A midlife career change can seem daunting. Remember, you have a wealth of experience, be confident in yourself!
You’re re-entering the job market and undergoing a career change at 40. That can be an intimidating feeling. You’re going up against younger, cheaper, and, in many cases, more up-to-date competition. However, worrying about the younger players and the inherent ageism found in the job search won't help you to land a job any sooner. You can’t control who else is out there.
Don’t expect your phone to blow up the day you start sending your resume out. Today’s job market can move very slowly, and many companies may not get back to you at all because they simply get too many applications.
What you can control in the largely uncontrollable job-search process is yourself. If you haven’t looked for work in a few years, or you feel your job search is being negatively impacted by ageism, it could be time to give your professional brand a makeover. Below are nine ways to combat ageism during the job hunt and land the right job, sooner.
Your professional resume
Of course you’ll need to update your jobs to be current, but there are a lot more tweaks you’ll want to make to your resume so that it doesn’t scream “I’m out of date!” to employers. Resumes have changed a lot over the past few years. If you aren’t certain you can do a great job with it, hire a resume-writing service to help you out.
One of the benefits of a career change at 40 is that you do have experience. That means your resume should have plenty of material you can use to make it exceptional. Not to mention you have a wide net of professional contacts with whom to network.
Your skills and certifications
Have you kept up with the trends in your profession? While you start considering changing career, this can be a great time to take an online course to get certified or simply update your skill set. Once accomplished, add these to your resume to show how current you are. Are you tech savvy? If not, you’ll want to brush up on a few basics. It’s 2016 and technology rules. You’ll want to get on board before you’re left behind.
Your LinkedIn profile
If your first thought was “What’s a LinkedIn?”, the time has come for you to figure it out. LinkedIn is the primary social media site for career-minded professionals. People use it to discover job opportunities, find candidates, and network with each other. Make sure your account is up to date and has a great, professional-looking headshot. A good LinkedIn profile can go a long way.
Your search for job leads
Don’t bother reaching for the newspaper for a midlife career change, if you still get one. Online job boards are where you want to be looking. There are a lot of general sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, but don’t stop there. Think about your profession. Does it have any professional organizations or industry-specific online publications? Sometimes those organizations have their own job boards. Run a few Google searches to see if you can find a niche job board that specifically targets your field. That’s a great way to narrow your search and make things easier.
Your professional network
Another benefit of changing careers at 40 is that you’ve had time to make some friends and develop a network within your field. Now is a great time to reach out to some of them even if just to touch base. Are there any good networking events coming up? Get out of the house and see some of your colleagues face-to-face and make a few new friends while you’re at it. Networking is a great way to discover jobs that may not be out there on the job boards yet.
Your cover letter
In today’s age of information, you need to show that you know how to use it. Instead of the old cover letter that simply bragged about your skills, you need to show that you’ve researched the company and tell them why you are a perfect fit for them. Why do you want to work for their company specifically? What can you do for them right away?
Remember, changing careers is not about you and why you need a job, it’s about why you and that company are a perfect match. Never underestimate the power of a great cover letter.
Your phone interview
In today’s job market, phone interviews are conducted for almost any job before meeting face-to-face. It’s a way for the employer to weed through the candidates whose resumes impressed them without wasting too much time. Take this interview just as seriously as a sit-down meeting.
Before the call, look up the company online. Make sure you understand what they do and other basic information. Then, dig a little deeper. See if you can find any projects they’ve done that particularly interest you. Take note of charity work they do. During your phone interview, you’ll want to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework by asking a couple of good, detailed questions. Give them kudos for something you liked. People love to talk about their successes.
Remember, the phone interview is your chance to see if you would be interested in working for this company. It’s not just them judging you. Be friendly but professional. Give yourself a quick pep talk if you have to and look over your resume. You want to come across as confident and not desperate (even if you are).
Okay, it’s time to give yourself some tough love. Is your look up-to-date for this midlife career change? If you had a phone interview, that means an in-person meeting could be next. Get a haircut and go shopping. Pay attention to what people are wearing on the company website. That will clue you in to how they dress. Accessories can be key. How skinny should your tie be if you wear one? What’s trending in handbags? What styles of shoes are professionals wearing today?
Don’t automatically assume you should wear a full suit. Figure out what the dress code would likely be for the job and go for one notch above it.
Giving yourself a makeover, even if it’s nothing big, can help you boost your confidence. When you look good, you feel good and you’ll show it.
Your face-to-face job interview
You passed the phone interview and now they want to meet you face-to-face. That’s great! Just like you did for the phone interview, you’ll want to brush up on your knowledge of the company. If you know who’s going to be interviewing you, see what you can find out about them on LinkedIn. You might find something interesting that can lead to some friendly conversation that sets you apart from the crowd.
If it's been awhile since you last interviewed, consider brushing up on your skills with an interview coach from TopInterview so you walk into the interview room with confidence.
The job market may seem daunting when changing careers at 40 and facing ageism, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You have built up two decades of experiences, both professional and personal that can help you take that next step in your career. You’ve got this.
Let TopResume help you write the next chapter of your career. Here’s how.
TopInterview: How to Combat Ageism During a Job Interview