You’re looking for work after 50 and you are worried about age discrimination. There is no doubt it’s out there. However, you have some considerable advantages with a career change after 50, how you package these advantages will determine how you overcome some of the age stereotypes.
Here are seven tips that you can help you make a successful career change after 50 and minimize the discrimination from happening.
1. Learn about the lay of the land: Prospective employers know better that to ask about your age. However, issues like working for a younger boss need to be addressed.
One way to handle this issue is to weave a comment into the interview how, in the past, you worked for a younger boss, and how it was absolutely no problem. Give examples of how it worked out, with your experience in projects, teams working together, presentations and other work related issues.
Research the company. If they make it a point to mention their diverse work force, you can comment on how this makes the company stronger.
2. A Step Back: If the job you are seeking is not at your previous level, draft your resume in a more functional style. Downplay the job titles. You goal is to get the employer to view how you can do the job rather than thinking about how this over 50 job seeker would not fit in.
There are challenges in every new career and in every new position. It’s up to you to find them and clearly communicate them to your prospective new employer. How you handle challenges and your career plan of livelong learning needs to be added to your resume cover letter and woven into your job interview.
3. Be up to date: Nothing is worse for the job hunter after 50, after all the hard work of securing the job interview, than to show up for the interview wearing a suit that doesn’t fit, a dress shirt with the top button that is way to tight, a tie that is outdated and a hairstyle and sideburns that went out with the 70’s. Solve these prospective problems right now. Go see your doctor and get cleared for an exercise program. Watch your diet. Wait for the suit sales and buy a suit or blazer that fits properly.
Ladies should wear a suit with pants or a skirt. Minimum jewelry light makeup and perfume will complete the proper look.
Study the culture of the prospective employer and copy the look. Look up to date and you’ll make the desirable first impression.
4. Ace the technology questions: In every career and industry there are software advances that you must keep current. Self-study, evening courses, on-line education will help you keep up with industry trends.
Use informational interviews with those currently working in the career to learn about new advances. They will steer you toward appropriate areas of study. Don’t lose that desirable after 50 career because you neglect this important area.
5. Clean up your resume and interview: Personal information like date of birth, martial status, social security number, year graduated from college have no place on your resume. Focus on the employer judging you on your experience and accomplishments rather than your age.
If relevant, list only the past 10, perhaps up to 15 years, employment history on your resume. If asked about previous experience beyond 10-15 years keep your answer short and focus on your more recent accomplishments and how they relate to the current position.
Don’t get into a talking about the “good old days.” Ask about the employer’s current needs and challenges and stick to what you can do for them.
6. Salary issues: When the conversation gets around to salary, and if you are starting a new career after 50, you have a dilemma. If you tell them what you were making previously, you may scare them off, as they can’t match that level of pay. You should tell them up front that you understand your previous position was at a more senior level and it was reflected in your salary but now you are more interested in the new career and are open to start at the mid to high end of the salary range.
In your career planning you’ve researched and outlined why the new career is right for you. Remind the prospective employer of the research you’ve done on the new career. Again, briefly remind them of what experience and levels of achievement you will be bringing to the new position.
7. Why smaller companies might be the answer: In you research of your career change after 50, keep in mind that smaller companies are more likely to look favorably on more mature candidates. First there is usually less competition; you’ll likely be dealing with the owner or manager who is closer to your age, and the position will likely be broader in scope than a narrower career at a larger employer.
Finding the new career after 50 can be a challenge, but you can make the mid-life career change by following these tips, building and following a detailed career action plan, and not letting age being a barrier to a new career.