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50-plus job hunter? Here’s how to skill up for today’s economy

If you are working or looking for work over age 50, you are in good company.

More older Americans are working or looking for work than ever before. The unemployment rate for workers 55 and over is just 2.9% as of November 2018, compared to a significantly higher rate of 3.7% for all workers 16 and over according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Colorado, the picture is a bit behind the national average, with an overall unemployment rate of just 3.2% for those 55 and over.

But there remain challenges for the aging American workforce. The real question is why older workers aren’t turning in their employee badges for fly fishing gear at the first chance they get.

The truth is, we are staying in the workforce for longer than ever for a number of reasons, most notably to save for retirement. As fixed pensions become a thing of the past, 401(k)s mean that the longer an employee stays in the workforce, the longer they can grow their savings.

The longer you work, the more secure you’ll be.

Also, working keeps us young. Staying in the workforce for longer is associated with lower mortality, depression, and diabetes risk for both men and women in ordinary linear regression models, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Still, re-entering the workforce at age 50-plus can be intimidating, so it’s important to remember that age can give job hunters certain advantages. In a strained labor market, companies may actually be more inclined to hire experienced senior workers, rather than their younger counterparts. The key is to properly showcase your experience and your eagerness to learn new tricks.

Here’s how:

Regard your age as an asset.

You have more experience than the 20- or 30-something that may be applying. Period. And, when the rubber meets the road, an experienced worker is more likely to be effective immediately. When you think of your age as an asset, you can approach your job search with confidence rather than apprehension.

Play-up your people skills.

According to Forbes, top skills for today’s economy include: the ability to relate to others, the ability to trust others, knowing when and how to show empathy, active listening, and a genuine interest in others. The time you’ve spent working with diverse colleagues, for different supervisors, and with a range of clients over the years informs your soft skills, which matter a great deal to success in the workplace.

Be specific about your accomplishments.

Bolster your resume with specifics that describe your impact in previous roles. For example, describe your sales experience like so: “Top salesperson in the team for 3 years running” or “Boosted sales by over 25% in 2016.”

Yes, you really do need a LinkedIn profile.

Job searching in the modern world usually requires you to be, well, modern. Not only does a LinkedIn profile allow you to be searchable to prospective employers, it’s a great way to search for leads. When creating your profile and updating your resume, remember not to date yourself on paper by removing high school and college graduation dates. Instead, highlight your experience and community involvement.

Interview with confidence.

Be prepared with well-articulated examples of your experience problem-solving on-hand. Each time you are asked to “describe a time when” is an opportunity.

Maintain a positive attitude about technology.

Every office has a different sales/client database and a different internal/external communication platform. If you don’t have experience with a specific type of software, demonstrate that you are eager to learn. Often, employers will offer training on new skills.

Consider a certificate.

In addition to brushing up on your technology skills, consider earning a certificate in your field. Certificates are much less expensive than traditional learning, demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning, and could give you the cutting-edge.

The truth is, as the workforce changes, more and more older workers are going to be needed to meet the economy’s labor needs. The Denver South Economic Development Partnership is committed to helping both employers and perspective employees benefit from this shift, here in the south Denver region.

Want to learn more? Contact us today to learn more about what we can do to help.

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