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Tips for finding a job after 50

July 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Unexpected layoffs and shrinking retirement funds have more older Americans on the hunt for a job. About 1.6 million unemployed Americans are 55 or older, and many are struggling to compete with younger applicants. Getting back to work is possible if you turn your age into an advantage.

Everything from changing your resume and applying for jobs at companies that aren't hiring could make a difference. Age shouldn't make a difference in getting a job or not.

Jackie Barton, 52, has 20 years of marketing experience and an MBA, but she's out of work.

"One place I applied for a job, they had 2,000 applications for one management position," said Barton.

In the past six months, the laid-off business consultant sent out 300 resumes, attended two-dozen networking events and took computer classes.

"I had to figure out how to do Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn," said Barton.

The unemployment rate for baby boomers jumped from 3.2 to 5.6 percent this year. Older workers are typically out of work longer and face steeper drops in pay when they land a job.

"It seems older workers or that middle-age range feel a little more threatened," said career coach Barbara Seifert, Ph.D.

Career coaches say get rid of graduation dates on resumes and apply to companies that aren't hiring. Many don't post openings because they don't want to be bombarded with unqualified candidates. You also want to quantify your skills.

"It's not just enough to know that you've got skills. It's how did you use those skills and what did you do for the employer?" said Seifert.

Tell anyone who listens about your search.

"Have a networking card. You know, it's like a business card, but it's got your basic information on it," said Seifert.

Jackie's adds volunteering to her to-do list.

"I've had several people that I've volunteered for that said when our budget opens up, I'm going to hire you," said Barton.

She's determined to find a job and refusing to be defined by a number.

Career coaches recommend targeting fields that welcome older workers like healthcare, education and government.

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