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Dos and Don'ts for Mature Job Seekers

Dos and Don'ts for Mature Job Seekers

The laws of supply and demand have created an employer's market when it comes to obtaining top talent at affordable prices. In many cases, younger candidates, who grew up in the technology age and who cost less than more mature workers, price older workers out of the market. As a result, more mature workers are facing a "Gray Ceiling." So what can mature workers do to combat these realities and prove their value so that they land the job? Job-advice guru Marissa Marsala, who writes the blog "Career Advice: Getting/Keeping a Job," offers some Dos and Don'ts:

Dos:

Post a professional-looking black and white photo on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites rather than a color photo. If you have a casual photo on Facebook or a similar social networking site, be sure that the photo shows the youthful, energetic side of you.

Keep up with technology. There are many free tutorials about social networking as it relates to business that can be found online. In addition, there are numerous companies that sponsor free live webcasts, case studies and white papers.

"Test Drive" social networking on a personal level. If you have not already done so, dabble in social networking by joining both personal and professional business sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This will allow you to more knowledgably participate in related conversations during the interviewing process. Once you have created your online presence, you can ramp up your skills in this arena and apply what you've learned. Moreover, social networking sites expand your access to job postings and allow you to network with a myriad of people. Joining groups on sites such as LinkedIn can exponentially increase your chances of uncovering hidden jobs.

If you are currently unemployed, or know your current position will soon be eliminated, volunteer for an organization you believe in and for which you can leverage the experience. This will put much-needed structure in your day, keep you feeling vital, provide new networking contacts, give you additional content for periods of unemployment, and help you get recommendations or even connect you with a job as you are making an impression on others.

Try to find a job that is a good fit. There is a temptation to "settle" and apply for any jobs which reasonably utilize your skills, but workers should be true to their passions and be as selective as possible while still remaining flexible. This may seem like a contradiction, but consider this: you will be better able to sell your years of experience and will come across far more passionately if you are excited about a job.

Summarize the industries you have experience in on the top third of your resume. Recruiters and employers want to know as quickly as possible if you have experience in the industries that they are recruiting for, in addition to whether you have the right mix of core competencies (skills, knowledge and experience).

Keep job summaries focused on who you are and what you can do for an employer. Career objectives are considered passé. Employers want to know immediately what you can do for them and what's in it for them to hire you.

Take excerpts of your best recommendations and paste them into a document for prospective employers to review at an appropriate time. (Marissa notes that she is seeing more and more mature job seekers submitting recommendation documents along with their resume.) Look at key emails you have received over the years acknowledging your efforts on key initiatives, and capture those on a similar document, as well.

Keep resumes fewer than three pages (ideally two!). Two pages is considered ideal, especially given that most individuals reviewing resumes spend approximately 15 seconds reviewing a resume before they decide whether they will delve more deeply or set your resume aside.

Consult sites targeted for "mature workers." Visit www.aarp.org regularly for tips on how to get the competitive edge and identify the most "friendly" companies and job sites for more mature workers. A very content-specific site targeted at mature job seekers is www.internsover40.com.

Build up your network on LinkedIn. If you are in sales, public relations or other functions for which a large book of contacts is key, you can leverage your contacts to prospective employers. Older workers may have an advantage over younger workers in this regard, as they have lived a longer life and this may manifest itself through a more extensive "Rolodex".

Don't:

Create career document file names by including words like "updated," "new version," etc. Keep document names general, simple and professional, and do not let on that you have other versions. Include your name and a month and year. For example, MarissaMarsala_resume_122009.

Include more than 15 years of prior experience unless it is relevant. Most candidates only include the last 10 years, as experience beyond this period seems dated and irrelevant. In addition, reference checking is that much more difficult the further one goes back. Only include experience beyond this period if it is highly relevant. Do so under a category heading such as "Other Relevant Experience." Omit dates and, instead, simply document what you achieved during this period.

Include dates from college or universities. Some career coaches also recommend removing all dates associated with job tenure. But omitting this information does not come across as forthcoming, and the absence of this information may raise suspicion and questions causing people in hiring capacities to simply pass, rather than take the time to investigate.

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