I am 57 and I am beginning a new job search for the first time in 22 years. Any words of wisdom? Would you recommend hiding my age as much as I can?
– Monica A.
First of all, be wary of an exclusively online approach to your job search. There are bots that now check your age in your digital resume, even if you don’t put in your date of birth, and scan for information that reveal your age.
Additionally, sending out hundreds of CVs will likely get you nowhere after having been out of the job market for so long. The only and best way to get a new opportunity is through your personal contacts and the contacts of your contacts.
It is really important first to go back to what you were doing the years before you stopped working (outside the home). Tap into your key relationships of the last 22 years—whether purely personal, familial and/or professional. You must not go with head down seeking a position. Go with your head held high, your heart full, seeking to reconnect, to share stories, to rebuild and re-evolve old-time relationships.
Post Covid-19 pandemic losses, most long ago friends also want to reconnect. Organically the opening will come—maybe not initially, but soon you’ll be able to ask, Do you know anyone who might know someone who could guide me in choosing my new career direction or re-entry? But not as the main reason you are connecting. Be authentic – or why bother? Then your reclaimed colleagues and true friends will wholeheartedly want to connect you to who they know, who knows someone, who knows someone.
I know this works, and in my experience, experienced clients have had positions newly created to fit their assets vs. forcing them into an outdated job description.
If you are not able to reconnect with those you knew in your field many years ago, begin to make contact with folks through social media, such as LinkedIn. Make yourself open to informational interviews, and find as many ways as possible to discover more about your field in the year 2021. Maintain an updated profile to let people know some things about you and show what you have to offer.
Returning to school or taking part in a training course or program might be another avenue for updating and upleveling your skill set, as well as developing the relationships that will get you to your next step.
Write a resume based on your accomplishments and relevant cutting-edge skill set rather than your job history. This will avoid questions about your age and why there is a significant gap in your work history. And when you are invited to a job interview, remember that it is illegal to ask you how old you are.
I hesitate to advise anyone to hide their age, but in this current job market, we often need to do so. I strongly believe that wisdom born of experience is a thing to be proud of, but we still have many years before we will transform into a truly ageless society in which hiring managers recognize age as an asset and not a liability.