Q: I am looking for work as an older adult and finding it difficult. Do you have any tips for an older job seeker?
A: Many older adults look for new work opportunities for various reasons, including financial needs, the joy of new work challenges and the satisfaction of completing a purposeful workday. However, job searching as an older adult can sometimes present new challenges.
While you may find the job search frustrating, take a minute to remind yourself why you are a valuable candidate. Employers are looking for people who can be team players, dependable, enthusiastic, and honest. Give yourself a pep talk about all the reasons the employer should be lucky to have you.
Take some time to consider what you are looking for from a new job. Consider what industry you want to be in, what job tasks are important to you and what job tasks you do not enjoy. Once you identified an area you want to work in, start with talking your friends, family or past coworkers who may be working in or connected to your field of interest. You never know who will have the right linkage for you, and word of mouth is sometimes the best place to find hidden job opportunities.
If you identify someone in a job that looks appealing, consider asking them to coffee to share their ideas on how to get into their field. Networking is an important of the job search these days. Keeping an open mind and talking to people in the field may bring new ideas to your search.
Always have a well-prepared resume ready to send out and provide to anyone willing to help you. Focus on your achievements and not just your skills. Show how you have applied your skills to further your role and to benefit the company, as well. Start each bullet point with a strong verb such as achieved, implemented, or improved.
Most jobs need to be applied for online. Be aware that an online system will first sort the resumes and highlight the ones that appear to be the best fit. Ensure yours will be seen by using the specific keywords from the job posting in your application. Make sure to include a working email that you check regularly.
If you feel that you would benefit from skill building classes to enhance your skills and resume, take advantage of the many online learning opportunities available. There are many online schools to choose from, including The Ventura Adult School at www.adultedventura.edu, and the Oxnard Adult School at www.oxnardadulted.edu. The Area Agency on Aging has a partnership with a new online learning website called Get Set Up. You can find their free classes here https://www.getsetup.io/partner/Ventura
Job searching can be very time consuming and it is easy to get frustrated and give up, or not devote enough time and energy to the search. However, if you really want to work, be willing to put the time in and consider this first “job” to be the search
process. Write a to-do list of what you can do each day towards your search and stick to it.
Be prepared to pivot to get a job that works for you. During the pandemic we heard this word often. Pivoting means the ability to shift directions and be flexible. Think of other ways to use your skills in the current job market and be open minded.
Once you have an interview, prepare yourself for success. Do your research on the company and, if possible, who you will be meeting with Bring an extra copy of your resume. Dress professionally and carry a notebook to take notes. Prepare a few questions ahead of time to ask the employer.
Many interviews are being conducted online now. Ask ahead of time about the type of technology that will be used for a video interview and practice using it. Check how your background looks and be sure to have a quiet space to work.
Remember to be friendly and smile. Employers want to picture working with you, so show your enthusiasm in the interview.
There are many state and federal laws that protect job seekers against discrimination, including against ageism. If you have questions about this, contact the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at www.eeoc.gov.
Keep your goal in mind, write it down and let it motivate you. The right opportunity will come along if you are open to it and do the work to find it.
Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.