Why Your Job Search Strategy After Age 50 Isn’t Landing You Interviews

  • Job recruiters and hiring managers are one place, but what about others?
  • Leverage social media contacts, and places like LinkedIn are a great chance to find opportunities.
  • Virtual networking events offer the chance to introduce yourself to your industry and make new connections.

A lot of job opportunities never see the light of day. Sure, there might be the requirement to post about it somewhere, but the employer is probably hiring within and already has a candidate lined up.

And what about the 70% of jobs that are never posted unless you know where to look? Then there’s the fact that some companies use scanners and trackers to weed out 75% of applicants before a person actually sees them.

It’s no wonder it can be frustrating looking for work. Add in the fact that over the age of 50, and businesses either overlook you due to longevity issues or because your experience says you’re over qualified or will be expecting a salary larger than others just starting out.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted that a CBS affiliate was forced to compensate a broadcaster due to age discrimination.  Sadly, it happens time after time. Another discrimination case has been allowed to move forward based on a woman who was fired days before her 60th birthday.

So, what can you do when you’re in search of a job and all the cards seem to be stacked against you?

Here are some tips to help you not only find hidden job opportunities, but also things to keep in mind when applying them.

Where are these hidden job markets? Let’s take a closer look.

How to Find a Job in the Hidden Job Market

When you hear the word hidden, it almost sounds like some secret club, but it’s more about networking through channels you’re familiar with but may have overlooked.

  • Job recruiters and hiring managers are one place, but what about others?
  • Leverage social media contacts, and places like LinkedIn are a great chance to find opportunities.
  • Virtual networking events offer the chance to introduce yourself to your industry and make new connections.
  • Consider your personal network, along with your Alumni Association or professional organizations you belong to

Is your mind ticking with ideas? See, there are opportunities all over the place. It’s simply that the days of looking for jobs in newspaper classified ads are in the past, and even job boards which used to be strongly reliable are lacking a lot of the hidden opportunities. It’s in knowing where to look that gives you a leg up.

What else can you do? One thing is to consider taking another look at your resume. Maybe it’s time to dust it off and give it a modern refresh. What used to stand out in the past has changed over time. Between machine learning, shorter attention spans, and overstressed people, your resume needs to speak volumes to be heard.

Let’s look at ways you can update your resume, so it stands out. Another thing we’re going to do is age proof your resume, which means your age won’t be the first thing that stands out when somebody is glancing through your information. You want to present yourself as the total package, somebody who brings value and experience.

The standard resume where you simply list employment in reverse order is no longer the trend, and if you want to stand out in today’s market, you need to be aware of how small changes can have a big impact.

How to Write a Modern and Age Proof Resume to Stand Out and Get Hired

First, let’s look at ATS. What is ATS? ATS stands for applicant tracking system. It’s a computerized program that scans resumes. An ATS looks for different keywords, rejects applications based on certain criteria, and acts as a gatekeeper before somebody actually sees your resume.

It was created to save employers and recruiters time, but the problem with machine learning is sometimes they toss out a perfectly good candidate because of a data point or keyword is missing. Because large companies get such a massive volume of resumes, they do this to sift through the piles and make the process streamlined and easier.

Soft skills aren’t experienced qualifications based on a particular job, but rather the types of skills an individual has overall. Think of things like critical thinking, adaptability, time management, creativity, understanding how to fit into a work environment, teamwork, problem solving, and more.

Where does that leave you if you don’t have an expected keyword in your resume, because you wrote it for a human to read vs. a machine?

Hate to break it to you, but your application slipped through the cracks and never landed on the hiring manager’s desk. Talk about frustrating—and all because you didn’t adapt to current trends. ATS is here to stay. Most major companies use this. You can’t ignore it or wish it away. It’s time to adapt, my friend.

  • Highlight soft skills on your resume.
  • Write a results-driven resume in place of the traditional responsibilities resume
  • List accomplishments, results, and wins while highlighting your experience
  • List your educational background and training
  • Show why you’re the best candidate for the job by demonstrating your value

What are soft skills?

Soft skills aren’t experienced qualifications based on a particular job, but rather the types of skills an individual has overall. Think of things like critical thinking, adaptability, time management, creativity, understanding how to fit into a work environment, teamwork, problem solving, and more.

  • Critical thinking can also be thought of as problem solving. This is a skill that employers value, because you find solutions where others may not.
  • Time management says you know how to juggle multiple responsibilities while getting them accomplished on time. It shows you understand how to prioritize things as well.
  • Work environment and culture has become more important than ever. Being a team player and being able to work with multiple personalities is a skill that shows adaptability.
  • There are a lot of different soft skills. This is a short look at them but take time to do research and see what other soft skills are sought by employers to see if they’re a good fit for your cover letter, resume, or to mention during an interview.

