Job searching can be a stressful experience, as most candidates find themselves competing with many different people for an open position. Members of the Baby Boomer generation have to deal with the added pressure of measuring up to younger contenders, who usually have more updated skill sets and can offer many years of workforce eligibility to employers.
South Source talks with Ryan Hunt, a career advisor at CareerBuilder.com, about tips for members of the Baby Boomer generation who find themselves looking for jobs.
SS: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST SECOND CAREERS FOR BABY BOOMERS LOOKING FOR JOBS?
RH: The best second career options are those where the job seeker can hit the ground running. If the job seeker needs to switch industries, they’ll find better luck applying for positions that utilize similar skill sets – even if it’s a lower-level job. If the job seeker feels they are an expert in their field, consider applying for consulting or contract opportunities.
SS: IS IT COMMON FOR MEMBERS OF THE BABY BOOMER GENERATION TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL?
RH: It’s certainly more common than it was before the recession. A forced career detour often necessitates the acquisition of new skills. Whether it’s a full-blown degree or a new certification, acquiring these skills is the best way to stay relevant. It shows the prospective employer that you’re serious about finding a new career and are capable of adapting and learning.
SS: HOW CAN THE BABY BOOMER GENERATION KEEP THEIR SKILL SETS UPDATED?
RH: To compete for 21st century jobs, any candidate has to have 21st century skills. This may be one of the bigger concerns for hiring managers considering a more experienced candidate. Community colleges and online colleges offer a range of affordable computer training seminars that provide essential skills for competing with younger job seekers. Also, utilize the resources closest to you – your family. An hour with the kids, nephews and nieces, or even grandchildren can help the job seeker comprehend everything from a computer operating system to social media platforms.
SS: WHAT CAN BABY BOOMERS DO TO PREPARE THEMSELVES TO COMPETE WITH YOUNGER CANDIDATES WHEN LOOKING FOR JOBS?
RH: Competing with a younger person goes beyond knowing technology. A lot of hiring managers will instinctively feel the more experienced or older candidate is overqualified for the job, or may just feel uncomfortable hiring someone who is possibly much older than them. Older candidates must empathize with this view and use their experience as an advantage. For example, if you’re interviewing for a junior or entry-level position, don’t oversell past accomplishments from the management job you used to have. Instead, relate that experience to what it will bring to this new position. Show the hiring manager that while you may be in new territory, you’re just as eager to learn and work as hard as anyone else. Tell them what your value-added will be. The attitude has to be, ‘not only can I do this job, but my experience working with diverse personalities and making hard decisions is something that can’t be taught.’
SS: WHAT ARE SOME RÉSUMÉ TIPS FOR BABY BOOMER LOOKING FOR JOBS?
RH: Résumé writing has changed a lot in the last decade. Many baby boomers or experienced workers in the job market probably haven’t written a new résumé for a while, and when they do get around to it, it’s important they know that some of the rules have changed:
1) Use a functional – not chronological – résumé format. Employers don’t want to see the length or breadth of your experience. They want a brief idea of the most relevant experience as it relates to the position. Highlight keywords and skills you’ve obtained that are mentioned in the job description.
2) Use a professional summary instead of an objective. At the top of the résumé, briefly recap (in one or two sentences) your career experience, calling out the skills and job functions that most closely relate to the position.
3) Go easy on the eyes. No matter how wonderfully written, stuffing the margins with text won’t make you any more likely to catch the eye of the employer. In fact, it will probably be a deterrent. The screener may only spend 30 seconds to a minute on your résumé; make sure you’re as concise as possible and format in a way that won’t make the reader’s eyes glaze over.
Hunt says CareerBuilder’s site, PrimeCB.com is for experienced professionals looking for work.
“The site features thousands of job postings tailored toward this demographic,” Hunt says. “Job seekers can also find dozens of advice articles to help them on their new search.”
Author: Laura Jerpi