Financial Literacy - Careers
6 tips for midcareer job seekers

Use networking

Social networks such as LinkedIn, MySpace, Spoke, Twitter and others are rapidly becoming valuable tools for job seekers looking to make new contacts or re-establish older ones.

On these networks, members create profiles that summarize their professional experience, interests and accomplishments. More importantly, the sites often provide a conduit for obtaining inside contact information -- something you ordinarily don't get from a job board.

"With networking, the advantage is somebody suggested that a company representative contact you, and that puts you in a better position than if you came in off the street," career adviser and author Jan Cannon says. "It gives you a contact so you can send your resume to the right person."

LinkedIn alone claims more than 35 million members in more than 200 countries worldwide. Although you can market yourself effectively through these Web sites, it's also important to show up at career fairs or other social functions.

"There's something to be said for face-to-face networking as well," says Deborah Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP.

"The ability to talk about the skills that you bring to a job and how you can bring value to the job makes more of an impact than merely presenting yourself on LinkedIn," she says.

Joining a trade-specific professional group or reconnecting with college classmates via an alumni association are also excellent ways to network.

Don't forget to reach out to family, friends and former co-workers. The more extensive your network, the sooner you'll find a job.

Prepare for the interview

The longer it's been since your last job interview, the more preparation you'll need. Many interviewers have gravitated away from the traditional format toward one that is more behavioral.

For example, if you're applying for a management position, the interviewer might ask questions that assess how you might react in certain situations rather than asking about what you did for a previous employer.

"You may be asked a question like, 'Tell me about a time that you had to handle a poor performer? How did you handle it? What tools did you use to handle it and what was the outcome?'" says Deborah Russell, director of workforce issues at AARP.

This type of situational interview paints a better picture of how you are going to handle the job, she says.

"That behavioral model is what many older workers, or workers in general, are faced with when they go in for interviews today," Russell says.

Most hiring managers know that age discrimination is illegal. But questions that may seem slightly "ageist" still get asked. If you have to field such a question, it's best not to overreact. 

The best strategy is to have a well-prepared game plan on how to respond to such questions long before you get called for an actual interview, says Jim Nanjo, a spokesman for Senior Employment Resources in Virginia.

To that end, he coaches his clients on how to handle various interview scenarios by role playing with groups of three or more people. The practice, he says, prepares job seekers on how to answer off-kilter questions in a positive manner.

A well-prepared interviewee can deflect age-related questions by emphasizing skills that are up to date or talking about situations when he or she worked with younger people or collaborated successfully with them on projects.

If the questions really bother you, ask yourself if you really want to work for a company that makes such inquiries.

While deft interview skills are a big help, you won't get far if your wardrobe looks like it was borrowed from the set of "Cheers."

Physical appearance is just as important as your interview skills. It's likely that the person interviewing you might be many years younger and could be your future boss.


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