Wind River
Library and Nonprofit Consulting
Finding a Job
After 50
They may think about older people
like their parents, and many
managers would rather not
supervise their parents.

How do you overcome that bias?
The attitude an applicant takes into
a job interview is important. You
don't want to treat a manager as
"sonny boy" or talk about the last
26 jobs you've had. You need to
focus on your skills, to make it
clear you have just the right ones
for this particular job.

Does how old you look matter?
Yes. As you hit your 50s, one day
you can look 40, the next day you
can look 70. During your interview
you want that to be the day you're
looking as close to 40 as possible.
Get a good night's sleep. Make
sure your outfit and hair are up to
date. Try not to lumber around
when you walk or look arthritic
when you sit in a chair. You need a
quick, energetic step.

How else can you de-emphasize
age?
Make your résumé as neutral as
possible. Don't put down dates for
your education or go back more
than 15 years on jobs. You don't
want to call attention to the fact
that you were in the work world in
1966. Once you establish a
relationship with the interviewer,
you'll have less difficulty with age
prejudice.

Is there an upside to job hunting
when you're over 50?
What's happening in most
industries is, as baby boomers
retire, they're leaving a hole in the
workforce. If managers can't fill the
jobs because they can't find the
type of people they're looking for,
they might be open to older people.
Even if salaries aren't great, you
may be able to negotiate things
that are more important to you:
flextime, more vacation time. If
you're looking for the job of your
dreams, sometimes you can help
structure it.
You're Older? So
Sell Your Wisdom
Ageism is real, but you can beat it by emphasizing
your skills and building relationships.
Age discrimination is against the
law, but highly qualified people in
over for jobs they might have
landed easily if they were 20 years
younger. Jeannette Woodward, a
former university library director
who wrote Finding A Job After 50
(Career Press), says you must get
interviewers to look past the
crow's-feet and appreciate why
your experience and maturity
make you the best person to hire.
From her home in Lander, Wyo.,
Woodward spoke to Associate
Editor Amy Dunkin about
strategies for doing just that.

How is finding a job
different when you're not far
from retirement age?
This isn't a time to do it the same
way you always have. You don't
want to end up in the same rut.
Make sure it's a job you want.
You need to start over and think
about what's really important to
you.

How do you do that?
Think about how much money
you need. Are you burned out?
Do you want a major change in
occupation or where you live?
Many people would be happier if
they changed direction.
Someone in my book did a total
turnaround when he was 57. He
went back to school and got a
that in his 20s but people told
him that he wouldn't be able to
make a living. He wound up
working for many years in city
government in a very
responsible job, and when some
newcomers came in, he was
pushed into a corner and realized
that he was terribly unhappy.
He's now teaching English at a
university and he really enjoys
being in the classroom again
.

Is there an unspoken bias
against over-50 workers?
Oh, yes. I'm not sure that when
managers are hiring they intend
to discriminate. But when an
older person comes along, that's
not the person who comes to
mind.
This article is
excerpted from the
February 19, 2007 issue
of  BusinessWeek
Magazine

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