The Older Person’s Guide to Changing Careers

The Older Person’s Guide to Changing Careers

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Changing careers is towards the top of the list of life’s most stressful events, regardless of age. The need or desire to shift into a new role, on the other hand, might be daunting for older job seekers. Many experienced professionals believe they will be unfairly eliminated from the game by some enthusiastic less experienced person..


This is a real possibility however, if you manage the portions of the equation that you can control, this will be a less likely scenario. It will also feel a lot less intimidating after you’ve established control.

When it comes to changing careers as an older worker, what can and should you focus on? For beginners, try these five ideas:


  1. Maintain and Enhance Your Skills

This is maybe the most crucial piece of advice for an older job hunter. A preconception that some employers may associate with a more seasoned worker is that he or she is more likely to have outdated abilities, particularly in technology.

  You must stay current with technology in order to be a strong contender in your latter years of employment. Trends in software and software changes and you need to keep up with them.

Include your LinkedIn URL and/or Twitter handle in your email signature line, contribute information on LinkedIn on a regular basis, and establish a “Technology Skills” section on your resume to demonstrate your digital competence. Show that you’re up to date in whatever way you can.

What if you aren’t? Go to one of the many online course providers, such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, YouTube, or Coursera, and brush up on the skills you’re lacking. Don’t know where to begin? 


  1. Maintain a Fresh Appearance

Although you should never judge a book just on the basis of its cover, we all know people do this.  When it comes to first impressions, most individuals in Western culture appreciate a cover that says “vibrant” and “energetic.”

This isn’t to say you should rush out and get Botox or shop at a store that targets your grandchildren for your next interview dress or outfit. It does mean that when you begin your transition, you should assess the current state of your appearance (ask a stylish friend if you can’t give yourself an unbiased assessment) and consider refreshing any areas that may require a significant push towards today.

It does not have to be a major expense. A new haircut, a new pair of eyeglasses, or a set of new outfits will most likely go a long way. This is nothing to be terrified of. Don’t get all up over it. Take advantage of the opportunity to refresh both your appearance and your sense of well-being.


  1. Make the most of the connections you’ve already developed.

As an older job seeker, you have the following advantage: You’ve had more opportunities to meet new individuals. However, you’re more likely to have a larger network of professional contacts and allies than the less experienced person with whom you would compete. Make the most of these individuals. Getting a “in” at a company of interest is the most effective and immediate technique to become a contender for a job of interest.

If you already have a network of contacts at companies where you’d like to work, give them a call. Take them out to eat. Tell them exactly what you’re up to, what you’re searching for, and how they can help if they’re willing. (Once they’ve helped you out, be sure to offer to help them out again.)


  1. Keep Track of Your Paperwork’s Due Dates

When reviewing your resume, will decision-makers do the math on you and figure out you are not 24? Yes.   Don’t let this get the best of you. Instead, plan ahead of time. Remember that your resume is a marketing document, not your autobiography. it is a marketing document that you’ll utilize to position yourself for a specific audience and endear yourself to them.

Without going back to The Stone Ages, you’re likely to be able to construct a persuasive picture of yourself and your ability. If your 15- to 20-year-old work experience isn’t critical to demonstrating what you can contribute to the new role, leave it out. The same can be said for college graduation dates.


  1. Think of industries where having a certain age could be advantageous.

Here’s one that not enough people think about: Consider industries in which age is considered as an asset rather than a problem. Consider the jobs, industries, or firms where senior practitioners are likely to be highly regarded. Do you think you’d be a good fit for one of these?

Jobs where your clientele include older adults (e.g., caregiver, retirement services, healthcare, and so on) or young people who want direction or assistance from someone with life experience are examples of this (e.g., nonprofits that serve underprivileged youth and schools). Consider what roles will best leverage your career capital while also valuing your maturity.


There’s no denying that handling a job hunt as an older adult might provide problems that folks in the early phases of their careers don’t (yet) have to deal with.   They’ve got their own problems to deal with.

For you, dwelling on these issues is counterproductive.

As you make this change, your best bet is to quit worrying about the things you can’t control and instead focus on the things you can. Begin with the options I’ve outlined and work your way up from there. 

20 years ago, you knew nothing or, at best, very little. Today, you have a high-class problem and someone will recognize your ability to help them.  Remember, you just need one person in one organization to hire you.



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes.

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