Finding a Job After 50

5 tips on rehabbing your résumé to handle employment gaps, dates that reveal your age and more!

By The Women of Vibrant Nation

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Jobs for women over 50 are out there. But if over 50 looking for a work in today’s tough economy, you’re up against some unique challenges. As a midlife woman, you probably don’t lack qualifications and experience, but you may be returning to work after a long hiatus, competing against job seekers straight out of college, with freshly minted technical skills.

Or perhaps you’re making a late-in-life career shift, trying to win over hiring managers who are 20 or 30 years younger than you—and who may be skeptical about your ability to mesh with a work team the age of your adult children.

In today’s hyper competitive job market, hundreds of applications are submitted for almost every job opening. A winning cover letter and résumé need to do more than simply present your credentials and work history in a clear and comprehensive manner. You must craft a cover letter and résumé that can withstand scrutiny from employers who, rightly or wrongly, may be worried about specific issues with regard to your age.

Use the 5 tips below, gathered from across the Vibrant Nation community, to craft a winning cover letter and résumé—so you can land an interview and get the job you want.

1. How do I handle dates on my résumé that reveal my age?
This is a controversial question without a one-size-fits-all answer. If you research the topic online, you’ll find many experts who advise you to leave dates off. In fact, several Vibrant Nation members have reported being invited to more job interviews after they purged revealing dates from their résumés.

However, most Vibrant Nation members, including several career and human resources experts, advise against this approach. Warns Jan Cullinane, Vibrant Nation member and author of The New Retirement: Revised and Updated: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, “Leaving off dates is a big red flag for most employers nowadays. They know you are trying to hide your age. Making the assumption that the potential employer won’t want to hire someone who isn’t in his/her 20s could backfire on you; you may make an employer think you really are too old for the position.”

VN member Mary Harvey, a professional recruiter and staffing firm owner, agrees: “I can’t stress strongly enough how the only answer for what to put on a résumé is be honest and thorough. We see red flags when information is missing, not when it’s there. If you leave off customary information (dates worked at a particular job, dates degrees were received), we start to wonder what you’re trying to hide.”

If you’re still concerned about possible age bias, consider drafting a résumé that doesn’t hide your age, but de-emphasizes it. “Most employers only look at a résumé for about 60-90 seconds before making a decision,” says Jan Cullinane. “So, put the work experience that best fits the job first. List your up-to-date skills. You can include your graduation date, but put it at the end.”

2. Should I “dumb down” my résumé so I don’t appear overqualified?
When one Vibrant Nation member recently relocated, she wondered whether her long and rich work background made her overqualified for the job openings available in her new town.

VN member and professional recruiter Cori Swidorsky, offered this advice: “Think of your résumé as a marketing tool to get you an interview. Instead of ‘dumbing it down,’ draft a version of it that is carefully targeted toward the job you want. Make sure your résumé reflects your experience as it specifically relates to that position. Don’t include every detail of your work experience. In fact, it may be more beneficial to highlight key skills that relate to the job.”

Book cover for Jobs for Women Over 50For more tips, download the FREE report Jobs for Women Over 50: 5 Keys to Find Work You Love Now. Learn what to wear to the interview, the best careers for women over 50, how to use social media to network professionally, and more!

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Your Comments (13)

I can't find a job. I keep running into, not enough experience to too much experience to too old. I'm out of money, out of time and can't even get help. I've always believed God would provide. I'm not so sure anymore. I had no heat this past winter. It's looking like I will have no air conitioning to counter 100f temps. I eat once a day. My car broke down so I have no transportation and there is no public transit here nor taxis. I've prayed and prayed. I've waited and listened.
If God is for me, where is he. I've been holding in hope since 2008. I've been told its because I'm not right with God. I don't think that's true. Was Job not right with God?
Where is His promise? Where is His abundance? I am not asking for millions. I'm asking for food, shelter and cloths. Basic things to survive. I've lost my business, my home, and my family in a hurricane. I've been without ever since. Where are you God? I need you now not tomorrow, today. You can change this situation so that I am safe.

Hello IBWOTL. I hope you'll consider also posting your prayer request at OurPrayer.org, where a Guideposts staffer or volunteer will be pleased to raised up your concerns in prayer.

I am a 57 yr old white female, high school graduate, and have some Technical schooling (graduated in 1975 with a Degree in Dental Assisting). I am employed part-time as a "Rehab Tech", aka Domestic Goddess for a Physical Therapy clinic. I have applied for over 250 jobs, in the last 2 or so yrs, with no luck. I have always had a full-time job, but in 2005, my mother had a stroke and I became her Primary Care Giver. I explain the gap in employment if and WHEN I get an interview, but like someone else mentioned in this section, I am not drop dead gorgeous, I am old, and slightly overweight. I must admit though, I do not look my age. Most of my skills are in the Medical/Dental Insurance Industry, but with this current job I have now, I am not allowed to utilize my skills. All I do is dishes, take out the garbage,wash and fold the laundry. I HAVE much more to offer than this. I have pretty much given up on finding my "perfect job". I have lost my faith in God.

