Network with People You Know to Get the Job You Want After 50

By Kerry Hannon

Copyright © 2015 AARP. All rights reserved.

Networking can be one of your most powerful resources when seeking the job you want after 50. Networking sounds harder than it is. You already know the people in your network. All you need to do is reach out to them and let them know you’re looking for work. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Brainstorm. Meet with your significant other and/or friends and brainstorm a list of people to contact. Write down the names of previous employers and colleagues who may be in a position to help you find openings or introduce you to others who may know about openings. Here’s a short list to get you started:

    • People in your faith community or other social circles you belong to who could offer support and encouragement.

    • People you volunteer with or have volunteered with

    • Neighbors

    • Trade and professional organizations

    • Local businesspeople, including lawyers, accountants, and bank officers

  • Pick up the phone and start dialing. Make at least one call a day to someone who may be in a position to help. When you run out of names and numbers, call everyone else you know, even if you think the person can’t help you; you never know where that next job lead will come from.

    Connecting in person and over the phone are the best ways to get an interview with a potential employer. If you don’t establish a personal connection to the company, filling out an application is probably a waste of time.

    A phone call is much more effective than an email or text message. A face-to-face meeting over coffee or lunch is even better. Send an email message only if you can’t find the person’s phone number.

  • Tap your family ties. Don’t be embarrassed to call immediate and extended family members when you’re out of work. No need to keep up a pretense that everything is fine. Push past any worries about looking needy or vulnerable. Being out of work is a blow to your ego and may make you feel less than 100 percent, but realize that it’s okay. Most people understand and are happy to make a connection for you if they can.

  • Reconnect with former classmates. School alumni organizations are a great source of contacts for your job search. Alumni directories help you find old friends, classmates, and even teachers/instructors/professors. They can also connect you with people you didn’t know who are currently working for your target employers or in your target industry/profession.

  • Touch base with former coworkers. Many employers have “alumni” groups, on LinkedIn, Facebook, and elsewhere on the Internet. Search “[employer name] alumni group” to find former colleagues, bosses, and even those you knew only slightly who also worked for the same employer. Having worked for the same organization is common ground that warrants an invitation to get connected. If the company doesn’t have an alumni group, start one or help organize a reunion.

Don’t stop there. If you know vendors, clients, or even competitors from your former days with a company, reach out to them. Using these connections and others, you can build a highway to a new job. Just comply with any non-compete clause you may have signed with a former employer.