10 job search tips for older workers who struggle to land a job

Last updated: May 21, 2024
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Rochelly Fajardo
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10 job search tips for older workers who struggle to land a job
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10 job search tips for older workers

It’s tough to enter the job market as a young worker without any experience, but older workers also have to face their own unique set of challenges. Despite many older workers having years of experience, they tend to face discrimination due to their age.

If you’re an older worker struggling to find a job, you’re not alone — and you don’t have to stay stuck. Let’s explore some job search tips for older workers to help you along your career path, no matter your age.

What are job search challenges for older workers?

So what does it mean to be an older worker in today’s economy and workforce?

Workers aged 50 and over are an important part of the US workforce. They represent over a third of the workforce — 37.3%, to be exact. That’s 16.1 million workers!

6.4 million of these workers are 60 or older. And despite several laws in place for older workers, they can still face age discrimination worldwide.

A recent survey showed that 58% of hiring managers believed workers between the ages of 35 and 44 had the most relevant experience for the job, even though older workers typically have more experience under their belt. 44% of these hiring managers also believed that the younger age group was a better fit for company culture compared to the older group.

When compared to workers between 45 and 60, these numbers fell to 18% and 15%, respectively. That’s a huge gap and indicates that older workers who feel discriminated against aren’t imagining it.

Workers aged 50 and up have also consistently made up between 40% and 70% of long-term unemployment since 2015.

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10 job search tips for older workers

If you’re an older worker looking for a job, don’t get discouraged. Despite the challenges for workers aged 50 and older, people of this age group also have strengths that their younger counterparts don’t have. Here are 10 tips you can use to make your search easier if you’re a part of this age group.

1. Stay on your toes with recent technology

Why do employers believe younger workers have a better fit for experience and skills compared to older workers? In some cases, this may be due to a gap in knowledge with recent technology.

Understanding recent technology is especially important in an office environment. Operating systems evolve quickly, and so do tools and software.

Even low-tech jobs usually require some sort of knowledge of technology. For instance, retail workers now need to know how to operate self-serve checkout systems so that they can support customers who use them. Restaurant servers need to understand how a POS system works.

Falling behind with technology is a slippery slope. To prevent this from happening later in your career, start practicing using the latest technology that’s used in the workplace, especially if you feel uncomfortable with it.

For example, make sure you try out new video conferencing tools or the most recent smartphone operating systems. If you don’t have access to these tools, see if someone in your personal network can lend you one from time to time.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a friend or family member who is more comfortable with these tools. Keep an open mind and be ready to accept constructive criticism. On the other hand, ask your friend or family member to be patient with you as you learn these new skills.

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2. Grow your professional network

A professional network is useful for job seekers and professionals of all ages. It allows you to find more job opportunities by leveraging your connections with the people you know.

When you stay in touch with the people in your network, you may hear about job openings that aren’t listed anywhere else, which gives you an edge over candidates who aren’t in the know. You can also get your foot in the door through your contacts, especially if they can vouch for your skills, experience, and character.

One of the ways you can keep and grow your network is to create a Jobcase account to grow your community. This will allow you to connect with people you may not know yet since you can add your existing connections on Jobcase and connect with people they know.

You can also participate in community conversations to provide your perspective, answer questions, and get support for your own questions. For instance, you can inquire about recent technology in your field to get advice on how to stay up-to-date.

In addition to networking online, you can also attend in-person networking and hiring events. You’ll get to create more instant connections with people compared to what you’d get if you only met online.

Remember to bring business cards to networking events. Your business card can describe your current position or ideal job position, depending on where you’re at in your career.

3. Identify your skill gaps (and fill them)

You likely have strengths due to your years of experience. But, like everyone, you likely also have weaknesses and skill gaps.

There’s no shame in not knowing how to do everything. The more skill gaps you fill, the more you’ll appear as a desirable candidate to potential employers.

Find out what your biggest skill gaps are so that you know what to work on. You can search through job listings for your ideal jobs to find out what employers are looking for.

Keep developing your skills, no matter your age. You can focus on hard and soft skills to remain well-rounded as a professional.

If you’re not sure where you can develop your new skills, consider reaching out to colleagues who have the skills you’re looking for. You can also seek out free online certifications and free online courses. Because so many universities make their courses available for free online, you don’t have to officially go back to school or pay for tuition to continue your education.

