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Job Search Advantage of Being Over 50

By Susan P. Joyce

Because of your age and experience, you have many more options and a much better network of colleagues than younger workers.

The network of people who know and respect you, a network built up over the years, will help you succeed in your job search.

Many jobs are never posted publicly.  So, your large network is a very big advantage!  Employee referrals are most employers NUMBER ONE source of external hires (not internal promotions).

Chances are people in your network are either also looking for work, or they are - or know - someone who is looking for good help. So, you can help, not "use," each other to move ahead with your careers and renew old friendships, too.

That network is gold, right now, and it's something that younger workers usually don't have!

Networking Options

Take advantage of that large network you have to track down that next job. Contact the people that you know and/or have worked with in your career.

You are not begging for a job! You really are just looking for advice on what companies are good places to work, what companies are growing (and hiring), and where there might be opportunities for you.  When you meet someone, don't even bring a copy of your resume (you can offer to send it to them after the meeting - if they are interested).

You are simply asking colleagues and friends for advice and leads. Ask them where they would look for a job if they were in your shoes right now.  Which employers offer a great next place to work?  Which employers would be best avoided?


  • By age 50, you know many people in your industry, profession, and/or community. If you haven't already contacted some of these people, do it now!
  • Guide to Job Search Networking offers many articles about networking, including how to find your network, how to help others in your network, and how to be a good networker yourself.
  • Professional networking site LinkedIn (free) has become very useful in finding former colleagues and helping you reconnect. Build out your LinkedIn Profile as a resume, connect with your friends and colleagues who are also using LinkedIn (over 400,000,000 people are), exchange recommendations, and join LinkedIn Groups to demonstrate your knowledge and connect with more people.

    Do a search in LinkedIn on the employer's name and see who turns up. If you have a specific person you want to reach, do a search on that person's name. LinkedIn will help you find and stay in touch with these people. Job-Hunt Social Media and Job Search and LinkedIn for Job Search experts have written some great articles about leveraging the social networks which are very helpful.
  • If you've helped anyone get started in your industry or profession, helped them with their job search, or done them a favor, that's another group of contacts to explore. Again, LinkedIn may help you find those people.
  • Did/do you belong to any school or business "alumni" groups? Colleges and universities have had them for years, particularly the schools supported by donations, and now groups are developing based on common background working for a specific employer. Contact your schools (high school through graduate schools) to see what alumni services they offer.

    To find employer alumni groups, Google "former employees" (with the quotes) and add the company name or check the company Website for "alumni" or "retiree" information. Read Secret Networking Weapon: Corporate Alumni Networking Groups.
  • LinkedIn also has over 2 million Groups, including all kinds of "alumni" (both college and corporate) as well as special interest groups for industries, professions, technologies, locaqtions, and more.

    You can start or comment on "discussions" within those groups, if you are a member, and they can be an excellent way to make yourself visible to recruiters and potential employers. They're also a great way to get back in touch with people you may have forgotten you knew. You can also start a group if one for your former employer or special interest doesn't exist.
  • Did/do you belong to any clubs, professional or industry organizations, Chambers of Commerce, or other collection of people who meet with each other on a regular basis? Keep going to those meetings; visit the web sites. Some organizations have jobs posted for their members (or by members for the public).
  • Job search support groups have popped up everywhere, often associated with a church or Jewish Community Center (which usually provide non-denominational support). It's another way to extend your network as well as to get help staying "up" and learning new things about your local job market. 

These are NOT "informational interviews," and you don't need to feel humble. You are just staying in touch colleagues and members of your business network. You may have helped them in the past, and you may help them again in the future.

These are just colleague-to-colleague discussions. Business as usual!

Job Sites

If your network doesn't have any good leads at the moment, you can always check out sites on the Web for opportunities.

  • There are also job sites specifically for people over 50, like Workforce50 and SeniorJobBank where employers are actually seeking reliable people with experience and a good work ethic.
  • Someone with several years of management experience can look for a job at the executive level, if that's interesting to you. Sites like Ritesite (fee) specialize in those senior level positions. Also very useful for employed and unemployed executives are ExecuNet (fee) which provides face-to-face groups as well as online resources.
  • Every state in the U.S. has a state employment office that offers help for people out of work, including training and job counseling.  If you are a Vet, you may be entitled to additional support, too. 
  • Check out which is a giant set of online classified ads sites, organized by location (city, state, or country).  It lists both jobs and "gigs" (which are short term jobs). The postings are in reverse chronological order, with the newest at the top. Pick your location out of the states and countries in the right columns of the home page.

    See Job-Hunt's free 8-page e-booklet 20-Minute Guide to Using Craigslist to Find a Job for ideas about leveraging craigslist and also some strategies for identifying and avoiding the scams that get posted.
  • Giant job board can be extremely useful if you want to take a look to see what's available "in the market." Indeed collects job postings from employers, newspapers, and association sites as well as from job sites. See Job-Hunt's Guide to Using Indeed to Find a Job.

Don't be discouraged! A job search is never easy, but you'll make it. Your network, knowledge and experience, and solid skills and work ethic will see you through to a successful conclusion.

Good luck!

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.

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