Is Your Job Search Too Old Fashioned?

WorkCoachCafeI hear from many “older” job seekers these days who are frustrated with today’s job search process.  They are convinced that their “advanced age” (30, 40, 50, 60, or more) is causing them problems.  I think they could be right, but NOT, perhaps, for the reason they think…

Although I do not doubt that age discrimination exists, I know that other things could be negatively impacting these people.  It basically comes down to looking – and being – out of date, using old-fashioned job search techniques.

If you are over 40 or it has been more than 3 years since your last job hunt, you are probably unaware of how much recruiting and hiring practices have changed recentlly, particularly with the growth of social media and also with the tough job market we have been experiencing.

The 5 New Rules of Job Search

Regardless of age, being out-of-date is a very common problem and not, fortunately, an insurmountable one.  Here are some things you can do to address the issue, and become more up-to-date for your job search and your job.

1. Focus!

One of today’s “problems” is too many opportunities!  Studies have shown that we humans are almost paralyzed when we have too many choices – which TV show to watch (when you have hundreds of channels), which coffee to order (when it comes in dozens of variations), and on, and on, and on…

Going to a job board and entering only the location is asking for over-load.  Waaayyy too many choices!  I just typed “Chicago” into Indeed, and it showed me 57,000+ jobs!  Yikes!

To make your job search more effective, focus on 1 or 2 job titles you really want and the employers you would like to work for.

2. Bring Your “A” Game!

The way you handle this whole process of applying and interviewing for a job is viewed as an example of your work – which it is!

Use great care with all of your interactions with an employer or recruiter.  Take the time to craft your best response rather than hurriedly attaching your resume to a one-sentence email with a subject that simply (and very unhelpfully) says, “Resume Attached” or “Applying.”

Standing out from the crowd in a positive way is NOT optional.  Leverage the technology currently available, and you will also prove that you are not out-of-date.

Resumes –

Resumes have changed substantially with the availability of technology.  An old-fashioned resume stamps “OUT-OF-DATE” on your forehead! Most employers expect that you can use word processing software well enough to customize your resume and cover letter specifically for them.   Generic work-history resumes don’t often work well today.

(Go to, the website by resume expert Susan Ireland, for knowledgeable advice, many sample resumes and cover letters, and more.)

Networking –

Studies show that the person who is referred by an employee is hired 5 times more often than the stranger who simply applies.  So, focus that networking on your target employers (or a class of employers).

Find those former colleagues who you worked with well in the past.  Or that great boss you had 2 jobs ago.  Where are they working now?  Are they hiring?

Interviewing –

Be very well-prepared.  Expect to be asked, “So, what do you know about us?” and have a good answer ready based on your research on the employer’s website as well as what Google and LinkedIn show you.

Prepare positive answers to the standard interview questions, particularly for any “soft spots” you have, like gaps in your employment history,  being fired, or anything questionable about your recent work history that could raise concern for an employer.

Also, of course, have answers ready for the standard interview questions, like “Why do you want to work here?”  “Why should we hire you?”

3. Be Visible!

Being invisible is like another OUT-OF-DATE stamp on your forehead!  Employers use search engines to research job applicants more than 80% of the time, according to recent studies.  They are looking for “social proof” that you are who you say you are, have done what you say you have done, would fit in well, and understand how to use the Internet for business.  If they don’t find that corroboration, they move on to the next candidate.

If you Google your name and find nothing about you on the first page or – at a minimum – the first 3 pages, this is a problem! Yes, it is better than having photos of you drunk at a party, but a lack of online visibility brands you as out-of-date (unless you are in some sort of super-secret profession, like spy).

It also makes you vulnerable to mistaken identity.  Oh, that person who has the same name you have and stole money from his or her last employer isn’t you?  An employer doing a quick Google search would not know it wasn’t you, and, most likely, they would not take the time to find out.

4.  Join LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is an excellent venue for managing professional/work visibility.  LinkedIn is usually # 1 – or very near # 1 – on any search of a person’s name on a search engine.  And, YOU control what it tells the world about you!  Your LinkedIn Profile needs to be 100% complete (LinkedIn guides you through that process), and then it will provide much of the “social proof” most employers are seeking.

LinkedIn will help you reconnect with those former colleagues, co-workers, and bosses, and give you opportunities, through Groups and Answers, to demonstrate what you know.

5.  Pay Attention!

We don’t live in a static world. Set up Google Alerts for news about your target employers, industries, profession, locations, technologies, competitors, and anything else relevant to your job search and career. Staying up-to-date is essential today.

When you are at the employer’s location as for a job interview, notice how it is organized, how well-kept the environment is, whether or not the employees seem stressed, how safe the location is, and whatever else is a concern for you. Consider whether or not you would like working for, or with, the people are are interviewing you.

If you don’t pay attention to what is going on, you could be looking for a job in the wrong place at the wrong time. You don’t want to be the last person hired before the layoffs begin or the person looking for a job in a field that has disappeared.

Read “5 Ways to Use Google Alerts for Your Job Search” for more information.



Catch up with these New Rules so you don’t look out-of-date because looking out-of-date is probably hurting you more than your age.  The good news is that by becoming more up-to-date for your job search, you’ll be more up-to-date for your job!  So, you should be more successful once you land.  We’re never too old to learn something new – it keeps us young!

For More Help with Job Search Today

Why Job Hunting Is So Hard, and How to Make It Easier

7 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers

How to Avoid the Resume Black Hole: Finding the Right Keywords

How to Avoid the Resume Black Hole: Using the Right Keywords

How to Avoid the Discard Pile

How to Get Your Emailed Resume Noticed

Knock Their Socks Off in that Job Interview

Why LinkedIn Isn’t Helping My Job Search

5 Ways You Look Out-of-Date in Your Job Search (

Social Proof: Linked(In) to Your Resume (

Defensive Googling (

Monitor Your Online Reputation with Google Alerts (


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .


  1. Great post, Susan!

    You’ve captured the situation for 40+ job seekers perfectly. Too many blame their protracted job search on ageism, instead of realizing that they should research “job search” . . . and hopefully land on this post and other valuable ones like it.

    They need to learn how things have changed since they were at it last, to build a comprehensive plan, before they even begin to target jobs or companies, and build their resume and online profiles around those opportunities. They just don’t know all that’s involved in conducting a job search to land a good-fit job today — targeting, personal branding, personal marketing, online presence, social media, in-person and online social networking, and more.

    • Thank you, Meg!

      It’s a tough situation, and blaming the victim is not my intent with this post.

      I just hate to see people miss opportunities because they don’t understand the new process in use today. They get SO discouraged! It’s not that hard to catch up, but attention is needed on the “new” process, because the “old way” often doesn’t work any more.

  2. Great post! I see far too many jobseekers over 40 who
    * start their resumes with the number of years they have worked rather than their expertise
    * don’t focus on achievements that are relevant to the job they want
    * think that putting a resume on Monster is all they have to do to find a job
    * think that sending their resume to a recruiting agency is all they have to do to find a job

    Sure, as you said, age discrimination exists. But you make the choice where you work – find the places that are smart enough not to discriminate that way. Do your homework before you apply.
    And NETWORK your way in.

  3. My two favorite subjects to stress to my client base is (1) online reputation protection and (2) networking for long-term success. While networking has been around since people trying to get into the king’s court, online reputation protection is fairly new. Also, as a professional resume writer, I see clients all the time who believe their resume is “good enough”, yet has zero accomplishments, starts off with an outdated “Objective” and has employment dates going back into the 80s and 70s.

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