Whether you’ve recently lost your job or you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, finding a job after 50 presents a unique range of challenges. You often must compete with younger workers who have an inherent understanding of technology, and you have to overcome a host of stereotypes about older workers. Fortunately, prospects are improving, and with career training and certification you can easily prove your sharp skills with technology and outshine any whippersnapper.
Thankfully, there’s some hopeful data for job hunters over 50. According to nextavenue.org, the unemployment rate for people 55 and older is lower than the overall rate, and workers in that age range are the fastest-growing portion of the workforce in the United States. The amount of time it takes those workers to find a job has dropped dramatically, but unfortunately, if you’re over 55, it still takes an average of seven to eight months to land a job.
Ultimately, age discrimination is still alive and well, but its not an insurmountable obstacle. With the right skills and training, you can overcome these common problems and stereotypes that older workers face.
As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous in business, organizations are looking for employees with built-in expertise. Younger workers often grow up using technology, so, accurate or not, companies often view them as more qualified to work with the hardware and software that keeps their organization running.
Make sure you keep your resume updated with the software that you’re familiar with, and don’t include software that might be outdated. Respond promptly to emails, phone calls, or text messages to show that you’re comfortable with modern communication, and connect with employers on social media like LinkedIn.
As you embark on the job hunt, you might need to update your skills. Nearly universal software like Microsoft Office have incredible hidden capabilities, and knowing how to fully utilize a program like Excel can give you a huge edge in your search. With career training, you can get the knowledge you need to pass exams, earn technology certifications, and prove your skillset to employers on your resume.
If you’ve been laid off, career training might not be your highest priority due to time and cost, but there are a number of funding options available to help unemployed adults gain training and transition into a new career. If your technological skills need a refresher, career training is worth the investment.
Older workers often face the stereotype that their mind and memory is not as sharp as younger workers. Employers might view their resumes with suspicion, especially if they have been out of the workforce for a significant amount of time. Skills stagnate, and organizations want sharp, up-to-date employees, especially as technology changes faster and faster.
As you list your certifications and training, make sure your knowledge is up-to-date. Many programs require that you re-certify occasionally. For example, CompTIA requires that their A+ certification be renewed every three years. This ensures that the certification accurately reflects the latest trends in technology, and that your skills are still sharp and ready to go. Even if you don’t need to re-certify, refresher courses can keep you ahead of the curve and on top of new features that many users may be unaware of.
Employers often view older workers as stuck in their ways or unwilling to learn. If you’re close to retirement, they might not trust you to be willing to learn new technologies and best practices.
Counter these stereotypes by staying up-to-date with your training and skillset. For example, if you already have experience working in project management, give your resume an edge with modern certifications such as Lean Six Sigma. Show that you’re not stagnant in your career, and that you’re willing to learn and adapt.
If you have to find a new job later in life, it might be a lengthy, difficult process, but it’s not impossible. Just ask Elizabeth Nguyen, one of our students who needed to find a job after more than 10 years as a stay-at-home mom.
Elizabeth had to be the breadwinner for her family, and she had to update her skills and find employment while handling family obligations. Eventually, she connected with New Horizons Career Development Solutions, and she took courses in Microsoft Office and the accounting software QuickBooks. With those certifications under her belt, she was able to secure a bookkeeping job and provide for her family.
Facing a career change later in life is challenging, but it can be an exciting opportunity, and there are resources to help. Over 1,000 employers have signed AARP’s pledge to promote equal opportunity for workers of all ages, and AARP has fantastic information and advice for keeping your resume updated and your interview skills sharp.
If you need to update your skills and certifications, New Horizons Career Development Solutions has your back. We offer training in the most in-demand technological skills and management best practices, and our instructors bring real experience in the workforce to their lesson. If you’re ready to set yourself apart and compete with a younger workforce, contact one of our career advisers and we’ll help you build a plan.