Finding meaningful and rewarding work is difficult for just about everyone–especially in a competitive job market.
Older jobseekers, however, face unique challenges landing choice employment positions. Age discrimination can be a real factor in the hiring process, and the barriers can be even higher if you’re coming off a prolonged period of unemployment.
Are you a baby boomer looking to re-enter the workforce? Do you feel like you’re fighting against age discrimination?
Here are a few tips for older professionals interested in an encore career:
1. Be focused in your search
This rule applies to everyone but can be particularly useful to older jobseekers, who may have extensive and highly-specialized professional experience. Rather than casting a wide net in your job search, focus only on the opportunities and organizations, that best align with your interests and skills.
When you are clear about what you want in a job and target the specific organizations you want to work for, you end up with greater control over the entire job search process. Focus gives you the ability to frame your vast experience into a compelling sales proposition for employers.
2. Look for organizations with problems you can solve
It’s a simple fact: companies hire employees to solve problems. As you research potential employers, try to identify the specific challenges each organization is facing. When you know the problem to be solved, you have the inside scoop for how to best present your skill set.
(One of the best ways of doing this is simply asking “What can I do for you?” in informational interviews.)
You’re not going to be the solution for every problem or every organization. But you probably have the unique skills and know-how to solve specific organizational challenges. Target your energy and resources at these situations. There is no better way to turn your age and depth of experience into an asset.
3. Leverage your network
This is an area where you definitely have an advantage over younger jobseekers. The longer you live on the planet, the more people you meet and know. All of these people are part of your personal and professional network. Use them to advance your job search!
Reach out to friends, social acquaintances, old classmates, former colleagues, and even family members. Who knows what kind of opportunities and connections these people can provide!
4. Consider self-employment or freelance work
It’s possible that the best way to market your experience and abilities isn’t as an employee, but rather as an independent consultant/contractor. A freelance, “do it yourself” career certainly involves risks, but it can also be more flexible, rewarding, and profitable.
Many older workers chose self-employment as part of an encore career; people aged 55-64 start 10,000 new businesses each month. If you’re tired of working for someone else (or trying to fit into younger office cultures), self-employment is a viable option you may want to consider.