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8 Common Mistakes Older Job Seekers Make

If you are job hunting in your 50s, and some of these 'don'ts' describe you, here's what to do

  • Zohar Lazar

    Kicking Back and Taking a Break

    En español | Fix: Keep busy. Employers look for self-starters. Remain active by consulting or blogging in your field, so you can raise your profile. When Randy Rieland, 63, got his new job he was hired by a colleague he had known years before: “I had kept in touch with her, and she knew the work I was now doing. She didn’t care about age.”

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Using Dated Email Accounts

    Fix: AOL and Yahoo email addresses mark you as outdated. Consider using Google or Outlook, and create a professional email address for your job hunt. If your name has already been claimed, add something that identifies your profession, such as jsmitheditor or jsmithmarketing.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Missing a Digital Presence

    Fix: Tweet, friend and connect. Consider this: 94 percent of 1,855 recruiters and HR professionals surveyed in one study credited LinkedIn as the essential source for recruiting. Use social media. “The biggest mistake I see is older job seekers confusing privacy with invisibility,” says Susan P. Joyce, an online job-search expert.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Lacking Salary Flexibility

    Fix: Temper salary demands. This is a deal breaker for lots of older workers, who find it insulting to be offered less than they were making in their last job. One way to soften the blow is to negotiate for more flextime, vacation days and other perks that can bump up your package so you don’t lose face.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Overlooking Contacts

    Fix: Network, network, network. This is business. You never know who might be in a position to help or introduce you to someone who can. Dig deep into your network to connect with folks you may have worked with years ago, or college and high school classmates (think Facebook). Even parents of your kids’ friends can help.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Overdoing Your Résumé

    Fix: Limit yours to two pages. Recruiters will scan it in 20 or 30 seconds. Choose a traditional font such as Times New Roman. Tell a story with short snippets: that you cut costs by a certain amount, or improved sales by 25 percent. Restrict your work history to the past 10 years. And proofread your résumé!

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Ruling Out Jobs

    Fix: Don’t overthink the job description. Treat a job posting as an ideal. Often it’s a wish list of what a company would love a new employee to have, but only a number of the requirements are really essential. A good attitude and a solid work history will carry you the rest of the way.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Waiting for the Perfect Job

    Fix: Stop living in the past. Don’t pass on a job because you don’t think it’s an ideal fit. It might be; it’s just not what you had been doing. When it comes to landing a job, don’t be stuck in the idea that you need to replace the job you had before. Look at your skill set and experience as transferable.

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