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Friday, January 15, 2010

Common Concerns Older Workers Have & Answers

As an older, experienced worker, you are not immune to job loss during a recession. But you may have unique concerns about navigating the job market.

Question: I'm worried that potential employers will pass me up because they'll think I'm overqualified. Should I "dumb down" my resume — exclude certain experiences or achievements — so employers give me a second look?

Answer: You shouldn't portray yourself as less qualified than you are. The key is to show prospective employers how your extra experience can translate into real value for them. You may have unique perspectives or insights that a less experienced candidate does not. Read job ads carefully, research employers thoroughly, tailor your resume appropriately, and get ready to explain how your background is an asset, rather than a liability.

Question: As an older job hunter, how should I organize my resume?

Answer: Older workers may want to consider using a functional resume (which highlights specialized skills and experiences) rather than a chronological resume (which details past experience by date). Make sure your resume highlights the skills and experiences that are relevant to your current career objectives, and omits the irrelevant details. You need not list every job you've ever had.

Question: Can I compete in today's labor market if I don't have good computer skills?

Answer: It's true that most office jobs require computer skills. However, there are still plenty of jobs that require only limited computer skills. You can use the tools and technology report to find occupations that don't require you to use a computer. You may also want to get comfortable with computers by taking a class or getting short-term training. Informal introductory computer classes are often offered through public libraries, school districts, and community centers. Community technology centers have been organized in some Minnesota communities specifically to provide computer training and access to the public.

If your computer skills aren't up to date, make sure your resume doesn't advertise this. If you do include computer experience on your resume, use current terminology to describe your skills.

If you feel you are weak in one area, highlight your strengths in another. Older workers are often perceived to have excellent soft skills such as customer service and communication skills. These are extremely important at any job. If you feel you have strength in this area, make sure to highlight it on your resume or job application.

Question: I'm not web savvy. Do I have to use the internet to find a job?

Answer: If you are serious about finding a job, you should explore all your options, including online options. More employers are posting job openings on the web, so you may miss out on opportunities if you ignore online job banks or social networking sites. If you are not sure how to use this technology, visit a Minnesota Work Force Center to get one-on-one help.

Question: I've been laid off after many years in one field. Where do I start?

Answer: A good way to begin any job search is to take a step back and assess your skills using the ISEEK Skills Assessment. If you've been working at the same job for many years, you may be unsure how to do this. Start by writing about 3-5 work experiences you've had that you enjoyed or were good at. Then try to identify the similarities across all those experiences. This can be a good way to identify 3 or 4 of your best skills. Once you've done that, try taking the Skills Profiler to rate your skills and view occupations that are a good match for you. Or check out O*NET's free assessment tools.

Related "How To" Tools:
1)How to Answer Any Question An Interviewer Could Possibly Throw At You! (TP)
2)Start learning how to Ace your next Job Interview (TP)

Click here to read part 2 of this article


  1. Unless the "what you have done" matches well with "what they need to get done", it may only amplify any preceived mismatch. As the piece offered, "Skills and Abilities" at the top. Some employers demand one page resumes - others prefer detailed ones. My recommendation is to send both and let them select one to their liking.
    Any resumes that do not match the keywords in the job offering will be assumed to be from applicants that can't be bothered with details.
    There's more competition out there than ever before. You have to be better than everyone else or you stay on the beach. Hiring older workers is riskier. Show them you are well worth any potential downside. Keep your LinkedIn contact list populated - an older worker without contacts is a bigger risk.

  2. I agree 100% with the previous comment, with all points. I also wanted to mention that a lot of "older" workers emphasize "over 30 years of experience" for example. I advise people NOT to call so much attention to just exactly how long they've "been around". Many industries want fresh perspective and much like Doctors, the perception is that some people don't evolve with the times, but rely on methods learned many years ago. You don't want to seem "Old School." Have a modern "skills-oriented" resume version AND keep linkedin profile growing with connections to counter this potential (mis)perception. Get on twitter and follow people in your industry -- show the world you are as current as you are savvy with substantial experience to back you up.

  3. very helpful posts, it answers some questions I have been asking myself.


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