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Countering the 8 most common job search issues for Gen X and Baby Boomer job seekers (my top tips for fighting ageism)


I talk with Gen X and Baby Boomer job seekers everyday and there are some common issues that I hear about all of the time. Let's face it: ageism is real, so you need to have strategies to counter it as part of your job search.


Here’s my advice in countering these job search problems:

 

Problem 1: I can’t land an interview


If you aren’t landing interviews, you need to answer 4 questions:


1. Are your career goals realistic?

You don't want to be “underqualified.”

You also don't want to be “overqualified.”

Consider the state of your industry/role/field.

How many open roles are you seeing?

Do you need to change your goals?

 

2. Is your resume aligned with your career goals?

Your resume needs to clearly show you are a fit

Triple-check for typos or other resume issues

You don't need a fancy format: just the facts

 

3. Are you leveraging your in-person/online network?

Reach out to the right people (decision-makers)

Talk with people in-person and online

Build reciprocal relationships

 

4. Is your LinkedIn profile completely filled out?

Optimize your profile so that opportunities find you

Complete your Experience and About sections

Add 50 skills (and align them with target roles)

Make sure your Headline is clear

Help recruiters find you!!!

You need to revisit what you career goals are how your resume, LinkedIn profile, and networking strategies are matching up with that career goal.


Problem 2: Coming back from a career break


62% of Americans have had a career break

The reasons range from:

* recovering from an illness

* traveling the world for fun

* looking for new work after a layoff

* caring for young children/loved one

* helping children through remote learning

* recovering from a toxic work environment

... and everything in-between.

 

Often, folks aren't sure how to talk about it.

What's worked for me (and my clients):

Adding a career note to your resume.

 

Examples:

 

Career Note: Served as primary caregiver for 3 children from 2010-2020. Highlights include serving as PTA Secretary for Edison Elementary School, raising $25,000 as key leader in school fundraising efforts.

 

Career Note: Completed PMP coursework and volunteered for North Hills Community Food Bank in 2022.

 

Career Note: Served as youth softball coach and completed numerous online courses in 2022.

 

Whether your career break was your choice or not, you can spin it in a way that shows that you made the most of the situation (and framing it this way will definitely help in interviews).

 


 

Problem 3: How do you come back from “underemployment” or a “career step-back”


You were laid-off from a great job with a big name firm.

You took an "in-between" job or two to pay the bills.

Now, you are afraid of looking like a job hopper.

You would like to get back to where you were.

You feel like you took a "step back."

I've talked with several folks in this spot recently.

Here's what to do:

 

1. Emphasize experience that pertains to your goal

Highlight your track record prior to the layoff in your summary

Quantify results throughout your resume/LinkedIn

 

2. Be clear in your interview

You needed to pay the bills after the layoff, so you took "in-between" jobs

Share what you learned and how you can use this experience in your new role

 

3. Stay positive

This is the hardest part

You can't control layoffs and bad luck

You can try to maintain a positive attitude throughout these tough times

 


 

Problem 4: You’re “overqualified”

I really hate the term – but here are 3 ways to counter being called “overqualified”:

 

1. Lean into your expertise

You want to demonstrate how you can step in and quickly make a difference.

How can you solve the company's pressing issues?

How have you delivered results in the past?

Here's what to say:

"Yes, I have been doing this work for many years and I can quickly step in and deliver results. For example, when I worked for XYZ Corp, I increased sales by 50% in 18 months through  building awareness via social media."

 

2. Acknowledge if you are looking to step back

Some of my clients have been in leadership roles, but are looking to move back into an individual contributor role

Here's what to say:

"I've succeeded in individual contributor roles throughout my career. I understand that XYZ Corp is looking to expand into the direct-to-consumer marketplace. Let me tell you how I have done that work in the past."

 

3. Counter the "you'll be bored" argument

How can you really be bored at work if you are contributing to the

bottom-line?

That's right - you won't be.

Here's what to say:

"That's interesting that you would say that. I've never been bored in roles where I am contributing to the growth of a company. I know that XYZ Corp is looking to grow its online presence - here's how I can help."

 

Problem 5: Salary is too low


Make sure that you are applying for the right roles

•        Revisit salary expectations

•        Things aren’t where they were in 2021

•        Do some salary benchmarking

•        Salary.com, Glassdoor

 

Problem 6: How do I find part-time work?


•        I love FlexJobs for part-time roles

•        Consider freelancing

•        Position yourself as a thought leader

•        Use LinkedIn

•        Use HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

 

Problem 7: How do I find remote work?


•        The number of remote roles is declining

•        Spell out how you have succeeded in remote roles in the past

•        Build trust throughout the process

•        Look for roles in the right places

•        FlexJobs, Upwork, Media Bistro

 

Problem 8: How do I make a career change?


If you're looking to change careers, one quick job search hack is to filter job postings and look for those that consider "transferable skills" - this will give you an idea of companies that are actively accepting career changers.

 

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