Does it sometimes seem like your age or experience is working against you in your job search? Some employers may have reservations, but many see that hiring and retaining older workers will be vital to staying competitive, especially if you’re a veteran. Whether you’re considering a new job in the same field or looking to make a career switch, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don’t Let the Bias Stop You
Many older workers perceive that they are passed up for jobs, promotions or pay raises because of their age. This practice is not only illegal but simply untrue. As a veteran, you are a hot commodity on the job market. Often, veterans are considered valuable employees in the workplace as they tend to hold advanced skills in management, organization, task fulfillment, punctuality, adaptability, commitment and team-building.
You likely have plenty of skills, knowledge and work experience that employers seek. You also may have a mature sense of what you value — and don’t value — in your career. Remember that you have an essential skillset and are entitled to help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if you face such discrimination. Take advantage of free in-person assistance.
Update Your Resume
It is imperative for experienced workers to custom-fit their resumes for each job opening. Two decades or more of professional skills is a lot to draw from. When your resume is filled with extensive experience and military service, it can be hard to know what to work on. However, employers won’t sift through it to find the gems. Instead, analyze your skills and emphasize those related to the job you are applying for. Minimize or even drop off minimally related work history. Tips you may want to include in your updated resume include:
- Write a combination resume to emphasize skills and accomplishments and downplay the length of your career. Cluster your skills under three or four categories relevant to the open position: leadership, teamwork, innovation, computer skills, communication skills, supervisory skills and so on. Briefly list your employment history for the past 1-15 years, citing two to three significant accomplishments for each job.
- List where you went to college or completed job training and any degrees you’ve earned, but not the years you received them.
- Leave out irrelevant jobs you’ve held, particularly those from more than 15 years ago.
- Include your social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.) in the contact information on your resume. Potential employers and networking contacts increasingly use these to identify and learn about job seekers.
Utilize Veterans Job Search Networks
As a veteran, you have access to the Veterans Employment Center (VEC), the federal government’s single authoritative internet source for connecting transitioning service members, veterans and their families to meaningful career opportunities. The VEC is the first government-wide product that brings together a reputable cadre of public and private employers with real job opportunities. It provides transitioning service members, veterans and their families with the tools to translate their military skills into plain language and build a profile that can be shared — in real-time — with employers who have made a public commitment to hire veterans.
Through the VA, you can access job search tools and career opportunities that may not be available to the rest of the public. Websites you can utilize to help you with your employment search:
- The VEC lists upcoming veteran career fairs: va.gov/careers-employment
- USAJOBS houses all federal employment listings: usajobs.gov
- S. Department of Treasury offers job opportunities and non-paid internship opportunities to wounded warriors and veterans: treasury.gov/careers/Pages/veterans.aspx
- VAforVets includes job listings at the Department of Veterans Affairs: vaforvets.va.gov
Remember, you can visit your local VA for more information about job opportunities and career help.
Take Advantage of Free In-Person Assistance
Along with the assistance you can receive through veteran-specific programs, you can get in-person support through programs sponsored by the Department of Labor. You can also access free job search assistance at your local American Job Center.
The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) serves low-income, unemployed seniors. It helps subsidize part-time employment and training in community service positions that can lead to unsubsidized, private-sector jobs. There are several locations across the country. Find your closest location at careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/EmploymentAndTraining/find-older-worker-programs.aspx.
Utilize Job Banks for Older Workers
Job banks are websites where job seekers can search and apply for job openings online. They are sometimes called job boards. Some trustworthy job boards available to older job seekers include:
Remember, a legitimate job board will never ask for payment to search their database and won’t ask for your social security or national ID number online. Finding work can be difficult, but it is never impossible. Utilize your resources, and good luck!
Sources: CareerOneStop, Department of Veterans Affairs, Military.com