Maradee,

I have been a recruiter for many years and when I need a new job I ask the goog Lord to show me where He needs me next. I work for Him.
Never Give Up! and repeat to yourself this to yourself every day.

Resume styles change yearly. Here are some tips and examples for some professions.
http://xmas.frogheaven.org/docs

Simply emailing your resume is not the way to land a job.

70% Success Rate: Join a job support group to get you going and to sustain your momentum. This is so crucial. You are not alone out there. Don't miss an opportunity to network. My hairstylist and Doctor have referred many great candidates to me who have been hired. I heard about someone who told their Doctor they needed work, they had a job the next day. Join your alumni! Network & use connections at your church. Keep seeking new ways to market yourself. You never know who knows who. A job club in San Jose. CA is Csix.org and these clubs are successful. Find one or two in your area and join them both.

47% Success Rate: Knocking on the door of any employer or office that interests you whether they have known openings or not. Your local chamber of commerce has wonderful free information on companies. Use the web, and library (ask the reference librarian for materials) to get ideas on
companies you ought to target. Lastly some Rotary clubs are helping people land jobs. Ask your friends at Church leads.

54% Success Rate: Cold calling 50 to 100 companies and giving your 30 second pitch. The more you do this one the better you become and the success rate soars. Use linkedin.com.

33% Success Rate: Asking people in your network for job leads. Use linkedin.com.

10% Success Rate: Plus: Asking a current employee of a company you want to work for…to submit your resume for you.

1% to 2% Success Rate: Applying to a company directly. Using linkedin.com to try to find the hiring manager and calling the manager & emailing your resume directly results in a 23% success rate.

Get out of the house. Knock on doors. Do research online or at the library about the places you'd like to work. Meetup.com is a great place to meet hiring managers, they have free meetings on all types of topics and many are professional type meetings.

Be willing to look at different kinds of jobs: full-time, part-time, short term contracts, temporary jobs etc. Consider these jobs as a bridge, very often they become a career launch pad. Go to a temp agency in person, get to know a recruiter there and cal this person weekly.

Try not to be wearied by rejection. The more no’s you get out of the way, the closer you are to a yes.

Remember job hunting can be very stressful. Avoid listening to negative people as this can derail you and put you into a funk. Try to avoid job hunting burn out. Schedule time for your self to relax, have fun and exercise. Don’t spend all day in front of your computer. Try to avoid listening/reading about the news. Exercise is important.Network with other fellow job seekers. Share job hunting ideas and trail and tribulations. Never stop telling yourself that these tough times will not last forever. You only need one job and not a dozen.

I have heard many people tell me that they never heard about the results of an interview. If you have interviewed and you have not been called or e-mailed with the results then call the company (perhaps they were not certain that you are interested in the job). If you were contender for a job and you didn't get it...ask the recruiter or hiring manager for honest feedback
that could help you in the next job opportunity.

Pray and thank the good Lord for everything even your job hunt. You will land a job and then you can help someone else land a job too. It is all about helping each other. Never Give Up!

I also listen to the podcasts of the radio job coach Marty Nemko http://www.martynemko.com/radio-show. He is inspiring. His articles are very good too. www.martynemko.com.

Linkedin has become the number one place that recruiters search for candidates. I use the corporate recruiter version of Linkedin that allows me to search through 135 million users. I make a lot of hires from Linkedin.

Linkedin is also a top place to post job openings.

I also use the Linkedin groups to find candidates.

You will land a job!

Best,
Noelle

This article is a GOD send. My husband and I are moving back home and I am in the process of seeking employment. I am fortunate to belong to the local chapter of a professional organization where we currently live. Through them I was able to have my resume redone for free.

I turned 60 last year and I have absolutely no issue with my age but being a Human Resources professional I am more than aware of the age discrimination that continues to go on.

Due to economic conditions that none of us expected to go through I find myself in continuing to work when we return home. I have no doubt that I will find work in my field. I am happy to announce that I have had at least 10 plus phone interviews for positions. My attitude is that for every NO it puts me closer to my YES. And I also believe the scripture that GOD opens doors that man cannot open and when HE closes them there is something much better ahead.

This article as I mention is a GOD send.

Guidepost keep on blessing us through HIS guidance.

All very interesting comments. It seems we still have a long way to go...

The following book is very helpful. If it is not at your library, it is available at Amazon.

"What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here! 44 Insider Secrets & Tips That Will Get You Hired". The author's name is Cynthia Shapiro. EXCELLENT book! Even if you borrow it from your library, read the reviews online at Amazon from people who've read it.

