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Career Monday: Job Hunters Guide to Overcoming Age Issues

There’s at least one thing job hunters at the beginning and end of their career have in common. Both groups find that age affects their career prospects, and how they need to present themselves to potential employers.

Job hunters over 40 and young adults seeking their first position face extra hurdles. Long term unemployment increases with age, and the retirement age keeps rising for seniors who can’t afford to leave the workforce. Recent graduates encounter entry level jobs that require previous experience, and offer low wages that make it difficult to pay off student loans.

There are solutions that can make the search smoother. Try these suggestions for developing a strategy that suits your stage of life.

Job Hunting Suggestions for Older Workers:

1. Be creative. Most labor experts agree that many employers are reluctant to hire anyone over 50 for full time positions with benefits. You can still earn money through freelancing, consulting, and other arrangements.

2. Reduce your expenses. You may have to make some adjustments to be able to afford paying for your own payroll taxes and health insurance, or accepting a job with a lower salary. Housing and entertainment are two prime areas for lowering monthly bills.

3. Revive your network. If you haven’t looked for a job in years, it’s time to mingle. Create a LinkedIn profile, and let others know what you’re looking for.

4. Streamline your resume. Trim your resume down to 1 or 2 pages. Focus on the most recent and relevant experience.

5. Stay up to date. Pay attention to keywords and trends in your industry. Research which technology skills are in demand.

6. Consider boomeranging. If you still have a good relationship with a previous employer, explore opportunities to take up where you left off. Maybe there’s a staff opening or some contract work.

7. Speak up. Employers may have age-related biases even if they don’t say them out loud. Instead of hoping no one will notice your age if you leave your graduation date off your resume, try addressing concerns directly by demonstrating your enthusiasm and technological savvy.

Job Hunting Suggestions for Younger Workers:

1. Gain experience. Acquiring experience while you’re still in school is a smart move. Work during the summers or part-time during school. Consider volunteering at a nonprofit or completing a paid or unpaid internship in your field.

2. Go offline. While you’re using social media and browsing internet job boards, be sure to reach out to others face to face. Invite your contacts out for coffee, and ask for referrals for job leads and informational interviews.

3. Focus on learning. Any job can be worthwhile if you use it to pick up knowledge and skills. Maybe you’ll find a mentor or be able to take software courses for free.

4. Try things out. As a young adult, you may have more flexibility before you take on a mortgage and parenting. This could be your chance to teach English in a foreign country or take a risk joining a start-up company.

5. Ask for help. Reach out to your peers, and to established professionals in your field. Other recent graduates can understand what you’re going through. Older colleagues will often find satisfaction in assisting someone who’s just starting out. Your campus career office is also a great starting point for advice and resources.

Job hunting requires patience and persistence, especially in the early and later portions of your career. Find inspiration in the success stories of others, and create your own good fortune by taking your age into account when you’re looking for your next position.

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