Mid-life career changers:  I’m sure you feel frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to you in today’s world. Ageism is alive and well, and stereotypes lurk everywhere. Recognizing the current reality is difficult, yet necessary, for moving forward.

Here’s the bad news:  Mid-career adults receive fewer job offers, search for work weeks longer, and are less likely to find re-employment after losing a job, according to the American Psychological Association.

Researchers linked the struggles of mid-career professionals to employers’ perceived views about their skills versus the skills employers are looking for today.  It’s unfair, unjust, and a disgrace. And we can’t control society’s perception.

What we can control is how we react to it, difficult though it may be. If you’re a mid-life career changer, here’s how you can beat the age bias:

1.)  Know yourself.  It’s important to have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how they factor into your new career. Before beginning your job search, take a look at your mental, emotional, and physical health. Do whatever it takes to get into the right frame of mind. Rejection comes to us all, but those who have the internal resources to deal with it bounce back more quickly and easily.

2.)  Have a clear and specific target.  You may be qualified for many types of positions. You may be interested in multiple jobs. You may be willing to work for ANY organization. But these factors will all work against you. Today’s job search isn’t about what you’re qualified for or you did in the past, but what you’re looking to do in the future.

  • When asked, “What type of position are you looking for?, don’t say, “I was a communications specialist at ABC Company until they laid me off. I did editing work before that. I could write, or teach – I can even do admin work. I just need a job.”  This screams desperate – not an attractive quality.
  • Instead, try this: “I’m a content writer looking for opportunities to add a human element to my work. I’m focusing on community development and education programs and non-profits.

3.)  Update your job search and resume.  Job searching and resume content have changed dramatically in the last few years, and career development practices continue to evolve. Your lack of interviews may boil down to lack of knowledge of today’s job market.

  • If you’re in the Washington, DC Metro, contact me about attending one of my free workshops on modern resumes and job search strategies.

4.)  Be realistic.  It will probably take you longer than anticipated to find a job. Don’t waste valuable time and resources on job search methods that aren’t effective for you. If you aren’t succeeding, stop and reevaluate your process.

5.)  Tailor your resume, cover letter, and communications.  The myth of “one size fits all” definitely applies in the job search. There’s no one strategy that will work for everyone all the time, so be prepared for some trial and error to see what works best for you.  You’ll have a greater likelihood of success in your job search if you concentrate on roles that play to your strengths. For example, if you perform best face-to-face, attend more networking events. If writing is your strength, devote more time to personalized e-mails to potential employers.

6.)  Choose the right employers.  Some employers welcome mid-career professionals due to their unique skills. Research is the key to uncovering who they are! Additionally, your odds of success may increase if your pursue opportunities off the beaten path. Smaller, lesser-known companies may be thrilled to bring on someone with your skill-set!