Job searches are never easy. When you’re just out of school, starting your career, you get turned away because of your lack of experience. Once you build up an impressive work history, you start to feel the pinch of age discrimination.

As a result, you need to have an updated strategy for career development once hit your 40th birthday. After all, about one in five workers over 40 (21%) have suffered age discrimination. Meanwhile, more than a third (36%) say that they have lost out on a job opportunity because of their age.

While these experiences are unfortunate (and often illegal), you need to be prepared for this bias. As such, take what steps you can to avoid this type of discrimination and keep your career moving forward. With that in mind, here are four job search tips for candidates over 40:

Downplay Older Experience

Sorry, no one really cares about what you did in 2007. If you’re main selling point comes from accomplishments you earned a decade or more ago, you need to update your experience. Instead, emphasize the achievements you’ve had in the last five years or so.

Part of the value you provide as an older professional comes from your wealth of experience. However, you have to weigh the relevance of events that happened while some of the people making the hiring decision were still in school.

In terms of tactics, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t include dates for your education on your resume
  • Don’t reference older work history items unless they are specifically relevant
  • Give the heaviest weight to your most recent experience

Rely on Your Network

You may face ageism if you go through the normal job-search channels. You can avoid this by skipping those channels entirely. A strong network lets you do this.

One of your advantages as an experienced worker is a long history of employment. At each of those stops along your career, you worked with people who might be in a position to help you find opportunities. Use this wealth of contacts to sidestep any bias you face.

Stay Flexible and Expand Your Skills

Don’t become overly rigid in your job search. Your career might not consist of an unbroken drive forward. You may experience detours and cul-de-sacs along the way. The best way to move forward is to stay flexible about your approach.

This includes continually upgrading your skills and improving your resume. This will help you increase your current value as a job candidate. Here are a few steps you can consider:

  • Take classes: Add to your skills with additional training. Professional certificates make a nice addition to your resume.
  • Accept part-time/contract assignments: Build experience and expand your network with less-permanent assignments.
  • Stay flexible about the jobs you’ll consider: You might have to take a step back to make a bigger leap forward. Consider the entire opportunity, rather than focus on things like job titles.

Take Control of the Situation

Yes, it can be difficult for older candidates to find a position. As a result, you might need to get creative about the next stage of your professional development. Instead of simply waiting for a job offer, take steps to create the kind of opportunity you’re looking for.

Create an employee brand

Build a reputation that precedes you into job discussions. If you’re known around the industry as successful and innovative executive, new opportunities will find you.

Target specific employers

Setting a wide net theoretically expands your possibilities. But it also means your time and effort are spread out. Instead, target companies that best suit you and focus your efforts there.

Start your own business

Don’t wait to get hired by someone else. Launch a startup or found a consulting firm. These can become the springboard for future opportunities.

Partner with a staffing firm

Let someone else do the heavy lifting. A top recruiter, like PrideStaff, can speed your executive search and put you in the perfect position to drive the next stage of your career.

Contact PrideStaff today to get started.

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