Effective Strategies to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Getting the job you want after 50 may seem like a daunting task, but there are some tried and true ways to approach your job hunt. When reemployed workers were asked about the most effective steps they took in finding their current jobs, the overwhelming majority attributed their success to networking, according to the AARP’s “The Long Road Back: Struggling to Find Work after Unemployment.” Here are the most effective steps:

  • Reaching out to a network of contacts

  • Asking relatives and friends about jobs

  • Contacting employers directly

  • Using a headhunter

  • Consulting professional associations

Based on these findings and advice from the report’s coauthor Lori Trawinski, project director of AARP’s Future of Work@50+ Initiative, older unemployed job seekers should consider the following two points of advice:

  • If you’re interested in a particular industry, join an association connected with it and seek out volunteer openings. Go to industry and professional meetings and conferences. You never know who will know someone who is hiring. And many college and university career centers are reaching out to alumni to help, too.

  • Volunteer while you’re out of work. By putting your volunteering on your résumé, you won’t show a blank period of unemployment. To the extent that you can, be out in the world using your skills.

  • Be aggressive in your job search. Network as much as you can as well as keep an eye out for openings. The people who are aggressive are more likely to be reemployed.

Networking is not optional! “Networking” is just one letter off from “not working.” Simply put, many older folks have better networks than do younger people. Employers want to hire someone who comes with the blessing of an existing employee or colleague. It makes their job easier.

That’s a card younger workers, who often have smaller networks, can’t play as often as older workers. LinkedIn, for instance, is a great way to pull together your professional network. And you have got to pick up that darn phone. Ask for help and advice. Here are some concrete ways to network:

  • Pick up the phone and call everybody you ever worked with and every employer you ever worked for. That’s the way to get an interview. If you don’t establish a personal connection to the company, submitting an application is probably a waste of time.

    • Call friends of friends, people in your faith community, athletic club, volunteer organizations, and parents of your children’s friends. Heck, call your children’s friends, too!

    • Contact trade and professional associations you belong to. Many have job boards.

  • Connect with alumni associations and your fraternity or sorority if you belong to one. College and university placement offices are there to help no matter how long ago you graduated.

  • Canvas local lawyers, accountants, and bank officers in town and see if they know of any clients who are hiring. In short, you really have to “kiss a lot of frogs” to find a prince. Leave no stone unturned.

  • Join LinkedIn and Facebook, find and reconnect with people you know, and let everyone know you’re looking for a job.

For a treasure trove of job search tips and information, head to the AARP’s website.