9 Lives for Women Blog

5 Job Search Mistakes for 50+ Women | January 26th, 2013

Reinvention can lead in many directions—not necessarily to a business of your own. You may want to use your skills in a new way, pursue a nagging dream (like the woman I wrote about who switched from financial services marketing to nursing), or get out of a less than fulfilling career rut that has persisted since about age 22.

All these reinventions require a job search, and for those who got their college diploma decades ago, it can seem like an overwhelming task. If you haven’t updated your resume in eons and your idea of an interview is watching one on TV news, I know you’ll benefit from this excerpt from an article written by Laura Labovich, a career coach in Bethesda, Maryland.

With job search management expertise as an award-winning résumé writer, social media enthusiast, and master networker, as well as a decade of experience in HR leadership at Fortune 500 companies such as The Walt Disney Company and America Online, Laura is often affectionately called “a job seeker’s best friend.”

You can find the complete article, “Job Search Strategies for the 50+ Crowd” on Laura’s site, www.thecareerstrategygroup.com. For now, zero in on five of the key mistakes Laura advises you to avoid. —KAS


  1.  Failing to have a plan. Ask yourself how many more years you want to work. Decide how you want to live those years and what you must do to get there. Take assessments to shed light on your personality and your preferences; your work style and priorities. Design the next 40 (yes, 40!) years of your life, so the next job you take is sure to position you for the long run.  A great exercise for this can be found in the book Targeting a Great Career by Kate Wendleton and is called The Forty-Year Vision.
  2.  Failing to embrace “that social media thing”.  If you are behind on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, how will you ever have time to learn Google+ or Quora? There are now more than 100 million users on Linkedin and 85% of employers are now “googling” job candidates, so if you are not in it, you are knowingly putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Understand what can be found about you online and then strategically, rather than haphazardly, build your online presence. And, if you don’t know how, get help…yes, right now.
  3.  Mistaking experienced with overqualified. If you are going for a job for less pay or responsibility, be proactive and share your reasons in the cover letter or the interview. Not looking for any more 15-hour days, or miss the excitement of a hands-on job, that’s cool. There’s a good and a bad way to frame it too, so get advice on, and practice, your delivery, because this question can quickly land you in the “no” pile.
  4.  Copping an attitude. Fear that you are harboring some resentment or bitterness toward your previous employer, or concern that you are about to be discriminated against by your next one? Get over it. Work out the bitterness before you get to the interview and stop looking for a scapegoat (your age, too much experience, the economy, etc.). Instead, share your energy and enthusiasm and consider all the new things you can learn from the new generation.
  5.  Going back to the Nixon years on your resume. Clear the clutter from your outdated resume and tailor it to the jobs to which you are applying. A tightly written two-pager is the industry standard now for those with 10+ years of experience, but handing out a 3, 4 or even 5 page doc will really show your age. Don’t turn your resume into a laundry list of your accomplishments from the 60’s and 70’s. Remember, meaty information from early in your career can be showcased in other ways, without an assignment of dates.

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