Cover Letter Tips For Older Workers
Getting a job is tough for anyone these days, but it’s more challenging for older workers than anyone else in the workforce. Oftentimes, employers will dismiss applications from older workers out of hand. And note that “older” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in your 50s or 60s, or even your 40s.
You’re considered way past your expiration date if you’re even in your mid 30s these days. In fact, you’re coming up on it fast if you’re in your mid to late 20s. How do you deal with the issue of age when you’re writing your cover letter? Here are some ideas.
Confront the topic indirectly in your letter.
Pretending ageism doesn’t exist doesn’t eliminate it. Employers usually worry that age indicates someone’s skills are out of date or they aren’t energetic enough for the job. You can reassure an employer by emphasizing your energetic nature and also drawing attention to what you do to keep your skills up to date and your knowledge current.
Take some classes.
If you aren’t already doing this, you should, especially if you are in an occupation where cutting edge knowledge is important (like software or the medical field). Get some current certifications. Going to school demonstrates two things: that you are committed to staying up to date, and also that you have the energy to do something new.
If you don’t have any recent work experience and you’ve been out for a long time, it can pay off to have some recent experience to add to your resume. Obviously you can’t add recent paid work experience since you are unemployed, but you can put down recent volunteer work. There is really no need to state that it was a volunteer position; you don’t list salaries on your resume. If asked, be honest about it, but otherwise, you can just put down where you worked and what you did.
Don’t turn your cover letter into a pity party.
It’s hard to avoid saying things like, “I’ve been out of the workforce a long time, and it’s really hard getting a job at my age, but …” While it makes sense to address ageism in your cover letter in the ways discussed above, it never pays off to complain and sound like you’re whining.
Is it hard to get a job when you’re older?
Yes, but it’s not necessarily impossible. You can increase your chances with specialized knowledge in a challenging field or by choosing occupations that may not interest everyone else. You might have an easier time getting seasonal work or work with unusual hours for example, since many other job candidates may overlook these positions as inconvenient or inaccessible.
You might even try using a seasonal job or a temp job as a bridge to get back into the workforce, and then work on applying for a job which offers you the full-time schedule you want. Or you might find that you’re happier in a nontraditional employment situation after all.