The job market for the 50+ age group seems to be improving. Slowly unemployment is declining. But mature workers continue to meet obstacles (real and imagined) that are preventing them from working. AARP has provided some excellent articles and tools for this group. One of their articles published earlier this year, How Should Older Workers Navigate the Job Market? is particularly helpful. They also have a Life Reimagined for Work section which provides tools for job seekers.
There are many reasons why this group is seeking employment: need the money for themselves, to support children, grandchildren, or parents; miss the social environment work provides; want to continue to use their skills or develop new ones. The list goes on.
Research, our own and from others’, has unearthed that many people ages 50-65 who are seeking a job are physically and/or emotionally tired and anxious. Some have disabilities that make working an even greater challenge. These circumstances make it even harder to keep looking. Unfortunately burn out, rust out, and the apathy that comes from repeated disappointment is telegraphing their state of mind to interviewers. As one HR staffer told us, “They look rejected before the interview even starts. Where is the motivation? Quite a few let their anger at their circumstances seep through. Some actually say that they never expected they would have to be working at this life stage.” Not very positive, is it?
We recommend that people get to know their drivers....reasons why they work beyond a paycheck. Knowing your drivers will improve your chances of finding a job that you are happy about doing. We recently asked staffing executives what these mature job seekers can do to set themselves apart from the pack and highlight their talents. Here are a few suggestions they offered.
- Show up prepared and dressed appropriately. Look like you want the job.
- Never forget you are a skills merchant. Tell us what you have done to keep your skills relevant and up to date, e.g. do you take classes, attend seminars, get training. Remember it is a competition (we suggest individuals take the Rewirement Ramp Up Quiz to get to know themselves better before the interview).
- Be prepared to talk specifics. Tell us what you have that is pertinent to our job opening and our business.
- Be confident. If you act dejected you will be rejected.
- When we ask, “What do you know about our company?” be able to answer it with specifics. Research their website, read Google articles, find out who their major competitors are, and if you can ask current or former employees about the culture. You would be amazed how many people never go on the company website prior to the interview. What a lost opportunity.