Looking for a new job at any point in your life can be a stressful and frustrating experience. Jumping back in the game—willingly or not—over the age of 40, though? The fear, ageist judgement and criticism can be brutal and all-too real. Who hasn't heard the horror stories of recruiters tossing out résumés with graduation dates prior to 2003? Ugh. So, we decided to reach out to Holly Caplan, a career coach with her own experience as 40+-year-old woman in the job search trenches. Here, Caplan's five helpful tips to apply to your own career swerve. And remember: you got this.
1. Use your network, not online listings
Sending our résumés to career websites is a shot in the dark for most people—and especially those with more...uh, experience. The better option to is use your network of colleagues, former business associates and friends to find companies who are hiring and will have a genuine interest in what we can do for their organizations. As much as you’ve turned your nose down at the word “networking” before, it does work, and it’s the absolute best way to get your foot in the door. Time pull out the ole' Rolodex.
2. Focus on experience, not graduation dates
For me, this is a really important mind-set. When the world is giving you feedback that your experience is worth less than a four-digit number, you need to remind yourself that you already possess the skills to succeed. After you’ve landed that interview, don’t apologize for the year you were born; make it an asset. (But also, don't like, obsess over it anything. Just be proud!)
3. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions
The desperation to land a job can turn you into a yes-woman or pushover when really, the best fit will happen when you engage as yourself.
4. Seek a confident mentor
I talk to my mentor almost daily. Over 60, she’s been in the trenches and battled the age issue herself; so she knows what needs to change to make the workplace better. She makes it a point to lead, hire and promote other women, and I find it incredibly inspiring and helpful to have her on my personal "team," especially when I'm feeling less than optimistic about career changes.
5. Remember that you're tech literate
Much to the disbelief of others, age doesn’t stifle our tech knowledge. Most of us already use work-related apps like Zoom, Slack, Dropbox and others. The point is, our tech knowledge isn’t lacking. Be mindful of “admitting” you’ve never used a certain platform because “you’re old.” Seriously. Different companies use different tech—even people born in this millennium won’t have used every app, software or platform. But you can copy their confidence that you’ll be able to learn, because you will be.
Holly Caplan is a workplace issues expert, career coach and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl's Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. For more information, please visit www.hollycaplan.com and connect with her on Twitter, @hollymcaplan.