Unemployment isn't easy for anyone, regardless of their age. But unemployed men and women over 50 may find it especially difficult to find work.
Whether it's a byproduct of age-related discrimination or any of a host of additional variables, jobless older workers often struggle to find work. In a 2016 analysis of government figures, the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School estimated that the jobless rate for workers 55 and older in August of 2016, six years after the Great Recession, was nearly 9 percent. At the time, the national jobless rate hovered around 5 percent.
Unemployed men and women over 50 who are struggling to find work can consider the following strategies as they look to rejoin the workforce.
- Revisit your résumé. Unemployed men and women over 50 have no doubt updated their résumés to reflect their most recent professional experience. But they may need to trim some of the fat regarding their work life 10 or more years ago. Today's hiring managers may only be concerned with recent experience that illustrates skillsets that are relevant to today's jobs. Men and women over 50 may consider their experience from 20 years ago invaluable, but if that experience does not meet the specific needs of the jobs they're now seeking, then they should remove it from their résumés so hiring managers can quickly access the more relevant information from their work histories.
- Embrace 21st-century job hunting. Finding a job in the second decade of the 21st century is unlike job hunting in decades prior, and wholly different from how men and women over 50 looked for jobs upon beginning their professional lives. Networking can mean the difference between unemployment and landing a job. Go to job fairs attended by hiring managers and join professional organizations that host events where professionals in your field can gather.
- Turn your age into a positive. Men and women over 50 should accept the likelihood that their new managers and/or hiring managers will be younger than them. When interviewing for a job, men and women over 50 should make an effort to showcase their enthusiasm about working with and learning from younger colleagues, while also noting their desire to commit long-term to a company. Some hiring managers may surprise older applicants, viewing them as potentially more reliable than younger workers simply looking to gain some experience in a particular industry before moving on to the next opportunity.
- Make use of your existing downtime. Another strategy unemployed men and women over 50 can try as they look for work is to make better use of their existing downtime. Enrolling in online courses can give prospective employers the impression that applicants over 50 are both tech-savvy and willing to learn new things. Each of those things can help men and women over 50 overcome any unjustified, tech-related stigmas that hiring managers may attach to older job candidates.
Finding work after 50 is not always easy, and job seekers may need to adjust their approach before they can get back in the workforce.