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4. Keep your resume focused

You don’t have to list your entire work history on your resume. While discrimination based on age is illegal in the US, some hiring managers will see a long resume as a sign of an older worker and hold a bias against you.

Only include the past 10-15 years of your career history. Add the most relevant information for the job you’re applying to. List the jobs and skills that will make the most sense based on what this potential employer is looking for.

Don’t include graduation dates for high school, and don’t include graduation dates if you went to college in your early 20s. You can include college graduation dates if you went back to college later in life.

Additionally, make sure to remove skills for outdated technology. For example, you can remove outdated accounting systems or previous operating systems for computers.

5. Use your lifelong skills to your advantage

You have an edge that younger workers don’t have yet — more life experience. Brainstorm the skills you’ve accumulated over your life and see what could be relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.

These skills and sets of experiences don’t just have to come from your work life. What you’ve gone through in your personal life could be valuable for potential employers as well. Consider, for instance, the skills required to manage a household with children, including:

  • Time management

  • Budgeting

  • Managing appointments and extracurricular activities

  • Keeping and updating a home inventory

If you’ve spent several years in the same industry, those decades of experience also give you an edge. As mentioned before, you don’t have to specify which years you’ve worked in that industry. Someone with 10-15 years of experience in an industry could be anywhere from 35 to 75+ years old.

While you can age-proof a resume, you can’t hide your age during an interview. However, you can prepare in a way that shows hiring managers you’re ready for the future.

Some hiring managers may want to invest in an employee that will stick around for years to come. If you’re 50 or older, some of these hiring managers may fear that you want to retire early.

You’ll likely get asked where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years. Have an answer ready that shows you’re still in the game. Specify you’re not eager to retire and that you’ve got plenty of drive and passion.

Be as specific as possible about where you see your career going in the future. You can also speak about skills that you’d like to keep developing. When you have a plan, it’s obvious that you’re not planning to retire or to coast.

But what if you are planning to retire in the next few years? It’s important to remain honest about your intentions but focus on what you’ll bring to the company while you’re there — not on when you plan to retire.

7. Watch your posture during the interview

Bad posture can make it seem like you’re older than you really are. During your interview, focus on keeping good posture the entire time.

Sit up straight and avoid hunching. You should also avoid crossing your arms or leaning away from the interviewer.

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8. Stay up to date with your industry

In addition to keeping up with technology and your skills, you should also stay up to date with the industry you want to work in.

For example, make it a point to read up on the latest news at least once a week. Most industries have specific online publications and journals that are free to access, and you’ll even find updates in general news publications.

You can sign up for free newsletters to receive curated news every day or every week in your email inbox. For instance, Food Business News has several free newsletters. Morning Brew also offers several newsletters in various industries, including:

  • HR

  • Marketing

  • Emerging Tech

  • Finance

  • Retail

  • Politics

In addition to newsletters, you can also see what conversations real people are having online about your industry. The Jobcase community is a great example of these conversations.

9. Focus on your accomplishments

Think back on your biggest accomplishments throughout your career. Accomplishments can be:

  • Results you’ve gotten for your employers, like better productivity, increased sales, better customer reviews, and more

  • Personal achievements

  • Other notable accomplishments you deem relevant

Include those accomplishments on your resume. When you show up to job interviews, have them at the back of your mind so you can discuss them.

10. Try a career change

It’s never too late to pursue a career you’ve always wanted to try. Consider trying something new to regain motivation if you no longer feel motivated doing what you do.

A career change can breathe new life into the job search process and give you the energy and drive to develop new skills. Even if you branch out into something completely different, you likely have transferable skills from your previous jobs and life experiences that you can leverage.

Is there a particular job you've always wanted to do? If so, now is the time. Start researching what skills you need to develop to increase your chances of landing a job in this new field.

Make sure you read our article on making a successful career change to help you in this journey.

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Get hired no matter your age

It’s no secret that older workers face challenges that younger workers don’t. But they also have strengths and skills that can give them an edge if they know how to use them to their advantage.

Whether you’re an older worker or not, joining Jobcase can help you on your job search journey. You can connect with like-minded workers, grow your network, and get notified of job openings near you. Sign up for free to get started.



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