In a September 15, 2013 article by the Associated Press, printed in the Newark Star Ledger, stated that employers who hire older adults were finding the experience a profitable one. The experience older workers bring to the workplace cannot be replaced by younger, though often more tech savvy, workers it explained. The article notes that some 200 employers like Google, AT&T, MetLife and others have signed a pledge with AARP ‘recognizing the value of experienced workers and vowing to consider applicants 50 and over.”
What does this mean for the experienced worker 65 and over? I have been a strong proponent of our elders volunteering as coaches, mentors and service providers to non-profits, emerging businesses and other organizations. If seniors want to return to the job market for professional, social or financial reasons, I caution you to check with your financial advisor first. But if you are given the all clear there are a few steps you will need to take before you begin.
In today’s market one often has the option of applying for jobs online and it is the method preferred by most businesses. Yet, the old basics of the job search still apply.
1-Have an updated resume highlighting your work skills, job history, (including volunteer jobs) and include your educational degrees, technical abilities, full contact information, references and their contact information. A resume should be one page with the opportunity for a Human Resource staffer to request additional information with more detailed documentation. Templates can be found on-line or in your word program.
2-Write a brief but comprehensive cover letter that communicates your personality. Be honest about your age and physical abilities, and whether you are looking for full time or part time employment. Note what kind of work you are looking for and where you think you would be most valuable. This is a place to share details about you such as if you have a great phone manner or are extremely organized.
3-Have an email address. You can’t submit online without an email address that you check daily. It is how employers will communicate with you.
4- Be strategic when looking for job opportunities. Look online for job listings, Job Banks at sites such as these I found on the About.com website – Indeed.com, LinkUp.com, Simplyhired.com, US.jobs. Use key words in the fields you are interested in to narrow your search. Word of mouth is still the most valuable way of finding work that is right for you. It is also helpful to have accounts on sites such as Facebook and Linked in where you can share that you are looking for a position. Remember, one must be circumspect about what information and images one posts online especially when using these sites for a job search. Employment opportunities are still listed in the daily newspapers so don’t forget to look in the help wanted sections.
5- For online applications make sure your documents have your name in the document/file title and are in a word document or pdf file, if required. You may also be requested to copy and paste information into an online template.
6-To make a good first impression is still one of the most important tenants for professional and personal success. If you should earn a job interview, dress appropriately in simple slacks (or skirts if appropriate for women), with a jacket or a suit (tie for men).
7-Do some research on the company or organization so you are familiar with them and prepare a few questions for your interviewer.
8-Be prepared with print copies of your resume and examples of your work.
9-Be on time, so plan your transportation requirements accordingly.
10-Show your enthusiasm and never discuss salary requests until you are asked. Do have an idea of what you feel you need or want as compensation.
11- After the interview email a professional thank you note to your interviewer within 24 hours.
Returning to the work force at any age is a challenge. As an older adult you have experience that is unmatched in younger workers but you may have additional challenges as well, including physical abilities, technological knowledge and social security or other support program conflicts. Do your research, know your boundaries and if you are willing and able, take a chance. It’s clear that an older adult brings a valuable commodity, decades of experience, to the work force and to a business.