7 Steps to Job Searching at 50

Many folks in their 50s may be struggling to reenter the workforce or are feeling stuck in a job that they hate. Does that sound like you? If so, here are seven steps that may open up opportunities to a new career.

First impressions

It is said that you never have a second chance to create a first impression. That first impression happens when you walk into the place you are interviewing. It starts with how you greet the receptionist, whether it be in person or on the phone. When working for MTI (Metro Training Institute) in Vancouver, BC, our receptionist had a call from a job seeker that was rude and impatient. He insisted on being put through to the director. The receptionist politely took a message. I later saw the message she wrote and then used it in my job search program of what not to do. It said how rude and disrespectful this man was. In the end, did the director call the man back? Of course not.

So how can you create a good first impression? By dressing professionally and greeting both reception and the interviewer(s) with a smile and a firm handshake. And go easy on the cologne or perfume – you don’t want people to smell you before you actually arrive!

Stress the advantages of being in your 50s

There are a lot of great reasons why you can be a valuable employee now that you are in your 50s. Stress the extensive experience you have, the flexibility now that your kids are grown up and the fact that you can be a mentor to others. Fifty-year-old’s bring wisdom from life experiences that can’t be taught and are a real benefit to companies and building teams.

Rob Crawford, Senior Human Resources Consultant says, “Companies are looking for people that are experienced and willing to stay on longer. Companies value flexibility–older workers may have the flexibility to work part-time rather than full-time.”

Target employers that value a little gray hair

“Even in careers, 50 is the new 40. There are organizations that value the experience and retired people as well.  Home Depot values seniors.  Walmart is another retailer that does this. They recognize the value in these individuals.” -Rob Crawford, Senior HR Consultant

Target companies that want to hire older workers. Canada’s Top 100 Employers publishes annually a report called, Top Employers for Canadians over 40.

From 2002 to 2013, the US AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), along with co-sponsor, the Society for Human Resource Management, ranked companies that value people and actively recruit over 50s in their Best Employers for Workers Over 50 awards. Although the AARP is no longer hosting this award, the information in these rankings can be invaluable. It provides lists of US companies that recognize the value in older workers and hire them. Why not contact some of these companies?

Avoid telling your whole life story

My family always accuses me of starting conversations with, “I was born in Kamloops.”  I admit I’m a talker, but when it comes to sending out your resume be selective and targeted with outlining your experience.  You may have heard the recommendation to go back 10-15 years on your resume for your Employment History. Sometimes you may have valuable experience dating back further than this but you don’t want to include specific dates, aging yourself.

Prior to 2002

A great trick to use in the Employment History Section of your resume is a subheading called: Prior to “Date”

This allows you to include relevant information that may be 20 years ago without having to list the actual dates.

Always cater your resume to the job you are applying for. Include only relevant experience and never include your age. A client of mine had his birth date in his email address ([email protected]). When I pointed out that it made it obvious he was 66, he quickly changed his email address.

Stay up-to-date with technology and current trends

Some of the stigmas that come with being an older candidate is the employer’s concern about your computer skills and internet know-how. Brush up on these skills with a course at your local college or community centre.

And make sure you can navigate social media. Develop a presence on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat.


Getting out there and networking will enable you to meet like-minded people and gain contacts that can help you find work. Many jobs are in the hidden job market—not advertised in traditional methods. Your network can help you access these jobs. Combining traditional networking such as attending special interest groups, meet-ups, school alumni events, professional association meetings and coffee with past colleagues and friends, with social media networking on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, will help build your community and ultimately assist in your success for finding the meaningful work you desire.

And finally…

Believe in yourself

Have you heard the saying “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right?”

Well, it really comes down to what’s going on in your head. Also known as the inner game, it can show up as self-doubt or inner voices saying that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, young enough—you get it. What we believe in ourselves is what will be portrayed to an employer. If you believe you have a lot to offer an employer, then this is exactly what will come across during that interview. If you think you are too old for the job, then that will come across too.

As we get older our confidence can wane. As a career coach that returned to school and started my own business at the age of 50 I can honestly say that there are days where I want to throw in the towel. Working with a coach has helped me stay focused, motivated and have the confidence to know that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. If you want a little help and encouragement reaching your career goal, hiring a coach is a great option. I took back my life, now take back yours!

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *