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Build Your Career Get the Job

Over 50? 5 Smart Tips for Landing a New Job

Over 50? 5 Smart Tips for Landing a New Job
Credit: BestPhotoStudio/Shutterstock

For many people, finding a new job after the age of 50 becomes more difficult. 

After losing a job, older job seekers, compared to younger counterparts, receive fewer job offers, search for weeks longer and are ultimately less likely to find re-employment, according to a new study recently published in the Psychological Bulletin.

Based on data from the U.S. government's 2014 Displaced Worker Survey, researchers discovered that job seekers over age 50 are likely to be unemployed 5.8 weeks longer than someone between the ages of 30 and 49, and 10.6 weeks longer than workers in their 20s. Additionally, the odds of being re-employed decrease by 2.6 percent for each one year increase in age.

"There's very robust evidence that as an individual moves beyond age 50, they experience a large penalty toward how quickly they will find a job," Connie Wanberg, one of the study's authors and a professor at the University of Minnesota, said in a statement.

There a variety of factors that contributing to these results. [Surprise! Older Workers Have Fewer Senior Moments ]

"The obstacles to re-employment success stem not just from employer views about older workers, but also from age-related differences in knowledge, skills and abilities and the kind of jobs people want," said Ruth Kanfer, one of the study's co-authors and a professor at Georgia Tech University. "As individuals age, their skills and abilities change and they may often seek a different type of job."

Kanfer points to construction workers who carry heavy objects as an example.

"If they change occupations or move into a different field, that is likely going to slow their search," she said.

Smaller social networks, marketplace needs, search strategies and what workers want out of a new job are among the other factors that are contributing to older workers' lack of success in finding new jobs.

To help older job seekers increase their chances of finding work, Wanberg and Kanfer offer several tips:

  • Stay current: It's critical that workers never stop trying to learn new skills. Even workers who are currently employed should look for ways to grow their skills and stay current with their industry.
  • Boost job search strategies: Older workers are often unfamiliar with the ways job searches are conducted today. It is important they comb a variety of job search websites and understand the applicant requirements and hiring trends for the type of job they're looking for.
  • Know what you're up against: Older workers should fully understand that it is possible to find a new job, it's just likely it will take a little longer than expected. Knowing this going into the process will help them stay persistent in their search.
  • Define your goals: When looking for a new job, older workers need to think about which aspects of a new job are most important to them and set clear goals and priorities to guide their search.
  • Build social networks: When aging, there is a tendency to narrow social networks, which can impact how long it takes to get a new job. It's critical to maintain and expand on social networks when getting older.

The researchers believe the study shows there is a clear need for a better understanding of how younger and older job seekers differ in their re-employment goals.

"Job loss is really difficult for older workers, many of whom have probably already been thinking about retiring or slowing down, but had not yet reached a level of financial security to permit retirement," Kanfer said. "Losing your job at this point in life creates a real conundrum - should I put myself through the strain of a job search or just retire for now?"

The study was co-authored by Darla Hamann, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, and Zhen Zhang, a professor at Arizona State University.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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