I recently lost a job because a younger person was also applying while I was there. I am in my 60s—not that old, good looking, professional, with lots of experience. Is there anything I need to do to secure the job despite my age? I obviously made an impression to be called back for the second interview, but I didn't get the job. I'm losing my confidence!
Karen, don't lose your confidence! But you may need to put a bit more effort into your search. Here are some tips:
Look at specialized job sites. You'll probably feel more confident about applying for a position that was specifically advertised to older workers. Check out RetirementJobs.com, Seniors4Hire.org, or Jobs 4.0.
Refresh your skills. You may have plenty of experience and be very sharp, but if you haven't kept your skills fresh or your knowledge seems out of date, you'll hit some obstacles. Are you tech savvy, or do you need to brush up with continuing-education courses? Do you need to learn Spanish to stay competitive in your field? I interviewed Jon Zion, president of eastern operations for Robert Half International, for a recent story on how an older worker can get an interview. He said older workers are highly employable but can improve their chances by increasing their knowledge and flexibility. The more you know about computers, the more languages you speak, the more willing you are to move—the better your chances.
Show your g en Y savvy. List a younger person as one of your references—someone who can speak to your team-building skills and ability to manage (or be open to) younger people. Also, create a profile on LinkedIn and get comfortable with online social networks, while still tapping your local chamber of commerce and your many contacts. (Contacts are acquaintances you've met professionally or personally throughout the decades. You should be contacting each and every one of these people. Make a list. Be assertive—rather than aggressive—but make sure they know you're looking for a job in a particular industry and briefly note your qualifications. You never know whom they know).
Address the age issue. Candidness is the best policy when it comes to your gray hairs, according to Renee Rosenberg, a career coach with the Five O'Clock Club. Be frank about your age and experience in your interviews. Make bold and thoughtful statements, such as: "I've been in this industry a long time. Let me tell you how that can help you."
You might want to mention a recent survey by Sirota Survey Intelligence that found that "traditionalist" workers—those 63 and up—have some major advantages over other age groups. They tend to be more satisfied and proud of their work and of the company itself, more willing to go the extra mile, and more satisfied with their compensation. Older workers have had years to temper expectations and can actually be more resilient in a changing workplace, Sirota reports.
Consider a new industry. The healthcare field can hardly hire enough employees to meet demand. Maybe your skills are transferable to a hospital system or healthcare staffing firm, or you can invest some time in classes to become a nursing assistant—a good pick for an older worker, AARP reports.