If you’re over 50 and are thinking about finding a new job or changing your career, you may have some apprehension. You may be worried about being seen as “overqualified” based on your years of experience or that you’re “not a good fit” if you worked in a different field. The good news is that you can overcome these perceptions. With a little diligence, you can leverage your experience while still showing you can compete in today’s market. Here are some things you could do to help make your career change easier and land a great job.

Expand Your Network

Networking is just important today as it always has been. The old adage — “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” — still rings true. The only difference is that now there are more online outlets. By actively expanding your network, both in-person and virtually, you will be able to meet people who could potentially offer you a job, or at the very least, advise you in your chosen field.

To expand your network, first start with everyone you know. Reach out to friends and colleagues to see if they know anyone who you may be able to meet. Then, you should use social media, including Facebook, and especially LinkedIn, to seek out professional contacts who could potentially help you. At the same time, you should also try to attend events such as job fairs or networking mixers to help you connect with new contacts. Be aware that in the post-pandemic world, many of these kinds of events have moved online for the time being.

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Update Your Resume

To make a big change in your career, you will likely need to update your resume in a big way. The first thing you can do is revise it to include only the last 10 to 12 years of experience. You can use the extra space to focus on recent achievements that could be more relevant for your next position.

With this in mind, you should revise your resume to play to your strengths. This is where you can really use your experience to give you a competitive edge over other applicants. To do so, try to include what you will be able to accomplish for your next employer based on the positive results you’ve achieved in the past. Potential employers are ultimately more focused on what you can bring to the table. You just need to show it.

You will also want to make sure your resume reflects that your skills are up to date and that you’re tech-savvy. Include links to your social media platforms and revise your skills as needed for the position you’re seeking. If you’ve had experience with certain software required for a position, change your resume to include the most updated programs and software. Alternatively, remove any programs that may seem antiquated or have fallen out of favor. For example, don’t include Word Perfect since most businesses today use Word.

Improve Your Skills

Improving your skills and knowledge base could make the difference if you’re seeking a position in a new field. You could attend conferences or take continuing education classes online to get up to speed or learn skills that may be useful or even required. You’ll also be able to add these skills to your resume. Talk to professionals currently working in the field to get a sense of what could be helpful to learn. Ultimately this kind of activity and engagement will let potential employers know you are serious about switching careers and not simply doing so on a whim. It will also show you are willing and able to learn new skills and stay current.

Address Being “Overqualified”

A big hurdle to overcome as an older job seeker is the notion that you may be “overqualified.” This can be code for several negative implications — that you would want too much in compensation; that you would feel certain work is beneath you; or that you’re too set in your ways to adapt to a new environment or different way of doing things.

It’s best to address any possible concerns head on. Tailor your resume to the position so that your experience better matches the new responsibilities. Use your cover letter or an interview to explain why you want to make this career change. If the salary is not a major concern for you, then you should convey that you’re willing to take a pay cut should the topic arise. Also let the prospective employer know that you’re capable and willing to learn any new skills you might need in this new role.

2 Comments

  1. Sue on August 3, 2018 at 12:26 am

    I am terrible at interviews I never seems to answer the questions correctly or find myself babbling. I am by nature shy and struggle to sell myself. What can I do to get comfortable during an interview

    • Jessica S. on September 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Sue,

      I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t get nervous before an important job interview. In fact, feeling stressed or anxious about an important interview is usually just a sign that you want to do well! Your interview anxiety can actually motivate you to be better prepared, but it can also keep you from doing your best. Here are some tips for dealing with pre-interview anxiety:

      1. Don’t “force” yourself to calm down – this can increase your stress. Sometimes it’s best to do some deep breathing before you go into your interview.
      2. Control what you can by preparing for the interview. You can’t always control what you will be asked or what will happen, but you can control how you prep! Research the organization, practice interview responses with a friend or family member, practice handshakes, and most importantly – practice telling powerful stories about your skills, etc. This one always helps me prep for something where I’m worried I may get nervous and forget what to say! Rehearsal works for the stage right?
      3. Remember that your interviewer is just a person! There’s no shame in telling your interviewer that you’re a bit nervous because you’re excited to have the opportunity to interview with them. Not only will they understand (because they’ve been there themselves), but it may help ease your discomfort. You’re just there to have a conversation, after all.
      4. Go on practice interviews. Sometimes it’s helpful to go on as many interview you can. By interviewing for a job that seems less important, you’re allowing yourself to get used to the process of interviewing. This can ease some of your nerves when that big interview finally comes.

      I hope these tips are helpful for you! Be sure to check out some of the other blogs on our site for more tips.

      Best luck!

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