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  • Lori A. Jazvac

Powerful Strategies for Job Search in Mid-Life: Finding a Meaningful Career

You will likely change roles a few times during your career (even though you may not want to have to look for another role again).

And it’s quite likely that you’ll undertake at least one — and probably two or three — job searches after the age of 50.

The rapidly ever-changing world of work and the myriad of forces today continue to impact our work lives. It's important to be proactive at all times with a strategic career plan.

Encore Career: Finding work that matters

Thousands of professionals 55 and older are embarking on second-act careers. In Marc Freeman's book, Encore: Finding Work That Matters in the Second Half of Life, he refers to 'encore career' as a new stage of work between the middle years and true senior age.

In fact, more than 80% of Americans over age 50 say work will continue to be part of their life throughout what used to be retirement years, according to a 2013 survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

People are working longer: Financial stability & well-being

Nowadays, people are healthier, more educated, and have a longer life expectancy than previous generations — which increases their likelihood of staying in the labour force. People are working later due to financial stability and a sense of vitality.

Further, there is an upward trend in Baby Boomers supporting their “adult” children into their late 20s or 30s, as well as becoming primary caretakers of grandchildren or aging parents.

Tackling ageism as a common concern

Age discrimination is a barrier that exists even in subtle forms and impacts professionals, even those as young as 35. Here is what employers need to remember: reports, according to Barry Witkin, CEO of Prime50 Employment Services, "Employers still think that they are dealing with a 50+ person that existed 50 years ago and not realizing that the 50+ person of today is younger looking, healthier, has longevity, and wants to continue their careers."

However, you can gauge traits associated with ageism by:

• Being optimistic and flexible to managing change

• Embracing new ideas and business approaches

• Being willing to accept new challenges

• Being open to learning and upgrading knowledge and skills

• Embracing modern technologies, computers, smart-phones,

tablets, email, social media, and other innovative tools

• Gauging the belief of deserving special consideration (due to

life status) -- modelling an inclusive, free-thinking approach

Your brand matters: Perceive & market your age as an asset

How you present yourself on paper, during the interview, and on the job, can help sway a prospective employer’s perceptions about your age.

Instead of believing that your age will serve as a barrier to attaining an encore career — market your age as a plus. Get up to speed on the latest technology and market trends.

Combat ageism by being physically fit, energetic, and positive in attitude. Remain at the top of your game through effective brand management. Reshift your perspective.

The unique path to becoming an entrepreneur

Want to turn a cherished hobby or interest into a career? If you always wanted to be an entrepreneur, self-employment, freelance, or contract work is an attractive option for an Encore Career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that workers in older age groups have higher rates of self-employment.

Successful Encore Career Tips

In her book, What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job, Kerry Hannon offers the following advice on securing a successful encore career:

Reorganize your life. Change can be stressful. When

you’re physically fit, you have more energy. Having your

finances in order and debt reduced allows you more

options to achieve your desired goals and dreams.

Conduct solid research. Check out websites to get an idea

of what others are doing and what jobs are out there now.

Check out other sites:,,, and Investigate

fields that have a growing demand for workers.

Have a mental picture of your vision. Post a photograph

on your office wall of what your vision might look like.

Journal your goals. Create a vision board. Stay focused.

Get things moving –– take small steps. Make a phone call

to ask for advice or reach out with an email to set a lunch

date to discuss possibilities.

Be practical. You may need to upgrade your skills and

education. Take one class at a time. You can add more

classes as your direction and motivation become clearer.

Avoid being set on a 'must-have salary'. You may need to

take a pay cut in some cases, at least initially. Understand

the tradeoffs. Be willing to negotiate and/or compromise.

Incorporate a Modern Résumé and Solid Job Search

It’s quite possible you never had to create a new résumé, especially if you were with one company for many years. Resume trends and standards have greatly changed. Failing to comply with these changes may raise red flags about your age.

Evaluate Your Résumé: What Does it Communicate?

Does the content and format of your résumé shout: “I’m old and want to retire”....

Or does it convey: “I’m alive, have a lot to offer, and am ready to adopt new challenges!”....

Here are a few résumé recommendations:

Opt for a professional résumé. Select a Master Resume

Writer to customize your résumé from scratch using a

specific strategy to highlight your value and expertise. Avoid

using templates. Generic resumes don't work.

Avoid telling your life history. An effective résumé is not an

obituary of your career; it's a marketing brochure that sells

your unique brand.

Focus on the last 10-15 years of your career. Eliminate

age-revealing information (e.g. graduating from college in

1973 or including roles from long ago). Eliminate dates in

education where possible.

Use language that conveys energy and enthusiasm.

Instead of “seasoned professional,” substitute “dynamic

change agent” who “transformed operations, ignited sales,

pushed through new initiatives…”

Showcase a hard-hitting summary. This gives the reader

a snapshot of your experience and unique offerings.

Example of Summary Profile:

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR | High-Growth Transportation

Expert in Change Leadership, Team Building & Revenue Expansion

Proactive, multi-skilled leader with extensive expertise in directing all aspects of Transportation Operations and championing diverse teams while controlling budgets to $100M.

Recognized as the driving force behind building and growing a local transportation company to represent the industry leader in the Ontario region. Savvy negotiator, instrumental in rapidly accelerating sales growth while maintaining the best in-class safety and environmental record and reducing costs.

Constructs strategic fuel plans that exceed customers’ needs. Establishes harmonious relationships with staff, customers, and key stakeholders based on trust, integrity, and mutual respect.

Be concise, yet compelling with results. Summarize your

job responsibilities in two or three sentences. Showcase

bulleted achievement statements using metrics that illustrate

how you impacted the bottom line or drove improvements.

Show your reader that you are flexible, manage change,

and accept challenges. Highlight projects you initiated,

problems you tackled, and cross-functional teams you

collaborated with or championed.

* Show your reader that you embrace technology:

Include your email address (not your family’s or spouse’s),

Avoid using inappropriate account names such as


Include your cell phone number.

Outline your computer skills (at least, MS Office). Learn

new computer skills and refine your existing ones.

Include the vanity URL to your LinkedIn profile. No

LinkedIn profile? Invest in having your LI profile

customized. Leverage your resume and LI as brand

marketing tools that work together to enhance your success.

* Demonstrate that you're committed to continuing learning:

Include a professional training and development section

Highlight what is relevant to your targeted job: add credit and

non-credit classes, company-sponsored training, conferences

and workshops — even industry journals subscribed or books

read of industry-recognized authors.

Outline professional member associations. Join

associations for great networking prospects.

Include links to articles you have published or to your

professional blog. It's never too late to start writing

and sharing your ideas.

Other Possible Options

Consider starting on a project basis or as a consultant, which may lead to full-time work. Another way to get your foot in the door is by volunteering with a charity or non-profit organization. This often leads to securing work with an employer who appreciates your knowledge, skill sets, and work ethic.

Final Tips

--> Be proactive with your job search and keep your skills marketable. Ensure that your resume is modern and effectively positions you for your next career move, and keep networking.

--> Choose a work environment that aligns with your values. Target employers who appreciate your uniqueness and well-rounded career experiences!

--> Don't procrastinate your job search. Research shows that jobseekers who start a job search immediately tend to be more successful in landing a new job. And your personal network is a key piece to securing your next job. So don’t hesitate to use it!

For assistance with your career transition, contact Creative Horizons Communications, catering to jobseekers of all fields and levels with resume writing, career coaching, and more!

Think creatively and visualize a new career horizon. Visit

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