Tips to Update Your Resume with a Modern Approach and What Should be Included

  • Write a two-sentence summary that highlights both your qualifications and skills. You’ll place this under your contact information. Each time you apply for a new position, you’ll only have to make changes here and adapt it to the company you’re applying to. Remember to keep it brief. If it’s longer, it will be glossed over and becomes invisible, rather than helpful.
  • Identify your career objectives. In other words, what is your career goal? This idea behind this is showing your potential employer that you have long-term goals for the position, and aren’t going to leave for another job, leaving them in the lurch. A company is looking for long-term investments in their employees. Retraining and searching for a replacement costs time and money, and they want to know you’re reliable and plan on sticking around.
  • Each time you apply for a job, take the time to revise your current resume to fit their needs. That’s why we pointed out the idea of a summary. When you tailor your resume to the position in question, you’ve got a better chance of highlighting your skills and fit.

How to Adapt Your Resume for Applicant Tracking Systems

Here are a couple of ways to fix your resume, while keeping the ATS in mind.

  • Keywords are vital. Be sure to put appropriate keywords, along with relevant similar terms. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing job, you’ll want to include phrases or terms like sales, advertising, and other words that show you’re qualified as the system seeks out those target words.
  • Simplify the layout and section headings. Use basic language like Education or Work Experience.
  • Clean, easy to read formatting is a must. Be consistent and keep it professional. Avoid using tables, as they aren’t handled well by the software that scans your resume.
  • Readability means keeping your resume formatted in regularly used file formats. That means using either .docx or a .pdf format. The more compatible with the ATS the better your chance of it getting through.

How to Write a Cover Letter that Stands Out

Here are some tips to help write a stronger cover letter:

  • A strong opening can hook the reader of your cover letter. Grab their attention early and don’t let go. While humor might work great in a novel, leave it out of your cover letter. This isn’t the place to get cute.
  • Quickly demonstrate or show a reason you’re not wasting their time. A result or accomplishment can enhance their interest. In return, they’ll continue seeing you as a fit for the position you’re applying for.
  • Don’t be too wordy. They are not looking for a thesis, but rather a quick glance at what you can offer. Be succinct, smart, and get to the point.
  • Be professional and write a custom letter for each job you apply for. Fit the position, don’t try to be one thing to everybody.
  • Show your value. What can you bring to the company? Don’t duplicate your resume, rather highlight your value.
  • Be sure to follow the instructions if there are specifics requested. Also, allow space for your personality without being unprofessional.
  • If you’re able to find the direct contact person, all the better.

What is an Informational Interview?

It’s a way to do an informal interview of somebody working in a field you’re interested in. It’s often recommended for new graduates coming out of University. Consider having an informational interview with somebody in the career position you’re hoping to find. Speak with them and learn more about the position, what it entails, and what skills might come in handy. Allow 20-30 minutes, and come prepared with smart, questions to help you make the most out of the time.

This helps you see the ins and outs of a job, make sure it’s what you think it is, and pick up tips that might help you during future interviews. These are great if it’s a new industry to you, or a position you haven’t worked in before. You may find that the dream job you had in mind isn’t everything you thought it was. You want to know what a typical day looks like and see if it’s a fit.

By contacting those you know first in your network, you may be able to find somebody, or they may be able to recommend another contact. A phone call or email explaining what you’re looking for in the interview is a good way to connect. Ask them if they could spare about 20-30 minutes to discuss their job with you.

Learning about the occupation, salary expectations, and changes they see in their job field can give you a better realistic look at setting your career goals. They might be able to recommend a class or software that’s commonly used in their industry, or even know of other details you hadn’t thought of. Are they happy with the work, and if possible, will they glance over your resume? Lastly, if somebody takes the time out of their day to help you, be sure to follow up with a proper thank-you note.

LinkedIn is a vital and vibrant component in the professional world. And you can be certain that potential employers will see what your profile says about you.

Let’s Talk about LinkedIn: Create a Strong LinkedIn Profile to Stand Out

LinkedIn is a vital and vibrant component in the professional world. And you can be certain that potential employers will see what your profile says about you. That means you want to create a strong presence that showcases you in the best professional light possible. This isn’t Facebook, so don’t treat it as a social hang-out, but rather as the professional networking site that it is.

