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Top 5 Tips for Older Job Seekers in 2014

You’ve been applying for jobs for a while and are convinced you are missing out because you don’t wear skinny jeans and tweet. So here our top 5 tips to help fight bias and give you the best shot at getting the job you want in 2014.

Before I start, I need to say these tips are relevant for all job seekers (regardless of age) and there are as many younger candidates that need help as older ones. Notwithstanding that, it is true that some employers are reluctant to hire people they assume are less flexible, more expensive or less technologically savvy. If you are over 55 or have been out of work for a while, it is hard not to feel the odds are stacked against you.

So before you resort to Botox or give up entirely……..

1.Give your resume a facelift. More specifically:

a.Don’t let your font age you
Believe it or not, the font you use on your resume can age you. Use a sans serif font such as Calibri or Ariel and get rid of your Times New Roman. Using a smaller font (i.e. 11 or even 10 point is good) is a great way to modernise your resume and will help you fit in what you need, on no more than 3 pages.

b. Delete
Delete any reference to years of experience. Saying you have 25 years of experience doesn’t do anything other than highlight your age and isn’t relevant anyway. The only thing that is relevant is the skills and achievements you gained over that time. While you are at it, you should also delete the year you finished school or university and your address. Why give anyone a reason to discriminate against you?

c. Colour and movement
Add some colour to your resume – I’m not saying you need graphics, images or photos, just a shaded heading or coloured title can make a big difference. Remember, most resumes are only ever viewed on a screen so you might as well make yours stand out.

d. Shape up
If you are participating in any kind of fitness or sport, you need to mention it in your resume. You can slot it into hobbies but better still, mention it in your cover letter or in your introduction. Again, this applies to all candidates but is especially important for older candidates to dispel any doubts employers may have about your energy or activity levels.

e. Links
Read below about the importance of social media in the job hunting process. A good resume in 2014 will include a direct link to your LinkedIn profile. It’s that important.

f. Find a Gen Y friend
Try out your resume on a younger friend or family member before sending it to an employer. Do a draft email and attach your resume so that your friend can read and check the fonts, layout etc. Let them give you honest advice and be prepared to take it.

g. PDF it.
Send your resume out in PDF format. This is modern, professional and clean.

2. Apply for the right role

This is the single most important tip for any job hunter at any age and at any level. No candidate (regardless of age) is ever going to get the wrong role and continuously applying for roles that don’t make sense and being constantly rejected will only chip away at your confidence. Think carefully about what is achievable for you, what location works best and what package you need. It’s very easy when you are looking for work to convince yourself you are the perfect candidate for a particular role, but sometimes you need to step back and be objective.

3. Get social

Being involved in social media is no longer an option for those that “have time” and if you are not on LinkedIn, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Depending on the role you are applying for, it would be very hard for any candidate (particularly an older one) to convince an employer they know what is going on in the market if they do not have any understanding of social media. While you are at it, you should also join Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too. Follow the companies whose jobs you’re applying for, connect with people you think may be able to help or refer you and you will start to see why the world is embracing these tools. Don’t give up on this process until you feel the social media penny drop.

4. Read your own resume  

I mean really STOP……., clear your desk and read it from beginning to end. When you are reading, get a pencil and write down all your extra thoughts, projects, ideas and achievements from your career.  Think of stories (both good and bad), clients you presented to, clients you lost, negotiations you nailed, marketing plans you developed and presented and more. The more stories the better. Stories help you really remember how much you have done and achieved in your career and will make you feel a lot more confident about what you can bring to a new employer. This exercise will help you to (a) decide on the most important things to put in your resume and (b) help you think of some examples if you get a call from an employer or an interview. In any interview situation, the more relevant examples of previous performance you can offer the better.

5. Don’t sledge

Never be negative about younger candidates or about your job hunting experience.

The reality is that applying for a new job is hard work – regardless of age. The trick is to have a great resume that is easy to read, use a cover letter or email that isn’t too long and matches your experience to the role you are applying for. You also need to apply for the right role.

 Reinvent Your Career would like to thank Career Driven where this article first appeared.

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