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How You Can Prepare Yourself for the New Job Market

Follow these tips to help you face the new reality of work

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En español | Once the pandemic ends, a large number of older workers will need to find a new job — or even a new career. And the available jobs will be moving more to telecommunicating and digital work than ever before. Here's what you can do now to prepare for the new reality of work.

1. Learn new digital communication platforms.

You'll likely need to get used to video interviews or meetings, since communicating via video chats and file sharing will be more popular. Remote-work digital training is available on sites such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, YouTube and Udemy. First, try free online tutorials provided by the app developers themselves: Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom and Google. Then move to collaboration apps for team projects, such as Basecamp, Asana and Trello. Most are intuitive and easy to learn.

2. Polish your LinkedIn profile.

When the scramble for jobs starts, this will be your personal billboard to present yourself well to prospective employers. Add any recent awards or promotions, and detail any work-related skills learned in recent weeks that will make you more attractive for telecommuting jobs. Do a LinkedIn search to find contacts you might connect with at a company where you might want to work. Follow ones that intrigue you. Look at profiles of others in your field to get ideas of how you might tweak your own.

3. Police your digital identity.

Now that you might have some time, remove anything posted on social media that you wouldn't want employers or recruiters to see. Search your name and click on the top 10 links. You're looking at what a potential boss can see. And, yes, these days potential employers are looking at you in every digital channel. Some of this footprint is of your own creation; at a minimum, you should have polished pages on LinkedIn and Facebook. But also check out Facebook posts you're tagged in but didn't originate. Untag yourself from anything unprofessional.


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4. Look for work-from-home jobs.

These are clearly the future. Along with going to jobs.aarp.org, you can find jobs on these sites that focus on remote work: FlexJobs.com, Remote.co, WorkingNomads.co, wahve.com and RatRaceRebellion.com. These sites screen for legitimate employers.

5. Update your résumé.

It's important to have a current version on hand that will allow you the flexibility to respond to sudden openings. Keep it short (no more than two pages). Weave your narrative with your CAR (challenge, action, result) stories. Think advertisement, not obituary. AARP Resume Advisor offers a free expert review.

6. Network virtually.

Contacts are critical in what may be a highly competitive post-coronavirus job market. Methodically extend your circle. Join online professional groups for networking on LinkedIn and Facebook. Touch base with former colleagues or classmates.

7. Learn something new.

If you have been furloughed or are out of work and waiting for things to return to normal, take the time to add skills or brush up existing ones. Take an online class or enroll in a course for certification. Tap into free webinars and podcasts in subjects that interest you.

8. Plan to work longer.

If, like most Americans, your retirement accounts have taken a hit as stock markets fell during the pandemic, this may mean you'll need to work beyond your official retirement age. Factor that into your plans as you strategize for a post-coronavirus world.

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is the author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50 +: Finding Work that Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the BillsGetting the Job You Want After 50 for DummiesLove Your Job and What’s Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

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