The Secret to Acing an Interview After 50

  • The biggest stumbling blocks to older workers are…
  • Avoid putting this red flag on your resume…
  • Nothing ages someone more in an interview than…

Dear Rich Lifer,

Finding work in your 50s or 60s is no easy task, but new and somewhat surprising employment data suggests that prospects are improving, especially for older job seekers.

One big reason?

This is the tightest labor market in nearly two decades, causing employers to look beyond the sea of Millennial candidates.

At the end of July, there were nearly 7.3 million unfilled jobs, but only 6.1 million people looking for work, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in July for Americans 55 years and over was 2.7 percent, less than the overall unemployment rate at 3.7 percent.

What’s more encouraging is the average length of unemployment for older job seekers has dropped significantly since 2012.

It’s down from roughly 50 weeks to 34 weeks for job hunters age 55 to 64 and down from about 62 weeks to 30 weeks for those 65+.

In other words, it takes about seven to eight months on average to find a job if you’re over 55.

Stumbling Blocks for Those Over 50

Something I don’t think is given enough attention today are the unique challenges the over-50 crowd faces when looking for work.

Older applicants are competing with tech-savvy Millennials who often come at a cheaper price, and although age discrimination is technically illegal, it’s still pretty hard to enforce.

A study by the Government Accountability Office found five common barriers to employment for older workers:

High salary expectations — You may need to compromise on pay as your skills might not be as up to date as they once were.

Younger bosses — It’s human nature to want to work with people who are like you. If that’s the case, you need to learn how to address this obstacle in an interview.

Out of date skills — Technology is evolving faster than ever. Whether it’s applying for a job online or actually being able to operate new software, the pace can be overwhelming.

Expensive health benefits — The older you get, the more expensive your health premiums become. Bigger companies will be less impacted by this than smaller firms.

Bias — Old habits (and ideas) die hard. Know what biases you’re up against so you can get in front.

Acing the Interview

If it’s been a while since you were actively looking for work, you’ll notice certain aspects of the application and interview process has changed.

My hope today is to give you a few pointers on how to land your next gig, whether you’re coming off a layoff or looking for part-time work as a recent retiree.

If you follow these 10 tips, your inbox should be full of offer letters in the next few months.

Tip 1: Tap Your Network

A major benefit to having been in the workforce for so many years is your network of contacts. Don’t be shy to reach out to old bosses, co-workers, even subordinates.

Let them know you’re on the job hunt. Companies like referrals and it’s a lot easier to get your foot in the door if you know someone.

Tip 2: Get on LinkedIn

A quick way to tap your network is to connect with them on LinkedIn, the popular business-oriented social platform.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, create one now. LinkedIn has become the go-to site for recruiters and hiring managers.

There’s plenty of good advice online that will walk you through how to build an attractive profile that will grab the attention of headhunters.

Bonus: just having a decent LinkedIn profile shows that you’re somewhat tech-savvy helping fight the ‘tech-illiterate’ label.

Tip 3: Update your Wardrobe

This might sound superficial but you need to dress for the job you want, and I don’t mean wearing a C-suite suit.

Your look should appear vibrant and modern. You don’t want to look dated because it’ll make the interviewer think that your skills are dated too.

The goal is to look age-appropriate yet current. Invest in a new suit, a slimmer fitted dress shirt, or a new pair of shoes. If you wear glasses, prioritize getting those updated first. Nothing ages someone more than an out-of-date pair of eyeglasses.

Tip 4: Update your Email Address

If you’re still using an old AOL or Hotmail account, you need to sign up for a newer email service. Get a Gmail or Outlook account to show you’re keeping up with the times.

It probably won’t win you a job, but it definitely won’t raise any red flags during the screening process either.

Also, check out Zoho and iCloud Mail, these are newer email services that’ll show you’re a little more tech-forward.

Tip 5: Modernize Your Resume

First, be sure to keep your resume to two pages max. Even if you’ve had a long and successful career, don’t bother listing every job you’ve held.

A good rule-of-thumb is to go back 10 to 15 years in your work history. This will also help disguise your age a bit should you be unfairly categorized. You can leave off the year you graduated from school, as well.

Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile URL and newly updated email address. If you have a landline, it’s best to leave it off and just use your cellphone.

These are minor details that will show a hiring manager you’re up to date.

Tip 6: Use Experience to Your Advantage

A major advantage you probably have over younger applicants is your experience, make sure you point that out and show how your expertise will help the company.

Don’t just tout your past though. Talk about the future and how you can mentor and groom the next generation of leaders in the company.

Tip 7: Show Adaptability

There’s a notion that older workers are typically going to be set in their ways. This is a common hurdle the over-50 job seeker must face. To fight this stereotype, you need to show that you’re adaptable to change.

When you speak to hiring managers, talk about situations where you adapted to change and the positive outcomes from doing so. Another way to show your flexibility is your willingness to take on temporary, part-time, or project-based work.

Employers understand that young job seekers want full-time jobs with benefits and security for their families. Older workers can fill the void especially for jobs that are seasonal or temporary by nature.

Tip 8: Keep up on Trends in Your Field

An easy way to impress hiring managers is to show that you’ve been keeping up in your field. To do this you can simply read industry newsletters, books, or watch videos online.

There are plenty of online courses you can take for further career development. Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera are all good places to start looking.

Tip 9: Highlight Your Tech Skills

You can’t get around it. In today’s workplace, you need to have a solid understanding of the technology used in your field. Find ways to weave the tech skills you have and are learning into the recruitment process.

For instance: instead of just saying you’re proficient in Excel, give a quick example of how you used Excel to filter large sets of data using pivot tables.

Tip 10: Show You’re High Energy

You want to give the impression that you’re ready to hit the ground running and not simply winding down for retirement. Terms like energetic, fast-paced, and looking for a new challenge are easy ways to liven up your resume.

No doubt, finding work as you get older becomes more challenging.

But that certainly doesn’t mean that you have less to offer than younger candidates. You just have to exert a little more effort to show that in your resume and during the interview process.
Stick to the basics and follow these 10 tips, it’ll help improve your odds of landing a job, or two.

To a richer life,

Nilus Mattive

— Nilus Mattive
Editor, The Rich Life Roadmap

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