Odd Jobs. Old Jobs.

By Robert Goldman

November 21, 2019 5 min read

A young person first entering the job market faces many challenges. Until you learn certain very important rules for job hunting, your search is likely to be frustrating and even disheartening, which could lead to disappointment and depression. This is something I care about deeply.

No, I don't.

Not this week, anyway.

This week I am concerned about the job-hunting challenges faced by older people. So is Kourtney Whitehead, the author of "2 Critical Mistakes Older Job Seekers Must Avoid and How to Fix Them," a scary post on Forbes.

Of course, there are many more than two mistakes that hinder the older job seeker. Simply being old is a major mistake. How did you let this happen? Not being born rich enough to never have to work in the first place is another major boo-boo. But let's ignore these blunders and turn to the mistakes on which the post focuses.

To start, "old" is a relative descriptor. Twenty-five is ancient to a 12-year-old, but 90 is young to a 95-year-old, especially when your lumbago is acting up and your gout is kicking in and you don't want to leave the couch because you might miss an episode of "Ellen." But let's not talk about me.

"By 2024, 1 in 4 people in the workplace will be over 55," the U.S. Bureau of Labor reports. And considering today's puny salaries, Whitehead is certainly right to add "with many years still ahead of them."

With another study showing that 36% of older employees believe that "their age had prevented them from getting a job since turning 40," it becomes critical to not make mistakes.

To be specific:

Mistake No. 1 is "not aligning your career story to the jobs of the future."

To avoid this misstep, you're advised to carefully review ads for the types of jobs that are available. If you notice that positions for video store managers, lamplighters, gandy dancers and workplace humor columnists are few and far between, it may behoove you to remove these skills from your resume. (On second thought, better keep gandy dancer. It's coming back.)

In place of these outmoded jobs and obsolete skills, you will want to "see where your current experiences may overlap with new technology or where you simply need to start using the correct descriptions for the experiences you have."

Above all, as much as possible, use "digital."

For example, your experience as a switchboard operator could easily be described as a "digital developer of communication modes." (You used your finger to dial, didn't you?) And your long and successful career as an elevator operator can be re-imagined as a "digital vertical transportation entrepreneur." (You used your finger to push the buttons, didn't you?)

In addition, just throw in as many random "digitals" as you can. As in "10 years of digital experience in digital waste management digital in large digital coffee room digital."

It makes no sense, but remember, it's computers that read resumes now, and what do they know?

Mistake No. 2 is "subtly revealing that you haven't kept up with technology."

In other words, when you meet with the recruiter, don't point at that grey box on their desk with a screen and keyboard attached and ask, "What is that?"

On the positive side, consider bringing your own technology into the modern age. Your AOL email address suggests that you are living in the digital past. It could be time to switch your account to MindSpring. Also, leave your Motorola Telstar brick phone at home. (Yes, you were in the technology vanguard in 1995, but times — and phones — have moved on.)

If you're using an old typeface on your resume, like Times New Roman, convert the document to a groovy, new typeface, like Kardashian Gothic or Bieber Condensed. Finally, Whitehead advises that you join LinkedIn, which is "no longer optional for job seekers."

While you are on the LinkedIn site, take a look for people who can recommend you. Since everyone you've worked with recently will never endorse you, reach back for people who knew you while you were young and promising. Your kindergarten teacher would be a good candidate. I'm sure they'll recommend you for a position as a Senior DevOps Manager at Google based on your skills at duck, duck, goose.

And "don't be shy about reaching out to people you haven't spoken to in years."

They're older, too, now. Chances are, they've completely forgotten why they don't like you.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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