Even at the best of times older knowledge workers struggle to find decent jobs. Employers view younger workers as cheaper and, with something still to prove, think they more likely to work hard.
The fashionable digital natives idea says the people who grew up with the internet make better use of technology than the generation who designed it.
The idea is debatable. We’ll leave it for another time. In the meantime older knowledge workers can take these steps to get a new job:
Show where you add value
Employers pay older workers more than youngsters because they have better experience and skills. However, bosses may suspect those youngsters have more of the right kind of skills.
Your mission is to show otherwise. Make sure your CV or resume lists up-to-date skills and shows you understand modern technologies.
For example, if you’re a programmer ditch the references to Cobol in favour of current tools. Demonstrate your practical understanding of Web 2.0 and social media. If you haven’t done so already create a Linkedin profile and point to it from your CV. By all means print copies of your CV if recruiters ask for them, but have electronic versions and embed links to your Linkedin profile and other relevant sites.
It’s too late to start a blog if you’re looking for a job now, but getting one up and running today might help in six months time. Make sure it’s about something useful and doesn’t read like the rantings of a grumpy old man or woman.
Crank up your personal network
Face it. We’re not all born sales critters. If walking into a function and handing out scores of business cards makes you feel like an Amway tout, then don’t do it. People will smell the desperation and unease.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shake the contact tree. Over the years you will have worked with hundreds of other people who will know your strengths and talents. Some of these will have made through to the higher level. Others will be involved in hiring or can refer your name to people who are hiring. If it helps, don’t view it as networking, think of it as renewing old friendships. Get in touch, find out if they know of openings for your proven skills.
Use professional recruiters
You should at least let the professional recruiters know you are on the market. Many are good at finding work for more experienced and highly skilled people. They can do a good job of selling you to employers and give useful tips once you have an interview set up.
Some employers want grey hair
I was still in my 30s and dark-haired at the peak of the dotcom boom when I picked up a consulting job. At the time the person hiring me said “we need some grey hairs on board”. His rationale was having mature people who understood his business plays well with customers and investors. There are still employers who want mature workers.
Prepare for a long haul
Sorry, there’s no sugar-coating this pill. It takes older workers longer to find new jobs than younger workers. So be ready for the long haul. And remember, it just takes longer that’s not the same as saying it doesn’t happen.
Get started straight away
It takes older workers longer to find a new job so don’t hang around. Get organised the moment you hear talk of redundancies or lay-offs. Do not spend weeks having a well-earned rest, you may get a chance before starting in your new role.
Target employers where the management is older
My teenage daughters think people in their late twenties are ‘old’. People in their 20s and 30s think people in their late 40s are old. Younger managers are far less likely to hire people they consider old. Older managers will understand your worth and will consider your age a good cultural fit.