5 Job Hunting Tips for Older Workers

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Oct 11, 2021

Oct 11, 2021 • by Rebecca Smith

The job market has been very strong for some time. Although that’s a great thing for most people, a strong job market is also a double-edged sword. Even though the unemployment rate for people aged 55 and over is only 2.8% (the best among all age groups) those older adults who find themselves out of work typically struggle to find another job. Often, they are forced to work multiple jobs, or face the prospect of long-term unemployment. This article aims to provide some helpful tips for those older workers who are looking for work.

1. Look for Work Where Your Experience is Desired

Older workers have enormous reserves of experience that they can draw on. This is a massive competitive advantage over younger workers. This is not a competitive advantage that should be laid aside. To tip the scales in your favour, you should look for jobs and recruitment agencies that specifically desire the kind of experience that you bring to the table. There are specific job sites that cater to older workers, experienced workers and job changers.

Resources such as these will help you find work where your age and experience are especially desired.

2. Look Into Temp Agencies

Recruiters are a conservative bunch and do not like to hire people who are out of work. Something seems to tell them that there is a ghastly reason for why you are unemployed, and they typically don’t make the time to find out what that reason is. They favour people who already have jobs. There’s a kind of social proof that comes with trying to hire someone that another company has already seen fit to hire.

To get around this hurdle, you should consider working with temp agencies to find temp work, especially if it’s for a temp-to-hire role. A temp-to-hire role gives the company a chance to assess you before they consider making you a full-time employee. If you can excel in your role, then you will have a path to a full-time job.

3. Buy a Job

If you have built up enough savings, then why not buy into a franchise or small business? Although the media and venture capitalists like to portray successful founders and entrepreneurs as very young people, the reality is that the average age of a successful founder is 45. This figure surprises many. Founders and entrepreneurs in general, get better with age. Steve Jobs was 52 when he launched the iPhone, Bezos was middle-aged when Amazon hit its highest growth numbers, and all across the nation, middle-aged and older adults are founding successful companies, and some of those companies are growing into large, dynamic firms. Age is not a barrier, it’s an advantage.

If you own a home, you could finance your new business with a reverse mortgage. You could also use equity financing from friends and family as well as pursuing traditional bank loans.

And as the owner of your own business, you can continue working well into your 80s and 90s, like founders such as Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.

4. Put More of Your Pay “At Risk”

Although it’s easy to say that businesses are hesitant about hiring older workers because of ageism, there is a business argument to be made against hiring older workers: their experience means that they command higher salaries than younger workers. A business would rather have a younger worker and pay that worker less and train them into their role, than hire someone older, who will command a higher salary. The math just works out in favour of younger people. To get round this, you might offer to take a lower upfront salary, in exchange for which, your employer should guarantee a higher potential bonus in the event that you succeed. Businesses are very good at measuring performance and tying that to compensation. If you do well, you could earn more than the advertised salary.

5.Use the Power of Your Network

As an older worker, you have probably already developed an extensive network of contacts. Yet, you can never have too many people in your network. Networks define how far ideas spread, the kinds of work and business opportunities you come across. Networks also give you access to private information, diverse skill sets and power. Diagnose your existing network and build it to maximise your chances of finding work.

Find the information brokers within your network. These are the people that everyone shares information with and who are the first to share information with their network. These are the people within your network who enjoy bringing people together. Look for activities that bring you into contact with those information brokers. It is always easier to develop relations through shared activities rather than through more direct means.

Information brokers are not often obviously powerful, but they are accessible and they will connect you to people outside your network.