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Terri Benincasa
Boomer Expert ... Business and Personal Coaching

Terri is Founder & CEO of Benincasa & Associates, Inc. a unique Transitions Coaching company offering both Personal and Business services with a specialty in all things Boomer. She is known nationally as a Boomer Expert, and is a proud Boomer herself.

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Tips for Boomers back on the Job Market

We've been working our way up in the same industry, and often at the same job, for over three decades, ready to make all that sacrifice and time worthwhile as we contemplate retirement in just a few more years….Then the lay-offs hit like the proverbial ton of bricks, and our lives drastically change, literally overnight.

Our first thought: “I am too old to get back out in the job market, and at my age, who will hire me?! It was because of my salary level that I was laid off in the first place…”

Well, my fellow Boomers, not only is there much reason to hold off on the despair, but you have been given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take all your high-end skills, extensive knowledge, and decades of experience, and apply them to not just a new job, but a new career track, and to something about which you are passionate.

Here are some choices for you to consider prior to throwing yourself feet first into a time-consuming job search:

•  Staying in your current industry if that is truly your passion

•  Moving to a different industry that is thriving in this economic time – they can really use your capacities

•  Following a long-held but untapped passion even if it doesn't pay what you've been making (for example, working for a non-profit that has always been in your heart, or teaching)

•  Starting your own business, whether a franchise or one you create yourself.

For purposes of this article, however, I'll focus on continuing to work for someone else; we have other articles on starting your own business and will make them available in future columns.

Tips to ready yourself for the job market

Before you get started:

Don't hide your layoff or pending layoff from others. There's no shame in being laid off. In fact, with unemployment rates at highs not seen since the 1970's, chances are you already know others who have either been laid off or are facing the possibility of a layoff.

In addition to the moral support you may receive, letting others know you've been laid off could also result in others helping you with your job search. If your company has announced future layoffs but not yet determined who will be staying and who will be going, let others know you could possibly be let go. Sharing your situation with others could open doors you would otherwise never know about if you kept your situation to yourself.

Job Search for Boomers 101:

  1. Revamp your resume. Most Boomers have been working at their current job for many years. While that's great from a stability standpoint, it means your resume will need a major makeover. Focus less on dates and “job responsibilities” and more on a). measurable accomplishments, and b). highly coveted and transferrable skills. Unemployment rates are expected to continue rising throughout 2010, so job openings will get more applicants than ever before. Boomers can use their experience and versatility to their advantage in such a competitive job market.
  2. Work on your interview skills. For the majority of Boomers, it's been a long time since your last job interview. Performing well in an interview is a skill that is honed with practice; do this with “mock” interviews with colleagues/friends you trust, take interviews for jobs you in which you have little interest just for the practice; many companies are handling their initial elimination interviews by phone, so practice phone interviewing as well. Finally, do your research; know all you can about the company prior to your interview, so you can ask questions relevant to them specifically vs. general industry or job responsibility questions.
  3. Try new things. Don't limit yourself to the position you just left. Flexibility is a huge asset (and the lack thereof a myth about us that isn't true but we must dispel nonetheless), so be flexible and you'll like the results

And here are simple Do's/Don'ts that you can follow to ward off age discrimination and land a great job - no plastic surgery or hair dye required…

•  Don't emphasize age:
If you believe that your age is an issue, then it will be. Do not include your birth date, graduation date or more than 10 years of experience on your resume. Do not list out-dated software, hardware or systems experience. During the interview, sell the benefits of “you” to a potential employer. Do not spend the interview defending your age or trying to convince the interviewer that you have the health and stamina to do the job; younger job seekers would never mention these points, so don't you do it

•  Do Be clear about what you want/qualify for:
Applicant, know thyself; where do you want to work/what do you want to do/in what other industries can your skills/knowledge be applied? Then, apply for jobs for which you are qualified for; if you are either over-qualified or under-qualified, you're just setting yourself up for rejection and disappointment

•  Do Show you have technology savvy:
When applying for a job, apply online or email the potential employer directly, using a resume that is online/email friendly. This indicates that you have the basic technical aptitude needed to do the job

•  Don't be condescending (whether wittingly or un):
The vast majority of HR/hiring managers will be younger than you, so do not intimidate them with your age and experience. I have known frustrated Boomers to actually make statements like: “when you were in grade school, I was managing a team of 30 people” or “the work ethic from my generation is much better than the younger generations'”…not good. You want to make the interviewer comfortable with you and come away with the opinion that s/he can manage you without any problems

•  Do sell your current life situation benefits:
Older job seekers offer employers many benefits over their younger counterparts, like proven experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and lack of family responsibilities (small children) that may interfere with job performance. Another myth about older workers is that we have more health problems than our younger applicants; this is not true in fact – from sports injuries to birthing and children's health problems, younger workers take far more leave than we do – find a tactful way to get that across (without violating bullet #1…).

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