Women over 50 are responsible, emotionally intelligent, and dependable; of course companies want us on their teams! But, if you’re in the market for a job and haven’t hunted in the last ten years, here are five things you should know:
Gone are the days of typing up a resume and cover letter, mailing it to a company’s HR department and waiting to be called for an interview. Job hunting is done online now. If you choose to apply using an employment website (e.g. Fairygodboss), the choices can be overwhelming. There are numerous subcategories of jobs and each may have their own mandatory specializations and/or certifications. Many require experience, even for entry level positions. Competition in the market is fierce. College graduates want to replace mature workers, but people are keeping their jobs longer because they can’t afford to retire. This leaves the workforce with a glut of talent.
Hiring managers are nervous about hiring mature women. They assume we’re overqualified, we don’t want a boss younger than us and we’re just marking time to retirement. They assume we won’t take an entry-level job, many of which demand passing a skills test. Hiring managers don’t think we’re fluent in technology or that we’ll bring creativity and enthusiasm to the position. To combat these stereotypes, include your LinkedIn URL on your resume. In your cover letter, refer to something you saw on the company’s Twitter feed. At an absolute minimum, you must know how to create an Excel spreadsheet, Word document and a PowerPoint presentation. If you don’t, take online courses like these. Most companies assume anyone they hire is familiar with these tools. In your interview, communicate humility, curiosity and a desire to be a member of a diverse team.
Recruiters use social media to find candidates. Follow companies you want to work for on your platforms and create a profile on LinkedIn. Find people with your job title whose profiles look professional and use them as a template. Pay attention to their headlines and use the same keywords they do so recruiters can find you. Use a recent photo. (When you show up to an interview looking 10 years older than your profile picture, that does not help you make a good impression.) LinkedIn is a conversation; Don’t just upload your resume and wait. Connect with people at companies you want to work for, follow their pages and promote them on your timeline.
It’s incredibly time consuming, but you must tailor your resume to each position. You’ll have to apply on companies’ websites and ATS systems will scan your resume looking for keywords from their job descriptions. Use the words they use. If one of the job requirements is “review, analyze and resolve interface issues,” your resume needs to say exactly that. If it’s more than two pages long, try to whittle it down to one. Unless the experience relates to the job for which you’re applying, only go back 10 years and avoid listing dates next to your positions. Don’t trust spellcheck. Proofread your resume before submitting it.
Managers hire people they know or get recommendations from their connections because it mitigates their risk of making a bad hire. You almost always have to have a personal connection to a company in order to get a job there. Networks are key. Add value to your connections by commenting on their Facebook posts, liking their Instagram stories and sharing their LinkedIn articles. Reach out to former colleagues for coffee and catchup. Job hunting is more complicated than it used to be, but with a little grit and patience, you’ll be ready when the right opportunity comes along.
Mardi has been compared to the C.U.L.A. Advisor in “Legally Blonde,” which she takes as a compliment. She loves talking about all things communication, marketing, and relationships. Visit her at www.mardihumphreys.com.
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