broad-based skills you've acquired in previous jobs transfer to achieving in a new position? Are you good at organizing and coordinating? Do you prioritize well? Can you negotiate effectively? Can you communicate well on paper?
Remember to highlight the skills where age has a decided advantage. It's obvious that certain skills grow stronger as we grow older, so make certain you pay special attention to those areas where you will shine due to your age and experience.
- Critical thinking/problem solving skills: By virtue of the fact that you have extensive market knowledge combined with years of experience in your field, you've resolved a number of problems (often critically important ones) in the past. This provides you with a demonstrated ability to utilize your critical thinking skills, prioritize effectively and employ the necessary resources to produce a positive result. As a way to underscore these strengths in both your written and verbal messages, you'll want to gather several examples of the challenges you've faced, the steps you took, and how you used your critical thinking skills to successfully resolve the situation.
- Well-honed people skills: Although you won't necessarily want to load your resume up with examples of your people skills (soft skills), you'll want to emphasize these during your personal interactions--both networking and during a job interview. Your soft skills represent your added value as a unique individual and are an important way to distinguish yourself from the competition. Moreover, almost as important as having the hard skills to do the job, employers want to hire applicants who will be pleasant to work with combined with a strong desire to be there. If they like you enough, they can teach you the hard skills for the job. But they can't imbue you with an ability to come up with innovative ideas that will work on a practical level, an ease in building rapport with a range of personality types, or a mature work ethic. Age and attitude alone build these types of skills.
- The desire and ability to mentor: Many people experience a values-shift in midlife. They no longer choose to climb the corporate ladder as aggressively as before and wish instead to share their expertise and mentor younger workers. If this is true for you, make this aware to potential employers. Not only do you possess a mature work ethic, you also have the knowledge and ability to mentor the up-and-comers and teach them valuable techniques and tools that translate to ongoing success for the organization.
Therefore, as the ultimate skills-merchant, come from a position of strength. Remember that age has gifted you with a range of abilities younger applicants lack. So gather several examples of how you've used your skills to make a difference to previous employers and make your added value known to as many people as possible.
With confidence, connections and a little luck, you just might find yourself reemployed before you know it!
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 full list).
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 profiled by AARP 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: Etsy.com 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 SmartMoney), 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 New York City Bartending School costs a little less than $600, for example).
Age discrimination is less of a problem in government agencies, reports The Fiscal Times. In fact, agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Transportation Security Administration actively seek older workers. Visit USAJobs.gov 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, AOL Jobs reports. Disclaimer: qualifications may include formal training in cosmetology or theater, and a license is required to practice in several states.
What better way to scratch that globetrotting itch? If you're up for an on-the-go lifestyle, flight attendants also earn up to $40 an hour, 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," told The Wall Street Journal. To get started, Idealist.org 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, Encore.org 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!
"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 It's certainly a challenge, but as our amazing readers -- and the many men and women featured on our page -- can attest, going back to school and pursuing something totally different can be well worth the investment of time, money and energy.
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