What do you want to be when you grow up? Today, by choice or not, many older adults are asking themselves that question as they start over, seeking new jobs or even new careers. Looking for work can be daunting at any age, but for those 40 and older, the job search involves particular questions and anxieties. Who will want you when they could hire someone younger? Should you list all 20 years of experience on your e-résumé? What is an e-résumé, anyway?
When you are facing a career change, the first question to ask is: What do you want to do? Start out by listing your interests, identifying what you are good at and like to do. List your strengths and weaknesses. Take some free career tests to get an overview of your personality, aptitudes and interests, and look at your long-term career goals. Find out more information about the experience and education requirements for each career that interests you. You may need additional training or education to qualify for a new career. You also can try out a new career on a temporary or volunteer basis, to see if you actually enjoy the work.
Then, you'll need to polish your job-search tools. Professional career counselors can help you update your résumé and interview skills. They also can provide reassurance and see that you keep your search moving forward. If money for a coach is not in your budget, most communities offer government-funded career-counseling services. Ohio Means Jobs.com is a state-funded website that can help you write your résumé, explore careers and search for jobs. Job training and job search assistance also are available through your community One-Stop office. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a paid job training and work experience program for low-income adults age 55 and older.
Networking is the number-one way to look for work, since most job openings are not posted in the want ads. Make contacts with people in your target occupation or industry, ask questions and build relationships. While you are learning about your new career, you'll be able to market yourself to people in your target industry long before you apply for a job.
To land a new job in a new career, you may have to start lower down on the corporate ladder than you were before and work your way back up. Accepting a low-level job may be tough on your wallet and ego, and your co-workers may be several years younger, but the good news is you'll likely rise more quickly than your younger counterparts because you have more life experience.
As you look for a new job, don't stare at a computer all day. Get out of the house. Attend classes or cultural events. Maintain human contact. Find a way to get, or stay, in shape while spending time with other adults. Being fit makes a difference in how you interact with other people. It affects your attitude and the way you carry yourself. Update your hair, glasses and wardrobe. Don't pretend to be somebody else, but make yourself as attractive a candidate as possible.
We all want and need to pay the bills, support a family and save for old age. Many of us also want to be employed in jobs we like that are meaningful. Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to find work that you truly enjoy.
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