How do I find a job after age 50?

A guide to getting your groove back

Know what you want. If you’ve applied for thousands of positions and are ready to be anything from a director to a security guard, watch out. That lack of commitment to a particular career could be coming through on your résumé and in your interviews, and employers could be worrying that you’d leave the job within months—or worse, that you’d stay and just go through the motions.

Forget about being over- or underqualified. Many job candidates of a certain age are faced with a dispiriting paradox: they hear that their long experience makes them overqualified, but they secretly believe they’re underqualified, lacking a complete understanding of today’s technologies and business culture. Instead of trying to resolve this paradox, think in terms of strengths (what you can teach) and weaknesses (what you can learn). Then consider how the companies you’d like to work for might use someone with your strengths and weaknesses.

Play up your enthusiasm for learning. Present yourself as someone whose career is far from peaking. Highlight that weekend course you took, the trade journals you subscribe to, your membership in professional organizations, your affiliations with LinkedIn groups, and any internship or apprenticeship you’ve completed. Throw yourself into studying subjects that interest you.

Look into tax deductions. You can deduct many job-search expenses— including career counseling and coaching, as well as professional résumé writing—even if you never land a new job. Check Publication 529 from the IRS for details.

Cliff Flamer, A96, is principal at Brightside Résumés in San Francisco.

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