Over 40 and Looking

A better approach to finding work for older job hunters

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Dr. Stephen Laser is a little apologetic as he identifies age, appearance, and attitude as the three perceived challenges that tend to work against job seekers over 40. While he acknowledges that it is against the law to discriminate against an applicant based on age, race, religion, and weight, as a business psychologist and managing director of his own personnel firm, he has found that “the three As” can impact a hiring manager’s decision during the interview stage—the most critical part of the process.

Whereas you might not be able to alter your age, Laser acknowledges that you can manage the other two. “Attitude is even more serious than appearance,” he offers. And what can sabotage an older worker is exhibiting their frustration with finding work. “If you’re out of work and over 40, in some cases you’re sending out hundreds of résumés and not getting a single response. So you get this coveted interview and you vent. The thing that gets most people disqualified from a job is talking too much,” explains Laser. “Because you haven’t had this opportunity, you just give an informational dump to the poor interviewer.”

Preparing yourself for the rigors of today’s job search, says Laser, will put you in a better frame of mind to “run the gauntlet.” Here are several strategies he recommends older workers should employ.

  • Expand your social media skills. It’s not enough to have set up social media accounts. You should learn how to maximize results on each platform. “These tools will be very important in your job search. There are a lot of community colleges and vocational schools that offer training.” You shouldn’t try and figure it out yourself, Laser insists. “Getting professional training will be worth your while.”
  • Make sure your résumé matches job requirements. To make it through the screening process, your résumé should reflect the specifics of the job posting. “Companies are looking for key words. If you’re applying for a job, apply directly to the ad as it is posted. Make sure the words in your résumé correspond to what they are calling for in the ad.”
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