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Ask the Expert: How to Stand Out in Your Job Search
Susan Weinstock, AARP Vice President for Financial Resilience, is here to answer your questions on how to stand out in your job search, whether you’re looking to change jobs or start working again after a break. You bring expertise, maturity and experience to the workplace. Put it all to use with the help of AARP’s custom tools, services and expert advice.
Participation is easy! Simply ask your question by replying below.
Learn and Earn! Ask a question of our experts to earn 50 points awarded via code emailed to you after you participate (one entry per week given points). Ends January 13.
Good afternoon, everyone, this concludes our session with AARP Expert Susan Weinstock. We want to thank each and every one of you for your questions. The discussion is now closed and will remain available for viewing.
Just wanted to remind participants about the upcoming Online Career Summit on January 26 from 1-4 pm ET. This is another chance to hear from the experts and offers the opportunity to talk to a career coach as well as network with other participants. Be sure to register here: www.aarp.org/onlinecareersummit.
In addition, we invite you to check out the AARP Skills Builder for WorkSM (aarp.org/WorkSkills) to help you gain in-demand skills that can give you an edge in today’s job market. You can choose a free course to get started. Veterans, members of the military and their spouses may access our new AARP Veterans & Military Spouse Job Center (aarp.org/VetsJobCenter) and take the Veterans Career Advantage course for free!
Thanks again and we hope to see you again in the AARP Online Community.
@bsavoca Thanks for your question - lots of older workers who have years of work experience struggle with this. Generally, it's best to try to just go back 15 years, although what's most important is how your experience fits with the job description. Make sure to read that job description really carefully. I would recommend going through it with a highlighter and finding the key words that are included in the job description. Then take your resume and ensure that those keywords you found are included in your resume. This is a really important step as it will help to ensure that your resume is seen by a human being and not dumped because it didn't fit the algorithm. If you have experience that is older than 15 years but is relevant to the job description, then go ahead and include it. Otherwise, I would leave it out.
Hope this helps! Best wishes for your success.
@bsavoca It depends on the industry that you're applying to. As a general rule, tailor your resume according to the job description and candidate qualifications. Don't use your resume to flaunt your tenure and expertise. Sure, you may have 40+ years of experience, but that might indicate to them that you're overqualified and/or expensive. Why not include only the most relevant experience and job performance results, especially for sales? Anymore, there is no need to list irrelevant jobs in chronological order. Regardless, sales or other, they are looking for someone who can deliver results right away!
@astinziano Thanks for your question. I'm a big fan of local libraries - my first job in high school was working at my local library!
Certainly all local libraries will have books on optimizing your job search and other advice books that could be very helpful. Libraries also usually offer free internet service, so if that's not available to you at home, the library is a great place to get online. Some libraries offer career services assistance and may sponsor job search help, so I would recommend contacting your local library to see what is available. Good luck!
@MichaelV686823 Thanks for your question. Lots of folks struggle with this, but the good news is that you bring a lot to the table that employers value. We know that older workers are extremely proficient in soft skills like collaboration, teamwork, listening, empathy, and problem solving. Employers tell us how much they value and need these skills in their workforce. I would highlight these in your cover letter (use your resume to highlight your accomplishments).
You may want to participate in our upcoming Online Career Summit on Jan. 26. We have over 100 employers signed up who are interested in hiring older workers. Go to www.aarp.org/onlinecareersummit to sign up. Best of luck in your search!
@MarlaD513436 I love the idea of making a career change and fixing your resume to reflect that. You may want to draft your new resume and then submit it to AARP's Resume Advisor for review www.aarp.org/resume. Top Resume will review and critique your resume for FREE, so that should help you on your way. Best of luck in your new career!
The one question that always stumps me, Is where do you see yourself in 5 years? Now, in College or somewhere, someone told me to say to be where you are sitting now, but maybe I don't want to be a boss or owner, and I'm single, all I could think of was to be married and have children, lol but, on the other hand they may want someone to travel so that could hurt. It did in our family, my parents were divorced so his office made him work long hours , travel etc. all the time because he didn't have a family to get home too! I know thinking to far ahead, but I always looked at the big picture, before the way to get there. Why waste time if it's unnecessary?
@LisaW744418 This is a great question for older workers. We've been in the workforce for a long time and maybe we just want to get a job and stay in that position. In an interview you may want to focus on your interest in working in that particular organization and that you are excited about the opportunity the position you are applying for will bring. You want to take the time to hone your skills and do really great work. I think giving a positive answer like this should work.
@d953405f Hello and thanks for this great question. Have you thought about volunteering? I have a friend who got back into the workforce this way after she stayed at home to raise her kids. She volunteered at a hospital and has been a worker in the health care field ever since. You may want to contact your local hospital(s) to see what sort of volunteer opportunities they offer. Good luck!
We will have over 100 employers participating, all of whom are interested in hiring older workers. You can pose questions to them and learn more about what positions they have open.
@keatchie Thanks for your question. I hope the resume review was helpful!
Seems like your best bet is going to be using your network. I've seen stats that up to 85% (!) of jobs are filled through networking. I know it's hard with the pandemic to network, but try using your social media contacts and your friends and relatives to see if they know of any openings or can help you schedule a call with a company that interests you. Having someone who already works at a company who can push for your hire can make a big difference. Hope this helps and best of luck!
@Mes64 this is such a great question right now. So many folks have gaps in their work history and want to figure out how to get back to work. In your case, have you thought about volunteering? Seems like this would be a way for you to get back in the game, build your skills, and start building your network. Perhaps you could volunteer at a local hospital, clinic, or school? You also might want to think about focusing on the alumni network at your school. Some of these networks are very robust and you may be able to get some help from them.
Good luck. Pediatric nurses are so important!!
Thanks for the question @ChiquitaP635968! I would suggest focusing on your experience and accomplishments that are relevant to the job you are applying for. Demonstrate to employers that you have the skills that they need. In fact, we just did some survey research with employers (to be released soon) and it showed that experience is more important than credentials in evaluating a candidate.
You've got this!
Well @cherih230180, you are in luck. Microsoft Word has resume templates that you can use. Once you are in Word, go to File, then New. In the search box, type Resume or Cover Letter and you will see templates that can get you started.
I would suggest listing out all of your past experience and then deciding what you want to include. Focus on your accomplishments, not just responsibilities. And don't forget, volunteer work counts as well!
I hope this is helpful.
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