Searching for a job can be daunting for people of any age, but the strategies someone in their 20s and entering the work force might use can be very different for people ages 40 and older.
A free workshop, “Job Search Skills for the Age 40-plus Worker,” at the Hamilton Public Library at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, looks at the statistics facing older workers and evaluates the skills and competencies they needed for a job search in today’s market. The session, being organized by N.J. Unemployed, targets the age 40-plus employee looking to change careers, jobs, or re-enter the workforce.
Topics presented during the event will include motivation; career and transferable skills assessment; choosing the appropriate resume format; and examining a job description for key job skills and matches. The session will also cover networking, interviewing, and follow-up activities for a successful job search strategy.
Nancy Anderson, president of Blackbird Learning Associates, a job search training company, will be the speaker. She has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and relationship management in the pharmaceutical, finance, and insurance industries.
She has worked for Johnson & Johnson, the CIT Group, the Bank of New York, and Chubb Insurance. During her career, she has trained thousands of domestic and international employees.
Anderson, who is the author of the book “Job Search for Moms,” writes about job search issues in her blog, “The Flap,” at blackbirdlearningassociates.blogspot.com. In a recent post, Anderson wrote about mistaken assumptions older job seekers make based on a report released by MetLife Mature Market Instituter.
I will just do what I was doing. Many older workers assume that they can continue doing what they did before leaving their last position. But in reality, skills and technology have probably changed. Older job seekers need to visualize themselves doing something different or using their skills in a new way.
My past experience is enough. Anderson says if you can’t link your skills to the employer’s needs then you are discounted before the interview. “Older workers need to be able to explain how their experience can help solve problems in the future and help make that company a success.”
I’ll be a consultant. Many don’t take into consideration the actual skills needed to be a consultant as well as the physical demands and psychological fit, she says.
I’m good with computers. People must evaluate their technical skills to see if they are relevant. “If not, don’t include them on your resume and get some training in the current technologies,” says Anderson. Do some research and find out what employers are looking for.
I’ve always been successful. Why should things be different now? “Thinking that the past is the best predictor of the future isn’t going to work today,” she says. “Technology, wages, and skill sets have all changed.”
Anderson also writes about the keys to a successful job search for older workers.
Acknowledge the new realities of the job market. “Yes, there is age discrimination, but deal with it,” she says. “Realistically assess the local employment market and go from there.” Job hunters need to identify growing or stable industries — food, transportation, energy, healthcare, and accounting do well during bad economic times — and also look for organizations that are respectful of older workers. She recommends checking retirementjobs.com, looking up AARP’s Best Employers for Workers Over 50, and researching small and medium-sized companies that might value your experience and skill set.
Reframe your expectations to demonstrate your future value. Identify the specific value you can bring to the workplace while at the same time recognizing that your underlying skill set must be constantly evolving. Most importantly, be aware of your skills, values, and passions and be able to articulate how these can have an impact on the future of the company.
Nurture your network. “Nurture your network to cut through the electronic application process and the age bias,” says Anderson. “Align your passions and skills to similar people, volunteer, or speak at various events in your field. Realize that networking isn’t always about finding a job; it is about developing relationships.” Spending time with people in their 20s and 30s isn’t a bad idea either.
In the long run, people need to also evaluate their future financial needs as they relate to their need versus want to work. “Some people in this age group have a waning urge or ambivalence to work, but this must be balanced by understanding and seriously planning for the future,” says Anderson. “Older job seekers may be more successful if they are absolutely clear about their financial needs.”