The COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenging situation for those over 50 who find themselves in the labor market attempting to be hired for a position. With so many candidates vying for open positions, it is as important as ever, for those over 50, to run a savvy job search in order to be viewed as a compelling applicant.
If you are over 50 and find yourself scuffling in the COVID-19 labor market, you can take comfort in knowing you have already passed two hurdles. #1: You have not decided to sit out due to COVID-19 concerns or because you otherwise qualified for unemployment and have decided not to work and #2: You decided not to take the summer off and rather have tried to rejoin the workforce.
One of the first things you will find yourself facing is the question of how to best do a job search in a COVID-19 world? Especially when you are over 50 years-old and already facing several potential negative stereotypes. Here are some tips to consider:
• Don’t Obsess Over COVID-19: You don’t want to feed into any stereotype that older people are more concerned about COVID-19 or will be more difficult to manage during the pandemic. Follow the direction of the prospective employer, and don’t even bring up the virus unless it is in response to something presented by the interviewer.
• Don’t Bring Up Your Age: Let the Hiring Manager wonder about your actual age. So, don’t place a graduation date on your resume and you don’t have to place positions that go back a few decades. What you want is the decision maker to not even think about your age when considering your candidacy. The more you bring it up, the more likely it will be considered, and probably not in your favor.
• Be Flexible About Where You Work: Unfortunately, those over 50 sometimes are saddled with the reputation of being inflexible. A way to show the Hiring Manager that you will be low maintenance is your adaptability as to where you work. If newer hires are coming onto the worksite, then communicate that you are OK with doing so and vice versa if you are needed to work remotely. In other words, you want to display a low maintenance mindset for the Hiring Manager.
• Stress Technological Savviness: So much work has been revolutionized during this pandemic. Many positions that people previously thought had to be done in-person have now proven to be just as successful being completed remotely. What this means for you, the over-50 Job Seeker, is that you have to show that you are proficient using any technology given to you, whether a tablet, smartphone, etc. You also need to be comfortable working independently (remember IT is not down the hall when working remote) using technology and a variety of software. Stress, right in your Cover Letter, how savvy you are and list the relevant software you know in your Resume.
• Become Video Proficient: More than any other technology tool the use of video has boomed during this pandemic. You may not even physically see your Recruiter or Hiring Manager before being hired with everything possibly being handled by Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or whatever video tool the company uses. You should become comfortable with all of them, so you are ready to comply with whatever they use. Many companies are doing “Virtual Job Fairs” to connect with potential candidates without in-person direct contact. Be sure to have a professional designated space for any of your video conferences so you will not be disturbed. You also want to make sure your background is professional and appropriate for a business meeting, such as an interview. You also don’t want to make the false assumption that a video interview means a more casual environment. Unless told otherwise, dress professionally for the interview like it will be in-person (at least from the top up where the camera can see you).
• Be on Social Media: Recruiters will expect you, for most positions, to have a professional presence on social media. This will let them know how connected you are in the community and how you are generally regarded. Recruiters are also using social media to reach out to candidates and communicate with them. If you are not on, then you may be missing out. Go as far as noting your social media profile link on your resume, so the Hiring Manager can easily check you out.
While this summer has not been the ideal situation to find employment, there are positions available for qualified individuals. Unfortunately, being over 50 years-old always brings challenges in the job search environment, as this is especially true during this COVID-19 pandemic. There are, however, several items you can put in place to overcome the age hurdle and make yourself a preferred candidate.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: