Finding a career over 50 can sound daunting, but you’re in luck. According to a recent Adecco Staffing US survey of hiring managers, “mature” workers (defined by this survey as workers 50 and older) are actually very attractive to companies, even more so than other generations.
In fact, hiring managers are three times more likely to hire a mature worker than a millennial, classified as the generation 20-30 years old, a testament to how valuable these workers are. According to the Department of Labor, by 2014 those over the age of 55 will have an employment rate of 41 percent, comprising more than 21 percent of the U.S. workforce. Because the competition for employment within this age group is stiff, here are five tips to make the over 50 job search a successful one:
1. Expand your skill set.
According to hiring managers, one of the top barriers to hiring mature workers is difficulty in learning or adapting to new technology. We now live in a fully digital world, and while you may have developed your career during the dawn of fax machines and computers, you have to make sure you are above proficient in your computer skills, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. To find a successful career over 50, consider taking courses at a community college on basic and intermediate computer skills to brush up or take your expertise to the next level.
2. Be realistic.
Your salary may have been high at your previous job, but it’s a completely different environment now and you may need to make some concessions when it comes to compensation. With a large amount of people looking for jobs, it’s important to keep in mind that in many sectors, it’s a buyer’s market for employers and there are many people who likely share your tenure/experience who are willing to take a pay cut for job security. When listing your salary requirements, always make it clear that you’re flexible so you don’t take yourself out of the running before the interview has even begun. Good employers will reward candidates with salaries commensurate with experience – giving the over 50 crowd a leg up!
3. Respect the new authority.
You may have once been the boss, but in a new role you may no longer be the decision-maker and you could very well be reporting into someone much younger than you. Hiring managers have noted that talent at both ends of the age spectrum have difficulty taking and receiving direction from someone vastly different in age. Don’t let their suspicions be proven right. While it may be an adjustment, it’s important to make it clear during the interview that you are willing to take direction from anyone in a position of authority, regardless of age. It will demonstrate you are a flexible candidate that doesn’t get hung up on numbers.
4. Strike a balance.
It’s important to sell yourself on your interview, but being too vocal about your abilities can be a turnoff to a hiring manager. Our survey revealed that one of the worst pitfalls mature workers make when interviewing is overconfidence in their skills. Your years of experience are an attractive thing to a company, but striking a balance between boasting and humility will give off a better impression.
5. Convey stability.
Hiring managers aren’t looking to take on employees that may only be there for the very short term, so pick your opportunities wisely. Decide if you’re looking for a new career for your over 50 life, or if you’re looking for something temporary. If you’re planning to work for only one or two years, then a less permanent position may be a good choice and you want to consider a temporary position that would allow you to use your skills in a new way but also provide both you and your employer with a commitment level that you’re comfortable with.
If you’re over the age of 50, you not have thought you’d be working well into the next decade of your life. Circumstances change, and the best you can do is to revise your plan and gear up for entering a different type of work environment. Ultimately, the goal of retirement will come one day, and you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your many years of labor.