As if finding a job wasn’t hard enough for those making a midlife career change, but add to it the additional challenges that come from COVID-19 and things do start to look pretty bleak. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who have not tested positive for the coronavirus, finding employment won’t be easy. That’s because so many businesses, regardless of size, have been forced to downsize to stay alive. That means a lot of people have lost their jobs and are flooding the job market alongside you. But you do have some advantages compared to these younger workers. All you need to do is follow these simple tips and let them guide you through the ever-changing landscape that has been impacted now, and will likely be continually impacted until the pandemic is brought under control.
Tip #1 - Don’t Let COVID-19 Be Your Main Focus
You can’t let the situation that is clearly out of your hands take control over your thoughts and fears. Sure, don’t ignore it, either. COVID-19 is much more than that giant elephant in the room. So, wear a mask, wash and disinfect your hands frequently, socially distance, and stick to the protocols that exist to keep you and those around you safe. The last thing you need is for a potential new employer to sense that the pandemic is wearing you down (even if it is) and making you afraid to interact with anyone in public. It’s also a good idea to stroke COVID-19 off of your list of conversation starters. This is especially true in a job interview situation. However, if you get asked about what you are doing to stay safe during the pandemic, it’s okay to give a brief rundown of the precautions you are taking. Just keep it basic and short.
Tip #2 - Emphasis Your Tech Savviness
This one may require some homework if you don’t already have and use either a tablet or smartphone. That’s because with COVID-19 changing how things get done in the workplace, chances are good that you will be expected to be able to perform some or many of your job duties from a computerized tool of some sort. This tends to be one of the biggest hurdles for job seekers in the over-50 age group. Not all of them have handheld devices and this will push you close to the bottom of the pile of applicants if you don’t know what an app is or how to use a tablet for job-related tasks. The other side of the coin is that if you are rather proficient at software use, lean on this in your cover letter and list the different types of software you have experience with. This means things other than having an email account.
Tip #3 - Be Flexible About Your Worksite
One thing that over-50 job seekers seem to be known for is their ability to not be very flexible about where they end up doing the bulk of their work for the day. Offices, cubicles, and such are common tools that over-50 employees are quite comfortable with. However, that is not the way today’s work environment functions. Working remotely has become much more than a trend since COVID-19 became the new kid on the block. Working from home, working on the go, and working anywhere but at the office is the new normal. You will have to shake off those habits of sticking to a single desk location where you get to know the office culture and become friends with co-workers in the same row of cubicles. Showing flexibility in where you work will be an attractive asset to any employer regardless of your experience.
Tip #4 - Although Age Is Just A Number, Don’t Bring It Up
For over-50 job seekers looking to make their midlife career change, nothing says you are old like sharing your age with a job interviewer who is younger than your grown children. That doesn’t mean you should hide it like a company secret, but you shouldn’t make it easy to figure out, either. In your resume, leave dates out of the details such as your year of graduation. You want to be considered for the job you are applying for simply based on your skills and not because you are the most senior of the applicants. Besides, age discrimination is a serious matter but you don’t want to give anyone hints that could tip them off. Once hired, it’s okay to fill out the paperwork with your date of birth, provided it is needed for such things as employment records, T-4 income tax slips, etc. Otherwise, it’s nobody’s business.
Tip #5 - Build A Social Media Profile
Even if you don’t spend much time on the internet, your competitors in line at the job interview very likely do. As intimidating as it may sound, you essentially don’t exist these days without profiles that can be located and searched on a handful of popular social media platforms. The idea here is that prospective employers will turn to social media to find out more about you that does not appear in your resume or cover letter. If their search turns up nothing, you become suspect of possibly hiding information. For an over-50 job seeker, this is much like the kiss of death. So, put some effort into building social media profiles on popular platforms so that you are visible in this sort of search. It also shows your new boss that you are not afraid to engage with others through technology which works in your favour in so many ways.
Tip #6 - Learn How To Use Video Tools
Another thing that COVID-19 has done in the employment world is pushed video conferencing platforms into the mainstream. These are now commonly used to conduct remote meetings where several individuals can attend from wherever they happen to be as long as they have an internet connection. By having a strong understanding of these tools and the ability to use them effectively, you push yourself up the ladder of eligibility. Sure, most of the other job candidates will know what Zoom and Ring are and have probably used them a few times already. But by also having that same level of knowledge, you even the playing field which increases your odds of having a better chance at getting the job than if you had never heard of video conferencing let alone understood what it was intended for.
COVID-19 has eliminated a lot of jobs and if you are in the over-50 age group planning on a midlife career change, now is as good a time as any to enter the job market. You just need to have a few things in place that will help you compete against those much younger than you seeking the same jobs. For more information on how to navigate through the third-quarter transition as an over-50 job seeker, check out my eBook on the subject HERE.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.