Bob graduated from RT school in the early 1980s and immediately went to work at a 250-bed community hospital in his medium-sized city in Iowa. And until last month, that’s where he’d been ever since, working first as a staff therapist, then as a day shift supervisor, and for the last ten years as assistant department manager.
But last fall Bob’s hospital merged with one of the other facilities in town and managerial functions in the two RT departments were consolidated. Bob’s job was eliminated, and for the first time in more than 30 years, he found himself scanning the want ads for a job.
Losing a job you’ve had for more than three decades can be a major blow and finding a new one at the age of 50+ can be a challenge. But if you’re like Bob (two kids still in college and a third getting ready to graduate high school this year), getting a new job is a must for you.
Here are a few tips from the experts that could help you avoid some of the pitfalls commonly experienced by older workers who find themselves back in the job market after an extended period of steady employment –
Don’t languish too long before looking: For one reason or another, many older workers who lose their jobs don’t start looking for a new one right away – they’re either too demoralized from the job loss to get started or they may look at the loss as a well-deserved opportunity to take a little time to themselves. But the longer you stay out of the job market, the less marketable you will appear to prospective employers. If you know you need to go back to work, get right on it.
Tread lightly when it comes to your track record: As someone who’s been around the block a few times, you may be tempted to approach hiring managers – particularly those who are younger than you are — with a sense of superiority when it comes to your knowledge and background in the profession. That won’t work. Instead, let your resume speak for itself and go into the interview resolved to listen to what the manager has to say about what she’s looking for in a job candidate and then cite the experience and skills you have that meet her criteria.
Get up to speed on technology: Most baby boomers know their way around a computer and have a smartphone in their pocket or purse. But if you’ve had a long-time steady position, you may not have bothered with things like LinkedIn or other professionally related social media sites. Now is the time to log on and put yourself out there. Many employers will automatically check LinkedIn profiles and the like before even considering a job candidate. You’ll want to get yourself a professional-sounding email address as well.
Appearances count: Sure, you may be 50+ but that doesn’t mean you have to look and act like someone’s grandpa. So dress for success and try to avoid using words and phrases in your interview that clearly peg you as someone who’s over the hill. You want the hiring manager to view you as a person who has remained current and would be a vibrant addition to the department.
Close the generation (and knowledge) gap: As an older worker, you also want to show your willingness to work with people across all the generations and should have some specific examples of how you did this in your previous job to share with the hiring manager. It’s important to show you’ve kept up with RT technology too, particularly if you are a former manager who’s open to returning to bedside care. If you are considering bedside care, earning a specialty credential such as the NBRC’s Adult Critical Care Specialist would go a long way to proving you still have what it takes as well.
Leverage your network: If you’ve been in RT for 30+ years – even if you’ve spent most of your time in one place — you surely know a lot of other people in the profession. Chances are most, if not all, of them can be found on LinkedIn, which once again makes this professional networking site an imperative in any job search. Seek out your contacts and let them know you’re looking.