How to optimize your LinkedIn profile:

  • When choosing your profile picture, be sure that you use a professional image. Hanging out with your friends in a group picture or goofing off isn’t the right image you want to be seen by your potential employer. We can’t stress enough that even though it’s considered a “social” website, you should think of LinkedIn as a “professional networking” site.
  • Neutral backgrounds are important, as well as a clear image of your face. We’re not getting fancy here or looking to win awards. The goal is to present yourself as a good candidate for the position you’re applying for.
  • Cover photos or background photos are another place to use common sense. A smart way to use this space is by focusing on something having to do with the industry you’re looking to work with, or with a basic, clean space. By using an industry related photo, it can be a good way to stand out to your potential employer.
  • Before writing your summary, think about what you want to say and how you want to be seen. Using the same voice and wording as your resume is a good choice, and while it’s okay to be personable, you don’t want to flash personality. Keep it business toned. It’s a good opportunity to speak of your career goals, or why you’re looking for change, or getting back into the work environment if you’ve been out of it for a while.
  • Keywords are just as important on LinkedIn as they are to other aspects of the web. LinkedIn is both search-friendly, and by using specific terminology, employers will be apt to notice your profile. Even words like specialized, experienced, or other words that speak of either soft skills or accomplishments like leadership can be helpful.
  • Get verified by taking a skills assessment test. By taking one of the LinkedIn skill assessments, you’ll be able to showcase your results and get a badge on your profile, which shows future employers your efficiency in certain areas. One of the neat things is that you can take the test as many times as you’d like, and you get to decide if you showcase the results or not.

Good Ways to Use LinkedIn

Your profile is an important way to define and present yourself in a professional light. There are also other things you can do on LinkedIn that can help you get noticed.

  • Engage with other people in your industry, interact, and network. The more active you are, the more chance your profile will be seen. A smart way to stay relevant is by commenting on, discussing, or engaging in professional conversations within your industry. This not only creates interactions and expands your network, but it also demonstrates to employers that you’re knowledgeable in the industry and can showcase your expertise.
  • Build relationships with recruiters. Networking is often easier on sites like LinkedIn, because you’re able to reach out and connect with people you wouldn’t cross paths with locally. By building these relationships virtually, you may come to mind when a position opens. Engaging, sharing, and networking with recruiters is a great way to become seen and remembered.
  • Consider joining groups that are relevant to your industry, which is another opportunity for you to meet more people in your career field of choice. Sometimes, it’s who you know that gets your foot in the door, and the more you interact with those in your industry, the more connections you’ll have created.
  • On that note if you are part of a group, always give value rather than indulge in self-promoting. Self-promotion doesn’t come across well, but value is always appreciated. Be the person that others look forward to hearing input from, not the one they avoid. Engaging with others helps keep your profile active. Nothing looks worse than a dusty profile nobody has visited in ages.
  • Don’t speak in shortened lingo like you might via texting. This is a professional environment. Use complete sentences and proper grammar. It matters, and people notice.

Job Search After 50: Words of Encouragement

Let’s face it, when it comes to changing careers or seeking a job, it can get intimidating. That goes for everybody. Don’t let your age hold you back, because you have a lot of value to offer. It’s in knowing your value and being able to demonstrate that value that you’ll find the most success. Communicating your skills is something that will draw you to the interview by having a solid resume, a smart cover letter, and by networking with those in your industry.

Yes, it takes time and effort. Looking for a new job can be a challenge at times, but by taking the steps listed you’re taking an active role in the process and will set yourself up for success. Believe in yourself, because you’re worth it.


  • Update your resume using a modern approach which includes using keywords, demonstrating results-drive experience, along with showcasing the value you’ll bring to their business.
  • Keep your cover letter concise, succinct, and smart while highlighting things that show why they should consider investigating you and your resume further.
  • Look at the “hidden job market” opportunities like an alumni association, through your network, or speaking with recruiters.
  • Consider doing informational interviews to learn more about your chosen career field. It can help you gather ideas about the day to day job, along with understanding what coursework, skills, or software you might want to brush up on.
  • Make sure you create a LinkedIn profile that showcases you in the best professional light. Also, be sure to interact and engage with others in your industry, especially recruiters who are smart to have in your network.
  • Lastly, remember that by investing time now, it will help you land your perfect job later.

Follow these job search tips and strategies and you will find a job after 50!

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Robert Moment

Robert Moment is The Get Hired Expert and Job Search Strategist who specializes in coaching ambitious professionals on how to find jobs, stand out and get hired making more money. Robert is the author of several books including , Get a Job Quickly After 50,  Job Search Confidence and Mental Health Coaching and Making a Career Change and Starting a New Job.

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