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How Should Older Workers Navigate the Job Market?

Ways 50-plus workers can best market their skills

Does it make sense to make a career change later in life?

The process of reinventing yourself is revitalizing — and it may be the smartest course of action if you're in a dying field. Start by identifying your skills and passions — we're talking about the very essence of what makes you you. At LifeReimagined, you can get a little help with identifying your passion and figuring out which jobs, industries and environments would stoke that fire.

How about starting your own business? AARP and the Small Business Administration are working together to provide counseling and training to budding entrepreneurs who want to start or grow a small business. Visit aarp.org/startabusiness to learn more.

I'm not getting any responses to my applications. What should I do?

* Are you treating your job search as a full-time job? You should be. Develop a search strategy, create a home office for executing your search and try to spend four to six hours each day on specific tasks related to your search.

* Don't be tempted to just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. It's important to know your skills and match them to a specific industry and specific types of jobs within that industry. At that point, consider all available options: full time, part time, contract, working at home or even seasonal employment. Sometimes just getting in the door will lead to a more permanent opportunity.

* Attend events and career fairs and work with your school's alumni career center.

* Make sure your résumé translates your years of experience into specific skills and accomplishments that will grab the attention of recruiters.

* Do you feel that your age is holding you back? You may want to target your employment search to companies that value mature workers.

* Are you feeling a little lonely during your search? Use social media sites to connect with colleagues and prospective employers. Consider joining AARP's Work Reimagined group on LinkedIn to network with peers and find answers, advice, inspiration and job opportunities.

* If you're getting interviews but no offers, focus on how you present yourself. Practice mock interviews with friends. Make sure you are relaxed and that your frustration isn't showing. It might also be the time to update or refresh your look and wardrobe.

* If you still find yourself truly stuck, consider talking to a career counselor.

Jean C. Setzfand is vice president of the Financial Security issues team in the Education and Outreach group at AARP. She leads AARP's educational and outreach efforts aimed at helping Americans achieve financial peace of mind in retirement. She can be reached at jsetzfand@aarp.org and you can follow her on Twitter @JSetz.

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Retire No More: People are living longer, Social Security's running dry, and some studies show early retirement can be bad for your health. Let's reconsider the retirement age.

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