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Out of Work? Try These Tips

Experts offer suggestions to help you land the perfect job

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

If you’re 55 or older and looking for work, you may find your search more challenging than you had imagined. Try these tips from area experts to improve your chances:


Tips from Laura Thorne, Owner,
Laura Thorne Consulting, Syracuse

• “When I talk with job seekers, the first thing they’re concerned with is their age and how they’re perceived. I tell them if that’s their concern, I equally hear from young people who think they’re not experienced enough. If you’re concerned about a workplace seeing you as too old or a place having ageism, maybe it’s not a place you want to work. Change the script in your own mind. You’re not old; in some cases, you’re over-qualified. Focus on what you can bring to the table that a young person doesn’t bring.

• “Get your LinkedIn page up and going. That’s where you can highlight the great stuff you do and your unique philosophy. Don’t put up a carbon copy of your resume. Highlight your strengths. LinkedIn is a great place to follow the companies you want to work for and project you’re working on. You can focus on the company.

• “Keep your resume to one page. If you can’t sell them on one page, you can’t sell them on two.

• “If you haven’t worked in a while, explain your gaps. If you did side projects, even unpaid, put that on there. I find it’s better to put things in chronological order rather than shift it around and try to fool them. Keep it in an organized order. If you had a business fail, recognize the strength you have and what you learned from it. You can explain it in the interview.

• “If you were a stay-at-home mom, explain any side business you ran during those years or volunteering. Find a woman-owned company. Look at the values of the company. Are there other moms who work there? Have conversations with people at those companies.”


Tips from Carol R. Fletcher, president & owner,
C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc., Syracuse

• “Keep up on tech and computer skills. Stay current, whether you’re in IT, sales or administrative. It’s really critical.

• “Don’t be afraid to tell them how long you’re going to work before retirement. You don’t know if they think you’ll work two years and leave.

• “Tell them you’re able to be flexible. The younger age bracket has to work from home if they have kids at home. If you’re 55 and older, you typically don’t have young children at home.

• “Certificates you’ve earned lately should always be on the resume. Stay up on what’s going on in your industry. Mention any recently attended conferences and anything you’ve done to further your learning experience after college.

• “Ask people in the younger generation where they found their job online.

• “After you get an interview, and let’s say it’s Zoom, dress professionally. Don’t sit in your kitchen with a sweatshirt on. It’s not the right way to portray yourself. Eliminate outside noises.

• “Use every resource but approach it as it you’re going onsite to a potential employer. Always follow up with a thank-you or email immediately. Make sure you get the person’s name, title and always mention something about the company specific to what they do. It shows you did research on the organization.

• “If you are looking for a job word-of-mouth, whoever you talk with, make sure you can trust them because you don’t want it all over the street that you’re looking for a position. Ask people about their work and how they got that job. Show interest in people. They may say, ‘We have an opening in our company. Would you like an introduction?”

• “If someone calls you on a position and it’s not what you want, be professional. You never know although that position isn’t for you, you could have one down the road that you do want.

• “Do not blow yourself out of the market by doubling the salary, asking for $200,000 when you are making $100,000. They ask for a range and a lot of people place themselves outside the market. Get the offer on the table and you can always go back and negotiate. If they offer $100,000 and you want $125,000, say you want an increase. Set the right expectations.”


Tips from Barbara H. Stone, president,
Build Your Path, LLC, Baldwinsville.

• “Networking is your net worth. Throughout my career, I never had to put my resume out. People knew me. LinkedIn is part of networking, along with Slack communities, and More Good Jobs, an app that’s really connecting. People over 55 need to really tap into their network of people.

• “As you get older, it’s really about selling your skills and the value you bring. Be passionate and sell your value and talents. There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘This is what I’m after; this is what I’m looking for.’

• “Find a handout on behavioral type questions. A lot of times, people are going to ask things like, ‘Tell me about when you led a team and they had a roadblock. Tell me about how you dealt with that.’ instead of ‘Tell me your greatest strength.’ They have a STAR formation: Situation, Task at hand, Actions, Results.

• “You really need to know your resume and what you’ve accomplished. You need to know your transferable and adaptable skills.

• “Make sure your resume has something you could quantify as to the results: I reduced inventory by 25% by doing so or I reduced safety instances by 30% by doing thus and so. They want to see the value that you brought and contributed.

• “Remove early, unrelated employment from your resume as long as it doesn’t show any gaps.

• “Title and companies should be a brief blurb and then bullet points on accomplishments. If you can, quantify any significant contributions.

• “Eliminate any skills that aren’t part of the times; that might date you like WordPerfect or things everyone knows or that don’t relate to the industry.

• “Your appearance is about knowing your environment. Know the industry you’re dressing for.

• “Know you’re not 30 anymore. It’s okay. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. Be authentic.

• “It doesn’t matter how old you are; you can still learn and contribute to the company and key is to be impactful. You want to bring value.”