"Keep calm and carry on" & God Bless!

Thank you for all of the comments. By mutual decision, I stayed home for the past 21 years to raise our children. Two are still in High School. My husband now is asking me when am I going to "start contributing to the family since I have not worked in 20 years". How insulting is that! Why do men think raising children is the same as doing nothing. It is a 24/7 job. I am 54 and have started a medical and billing coding class but there is no guarantee of a job. I will do what I can but as mentioned above younger people are more current on technology. Every morning I pray to God to lead me on the path that he wants me to take and I will go wherever he wants me to go,even if it is something that I don't want to do. He has a plan for me, I just don't know what it is yet.

Hi Sherry,

Men can be very insensitive by nature. Did he think that Nanny McPhee was in charge of your children's upbringing for all of the 20 years that you didn't 'work'. FHI (for his information)a stay at home mum's job is equivalent to having 2 full time jobs...both of which you don't get paid for but from which everyone (including he) benefits.

Calculate how much it would cost on child care services if you had decided to 'contribute to the family' and show it to your hubby. Men understand numbers while being clueless on all matters that require common sense.

Tell him how your entire family is better for having you at home.

I myself have been a stay at home mum to my 10 year old son. I don't regret it for one nano secon and I'm sure you don't too.

I agree with those that say to trust God. If we have faith and take positive steps towards the work that we want to do, then an energy is engaged which then continues to move us forward toward our goal--or something better. One of my expressions is "God can't steer a parked car." We have to end the inertia and move forward. The Quakers put it this way, "Pray but move your feet."

At the end of the article, the author mentions hiring a consultant to write a resume. A friend of mine almost got cheated by one of these consultants. She escaped only because she had made a mistake writing the check and that bought her time for her son to help her out of the scam. Be really careful about resume consultants.

I agree wholeheartedly with some of the comments submitted by Susan LaBrie about women over fifty years of age looking for suitable employment. I live in a city of over 300,000 population and I think the situation in Western Canada is not basically any different than that of USA. I retired from a 30-year Clerk 3 government job five years ago after having looked after my ailing mother for quite a number of years and of course helping my children and grandchildren at the same time and being divorced for twenty-four years. After several months of collecting my pensions at what I thought was to be the same amount as what I was paid while working I learned it was somewhat less. Since then I have been trying to find employment to supplement my pensions with no success. I have applied for plenty of jobs and have never had any replies. I have lowered my expectations quite substantially and am at the position where I don't think I will ever find any job. I applied at a food service to cut up vegetables and when I was asked if I had any experience cutting up vegetables I replied that I have cut up vegetables for many years for my family and they told me that was not the experience they were looking for. I applied at a hotel making beds and cleaning rooms and was asked if I had previous experience and I said I had been making beds and cleaning rooms for most of my life at home and was told that was not experience. Living & household expenses have gone up considerably in the past 5 years and I have found that if you are female and looking for a job you must be under 30 years of age, good looking, good figure otherwise you are out of luck.

I am a woman over 60 who just completed a course, on line, to become a certified technician in an interesting field. An externship has been provided by the school. This is a new area of interest for me and I was told there is a large demand for people entering the field. The school, a very reputable one, had just placed a 70 year old woman in a job the previous week. The person I spoke with about the externship position did not seem concerned about my age and was very pleased to be getting some extra help. If an older woman has some technical(math or science) proclivity there are opportunities for placement after completing updates in a technical field or after completing a new line of study. God can lead us to the place he would have us work if we ask him where he wants us to be.

While this information is helpful and motivational, I would like to see the real statistics of successful female candidates over fifty that were hired for the position they sought and were actually given the salary and benefits promised to them upon hiring. I live in the largest city in New Hampshire. I have a varied background in media and extensive volunteer experience in the public and private sector. I also have self-employment experience. Because I did not follow the male model of career building, I have had no success in landing any worthwhile position to which I have interviewed and applied.Age, sex, and weight discrimination are still rampant in my profession and to gloss over that fact is a disservice to any woman seeking to return to employment. The situation is far worse in rural Maine. A woman of my long standing acquaintance had a successful twenty-five year career in real estate terminated by the housing market collapse and has accepted a minimum wage job in the grocery store of her hometown because she fears losing her own home to foreclosure. Must be nice living in your world! I am eternally grateful to God for the blessing of Social Security, subsidized housing,food stamps, and Medicare-Medicaid,for I would be forced to be homeless while working two jobs as I was when I became divorced twelve years ago. In case you are wondering, this is happening in our country at an alarming rate. I just wanted to give you a different perspective on the economic situation that is occurring in our country because of competition,corporate greed, and the profits before people mentality that will undermine our country's economic infrastructure in the near future. I trust that God will manifest his divine solution.