The experience that workers over 50 bring to the table can be very valuable for a company—but unfortunately, oftentimes recruiters or hiring managers are quick to dismiss older applicants without real reason to do so.
That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, though. If you’re over 50 and looking to start applying to new jobs, there are a few key ways to put yourself ahead and get noticed. Emphasizing your value is a good first step to getting a recruiter’s attention, but it can also help to proactively assuage some of the concerns they may have about recruiting older workers.
Below, we spoke to a handful of hiring managers and directors to get their top tips on exactly how applicants over 50 should approach the job search, initial interviews, and skeptical interviewers who may unintentionally be dismissive before hearing you out.
Highlight your career goals in your cover letter and resume objective statement
One concern about recruiting older workers, especially for entry level roles, is that they won’t have the same long-term potential in their role as a younger worker. According to Jon Hill, CEO and Chairman of The Energists, if you’re at or close to retirement age, it can help to emphasize your long-term aspirations so the recruiter knows you’re serious about landing a quality long-term role, not just looking for something to pass the time or get a bit of extra income during retirement.
Address the “overqualified” concern
“An experienced applicant applying for an entry-level role is almost always going to be overqualified for the position,” explains Hill. “This raises concerns that the person will get bored in their role or be unsatisfied with the lower salary it earns and demand more or move on.”
The best way to overcome this is to explain why you want this position, whether you’re looking to expand your skill-set, pivot careers, or simply want a more relaxed role for a better work/life balance.
Focus on the recent past, not your whole career
You don’t want to lie about your age, of course, but you don’t need to draw attention to it, either. According to Hill, generally speaking, things should “age off” of your resume after about 10-15 years.
“This is good advice for anyone who’s established in their field, but is especially important for workers over 50. Similarly, you don’t need to list your graduation date in your education section, especially if it was several decades ago.”
Sell your experience
What is one, often obvious, major difference between a job candidate that is in their 20s or 30s vs. one in the 50s? Experience. Nowadays, employers seem to value that more than ever—which is why it sometimes doesn’t even matter where your degree is from or if you even have one at all.
That said, according to Michael Furdock, Legal Clerk at Dolman Law Group, for job candidates over 50 to maximize their potential of obtaining a job, they should put a strong emphasis on their biggest asset that they bring to the table—and that is experience.
“They should carefully construct their resume highlighting the necessary experience they have that would best reflect the job position that they are applying for. They need to try and put themselves in the shoes of the employer and ask themselves, what type of person would I want to hire? With what type of experience? If you can articulate that in a smooth ‘pitch,’ in addition to what’s on ‘paper,’ it will likely be of great benefit to you.”
Focus on your relevant transferable skills
Bring attention to highly sought after skills such as organizational skills, communication skills, and sales skills.
“These skills are crucial for any entry-level position,” says Paul French, Managing Director at Intrinsic Search. “Show how you used these skills to meet the needs of the employer in your past positions and how you will use them in the current position.”
Show that you are tech-savvy
Tech savviness is no longer an option. Remember, you are competing against younger workers, many of whom have grown with the internet. French suggests having a section in your resume where you bring the spotlight to the most relevant tech skills you have for the job.
“At the bare minimum, you should demonstrate your proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and at least one other relevant software in the field you are applying. Avoid using antiquated technical terms and instead show that you are competent in modern technology, hardware, and software.”