Words to the Wise

January 16, 2019

Advanced Professional: “Applicants ‘50 and Over’ Need Apply” – January 17, 2019

Hitting 50.

The golden milestone. But tellingly, for many job seekers in the 50 and over age group, very few openings seem to glitter with opportunity. Circumstances naturally vary, yet it has become increasingly common for highly qualified and well-established professionals to find themselves back at square one. For workers in this demographic, an unexpected layoff or change in corporate structure hits harder, often leaving the affected without a predictable timeframe for recovery.

Even for those who do make it back, the compensation upon their return can be a shadow of its former self.

An AARP report from 2017, as cited in a recent article posted on cnbc.com, revealed that wages and hireability stalls once you reach the half-century mark. Perhaps even more disconcerting, an accompanying statistic in the piece pinned the over-55 unemployment rate at 8.6 percent—a figure that translates into 3.5 million people who are available to work full-time, but aren’t.

Lots of shame in that game.

Still, there’s no sugar-coating it. The climb back, or the desire to simply advance up the pay scale after 50, is going to be tough sledding, generally speaking. That said, for those who find themselves up against it, hope isn’t lost. In fact, we believe it can be found through some refreshing perspectives and approaches to building job-winning resumes.  Here are a few choice places to begin:

  • Experience counts, but it can, and will, count against you. Leading with big numbers, in terms of “decades” or “over 25 years” of experience can lead to diminishing returns. Monster.com has suggested that it is best to omit college graduation dates since they can tip-off employment algorithms used to screen out candidates on the basis of age. It also stands to reason to focus primarily on what you’ve done over the last ten to fifteen years, rather than digging back into the ‘90s.
  • Don’t fall for the functional resume trap. Industry recruiters and insiders generally agree that non-chronological resumes come across as attempts to conceal less-than-flattering work histories. On top of that, for the most part, they seldom score well in applicant tracking systems that look for logical structure and progressive track records of achievement. If you’ve got a long, distinguished career, feel free to include defining moments from the past—only group them in an early career section—sans the dates.
  • Discover the missing “link” on LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, time’s a wasting. Reliable numbers from Forbes.com suggest that, among recruiters using social tools, 94% employ the platform to discover and hire talent. We’re talking more than 15 million jobs posted on that site alone! A well-written and formatted LinkedIn profile can work a lot of magic—highlighting your transferable career skills, drawing attention to promotions or volunteer work, and calling out the kinds of jobs you want in precise detail.
  • Keywords remain “king” of the mountain. To make your resume rise to the top of the stack, keywords are the fuel you’ll need to get there. By incorporating keywords from the job description in your resume, you’ll make it more discoverable by search engines and ATS software. Subsequently, when you match those terms up with what appears on your LinkedIn profile (in 120 characters or less), you’ll gain a foothold to stand out in the world of social media.

    Note: A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 77% of employers are using social networks to recruit—a sharp increase from the 56 percent who reported doing so in 2011.

  • Get back to what you do best. Staying active within your profession, even when not actively working in a salaried position, is essential toward maintaining your viability. Investing some downtime to take an online class or two can earn you impressive talking points for reference on your resume, as well as certification badges you can drop into your social media profiles. It also keeps you current with the latest buzzwords and up-to-date on knowledge of your industry.

Through 2016, analysis conducted by ProPublica and the Urban Institute, found that only one in 10 workers over 50 who were laid off or lost their job regained compensation equal to or greater than what they had before their setbacks.

Yet, here at Resume Professors, we believe that every setback is just a setup for the next step. The notion that older workers become less valuable as they age is just one of the misconceptions that can be corrected by an artfully written, historically accurate, graphically appealing, and keyword-rich resume.

Apply today.

Experience preferred.

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