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Over 50? 5 tips for finding a job

Do you feel that your age is working against you as you search for a job? Learn to identify the qualities that come with age and turn them into assets.

By Stacy Johnson Mar 12, 2012 12:34PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe recession's been rough on everyone, especially older workers. When older Americans fall out of the workforce, they find it tougher to get back in.


A recent AARP Public Policy Institute fact sheet said the average length of unemployment for all ages was about 35 weeks. But for those over 55, it was 56 weeks.


In the video below, Stacy Johnson offers some tips for getting back in the game for those who are over 50.  Check it out, then read on for more.

It’s true that older workers are holding on to their jobs better than most: Last year's average unemployment rate for older workers, 6% to 7%, was lower than the national average of about 9%. And just last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase of about 1.7 million workers over 55 in the past year.

But good news doesn't do much for you if you're one of those still on the sidelines. Here are some tips to shorten the search:


Play your age up, not down. There's no hiding your age in an interview, so make it an asset. But instead of focusing on the number, highlight what comes with it: your experience and reliability. Career counselor Vernon Bailey, interviewed in the video above, adds, "Younger people might not have that experience, and you're demonstrating you can do it, because you've already done it."


Learn the tech. If anyone thinks you're "behind the times" or "out of touch," prove them wrong. If 81-year-old media mogul Rupert Murdoch can learn to use Twitter, so can you. Behind on industry-specific skills and software? Brush up with some courses or teach yourself. AARP WorkSearch, one of the resources we mentioned in "4 places for free job training," has an education and training section to help you decide what's right for you and where you can get it.


Settle for less -- at first. Go easy on salary negotiations and aim for performance-based bonuses rather than a higher base pay. Bailey says, "Consider what they're offering with the caveat to renegotiate after six months" once you've proven you deserve more. Focus on getting your foot in the door. If you sense that the employer is wavering because of money, explain you're flexible and just want to prove yourself -- and that they'll spend less time and money training you than someone younger. If you're looking to change fields, you might even consider an internship -- they're not just for college kids anymore.


According to this Public Radio International story, more than half of companies would consider hiring older workers, but only about 7% said they get applicants who are older than 50. 


Prove you're a good fit. Any decent job candidate has to show he or she can adapt to the culture and be a team player. For older workers, this might mean persuading a younger boss you're not out for his job. Ever worked for a startup or some other company with a younger culture? Mentioning that might help. If not, make it clear in the interview that you're not there to challenge authority, and don't imply that you can teach Junior a lot of life lessons.


Update and trim your résumé. Here's the AARP's résumé advice, which includes some samples in different styles. However you choose to organize your work history, don't include it all. Go back only 10 to 15 years. No matter how much experience you have, employers probably won't skim through more than two pages. The exception is if they specifically ask for a full rundown -- for instance, a curriculum vitae in academia.


Be careful with your language. Some terms and phrases that were common and accepted the last time you had to look for work may be out of date. Try looking at the résumé of a younger professional (but not a new college grad's) for guidance.


Bottom line? Think young, act mature. Most of the qualities that may make you seem vulnerable can actually give you the edge when presented properly.

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Mar 13, 2012 5:13AM
By all means, learn to use Twitter? Come on. 
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