Failing to Embrace Your Inner Geek
As a Gen Xer, I didn't grow up making videos and blogging about my every burp and hiccup. I'm actually one of the biggest Luddites I know. But like many of my tech-challenged peers, I've learned that blogging about my field and using the micro-blog Twitter are simple ways to get noticed by potential employers (how do you think I got this gig?).
As long as you act like yourself and don't show up squeezed into your kids' clothes, no one will accuse of you being a 20-something wannabe. Instead, people will be impressed by your tech skills.
"I have interviewed and hired people close to twice my age," said Asher Adelman, founder and CEO of the job site GreatPlaceJobs. "I would highly recommend that older job seekers take advantage of social media platforms, which happen to be very easy to use, even for technophobes, in order to give the impression that they are in tune with the latest technological advances. This will work wonders for convincing young interviewers that you have the ability to work and relate with younger co-workers and excel in today's rapidly changing workplace."
Ignoring the Overqualified Elephant in the Room
As we all know, when employers see candidates applying for a job below their experience level or tax bracket, their hackles go up. So if you're going for a position with less pay or responsibility than you've been accustomed to, it's your job to explain in your cover letter and the interview why this is.
"It could be because they've had a very stressful career life and now would enjoy having their hands in something that is still part of a team but doesn't involve so many headaches," said Judi Perkins, a recruiter for 22 years who now works as a career coach. "It could be they're willing to take a cut in pay because the almighty dollar just isn't as important to them anymore."
Whatever rationale you give (no longer interested in climbing the ladder, done with working 14-hour days, miss the hands-on tasks you did before joining management), be sure to let potential employers know that you're interested in them, rather than just a job.
If you need more help getting up to speed with today's brave new job hunt, visit your local career center and check out AARP's excellent job hunting advice for older workers.
Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your tattooed, flip-flop wearing counterparts need someone who's been around the block a few times to show them how this work thing's really done.
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This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist, author and former cubicle dweller. Her books — "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube" and "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" (October 2008) -- offer an irreverent take on the traditional career guide. More tips on career change, flex work and the freelance life can be found on her blog, Anti9to5Guide.com