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How to Recover After Job Loss at Over 50

by Barbara Bean-Mellinger

Losing a job is worrisome at any age, but even more so after you're turned 50. Many employers might be hesitant to hire an older worker, preferring instead to hire younger, less expensive workers who can be easily molded to fit the company culture. Still, a large number of employers appreciate the broad range of skills and experience an older worker offers. The secret is to find these employers, get them to pay attention and convince them you're the one to hire.

Shape Up

The first day after losing your job, put on your exercise gear. Exercise makes you feel better physically, and the endorphins it sends to your brain help you maintain a positive attitude. If you haven't exercised in awhile, start with a long walk every other day and progress to vigorous exercise five days a week. Being fit makes you look and feel younger. Now that you have the time to exercise and pay attention to your diet, seize the opportunity.

Reinvent Yourself

Before you start job hunting, give thought to what type of work you'd really like to do. Chances are you've worked at one type of job for many years. Even if you loved your work, maybe it's time to do something else. If it isn't apparent to you, write down your interests and passions, and research jobs that incorporate them. Reinventing yourself can be exciting if you choose to look at it that way. Don't listen to people who tell you you're too old to change your life. On the contrary, trying new things keeps you young.

Tailor Your Resume

To make your resume stand out from the others in the stack, adjust it for the job. Instead of a long list of your past jobs, highlight the accomplishments that apply to the job you want. For example, explain how you solved problems or brought in more business for previous employers. If you're applying to a posted job opening, use the exact keywords and phrases from the post in your resume and cover letter. Companies often scan resumes automatically for select keywords, and the resumes with the most keywords often rise to the top of the stack. If you are interested in working for a specific company, learn all you can about it and tailor your resume to fit the company and job opening.

Search Smart

Job hunting is now your full-time job. To be successful, you should spend at least four hours searching every day. Check online job boards for the industry you want to work in, such as Dice for tech jobs or Idealist for non-profit opportunities. Check out AARP's annual list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. When you email your resume to companies and search firms, tweak it so it fits the particular job or company. Network with both professional and personal contacts and tell them what you're looking for and how thrilled you are to be starting something new. Use social media such as LinkedIn to find and connect with professionals who can tip you to job openings.

Get Help

If your job hunt is stagnating, get help sooner rather than later. Consult with career planners who can help pinpoint what you really want to do. If you're not getting interviews, consider hiring a professional resume writer knowledgeable in keyword placement. If you're getting interviews but no job offers, it could be the way you're perceived in interviews. Practice interviewing in front of a mirror or with peers you trust, or consult a placement service with success placing over-50 workers. If the process is giving you anxiety, practice yoga or meditation to calm and rejuvenate you.

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