Get a Job: strategies for people 50 plus

Get a job: When it makes sense to work for free

A series of layoffs in Alberta's energy sector means there's some stiff competition for jobs in the province.

To help you get that job, the Calgary Eyeopener enlisted the help of Richard Bucher, a career coach with Right Management.

Bucher meets job seekers in their 50s and 60s every week, but they no longer make up the bulk of his clientele.

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"Historically, baby boomers, I think, were over-represented in the outplaced population," he told Eyeopener host Jennifer Keene.

"Not so anymore. I'm seeing engineers in training, new geology grads, people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. It's quite a balanced group now."

Bucher said workers in their 50s and 60s express concern about being able to compete for the work they want against applicants who are ten to twenty years younger.

He offered some strategies for the 50-plus job seeker.

1. Get over the myth that employers don't want you

Bucher said organizations need the wisdom and knowledge that come with the 50-plus age group.

"The only way you get that kind of experience is to reach that age," he explained.

"There's no short cuts, you can't go get it any other way, you can't buy it any other way, unless it's within the person that has acquired that knowledge."

Bucher says he meets older job seekers who assume employers won't be interested in them because they want employees who will stay with the company for 15-20 years.

"Which is a fascinating myth," he said, "because show me an organization that could tell you to your face, 'yes, we'll have a job for you for 20 years.' There isn't one out there today that could say that, nor are they saying it, and nor are they expecting it, frankly."

Bucher said employment today is a transactional relationship that lasts only as long as it's mutually convenient, so employers are not interested in long term commitments from prospective employees.

2. Make your resume ageless

Bucher notes that older workers can handicap themselves when they advertise their age with their resumes.

"I see resumes that have graduation dates in the 80s. Get rid of those ... I want people knowing the education you have, not how long ago you got it," he advised.

He says your resume should focus on the last 15 to 20 years of your career — anything earlier is not of interest to the employer anyway.

3. Don't look your age

Bucher says your looks matter. He put it bluntly — "I see a lot of people, frankly, that look their age," he said.

"So if a third of your body weight is hanging over your belt, talk to your doctor, figure out a plan, get moving, and get fit," he advised.

Bucher said there is so much competition, that having a healthy appearance is a huge part of the impression you make in a job interview.

"I don't think it matters the age. When you walk in with that presence, of being vital, informed, energetic, and comfortable in your own skin ... I think that's important."

4. Network, network, network

As an older worker, Bucher says you likely have an advantage over younger competitors, with a network that is more expansive than you might think.

And working those contacts to lead you to the kind of work you're after. 

"So I'd definitely want to tap into that," he said,