Job Search Tips for Older Workers

What Job Seekers Over 40 Need to Know When Job Hunting

Older worker leading a meeting with younger colleagues.
••• Troels Graugaard / Vetta / Getty Images

In today's job market, finding a job is not easy. If you're over 40, age can present an additional hurdle to job-hunting. Today, older workers in the legal profession and other industries are competing with younger job-seekers and Generation Y for a shrinking number of open positions.

To help you in your job search, we asked recruiters, career coaches and workplace experts from around the country for job search tips for those age 40 or older. Read on to learn their tips and advice.

Confront Age Discrimination 

"I always advise older job applicants to be extremely sensitive to the possibility of age discrimination. If there's even a chance it might be a problem, always assume it is. Confront it head-on by bringing it up yourself and dealing with it. If you've picked up on age discrimination euphemisms ("We need people who are vigorous and energetic"), couch your response in terms of those euphemisms. For example: "You know, I pride myself on my vigor and energy. If you talk to anyone at my last job, they'll tell you that I out-hustle anyone there. The younger guys, in particular, can't keep up with me because, not only do they not have my energy, they haven't yet learned to work smart." Or, "I pride myself on always being on the cutting edge of all the latest trends. And the wide-ranging experience I have in the industry allows me to apply the very latest practices in the most effective ways, to put them in the appropriate perspective." - Barry Maher, consultant, author, speaker

Invest in a Makeover

"Maybe it's makeover time. [A job change] is a great time to invest in updating your look. This is especially true if you haven't done so in a while or if you've been in the same job (or even the same relationship) for a long time. It's so easy to get stuck in a look that is stagnant, outdated, and maybe even less-than-flattering. Companies like to hire people who exude a polished, on-trend appearance. Put the odds in your favor here. Plus, when you know you look great, you'll feel more confident. That is always attractive!" - Patti DeNucci, business networking expert and author of The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business (Rosewall Press, 2011)

Start a Blog, Enhance Your Web Presence ​

"The best way to find a job when you're over 40 is to have the job or jobs find you. The easiest way to do that is with a blog. And the secret to leveraging your blog for job-hunting purposes is to blog on the area you want to become designated as the expert in, and then get people to connect to and read your blog. Can't start a blog? Have no time? Contribute thoughtful and meaningful comments to other's blogs - blogs that people who would be in a position to hire you would be reading. Bonus: do reviews of business books on Amazon - the books that the people or recruiters who would be in a position to hire you because of your expertise will be reading. A best-selling book on marketing might have 200 reviews, three of which are well written and substantive. Be one of that three. The web is your billboard. Now is the time to start building the right kind of presence on the web, one that will last throughout your career." - David Perry, co-author, Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 head headhunter, Managing Partner of Perry-Martel International Inc.

Consider Telecommuting Jobs

"Take advantage of your experience by focusing your job search on telecommuting jobs. More employers are embracing this way of working (we've seen a 400% increase in telecommuting job postings since 2007), and 40+ workers have an advantage because a majority of telecommuting jobs posted require experience, which eliminates competition from younger job seekers. In addition, much of the application process for telecommuting jobs is done online and over the phone, so fears that ageism might be taking a toll on your job search can be put to rest when an employer sees only your excellent application and qualifications, rather than your age. Because telecommuting jobs exist for almost any profession, most 40+ job seekers will find excellent leads in this niche." - Sara Sutton Fell, CEO/Founder of FlexJobs (

Emphasize Experience, Stay Positive. ​

"Older applicants need to deal with the negative perceptions of age and to stress the positives they've picked up because of experience. Ideally, they should show that age and experience make them stronger, even in those very qualities the employer associated with youth. But they should never do it defensively, always do it positively, if at all possible raising the issue themselves rather than letting it lie there as an unspoken problem." - Barry Maher, consultant, author, speaker

Stay Current

"The key is to not appear over 40 - stay current in your technology, training, and skills. Be sure your resume and other career documents are formatted according to today's standards. Utilize social media to network professionally, including LinkedIn (first and foremost), Twitter and/or Facebook. The general concern with being over 40 is that you're no longer competitive. Take the concern off the table." - Laurie Berenson, President of Sterling Career Concepts, LLC

Highlight the Benefits of Older Workers ​

"Unless you are seeking a job in a hyper-young environment (think Internet start-up or the music industry), don't try to hide your age. They will find out at some point and it will backfire on you either in the interview or when checking references. Highlight the benefit of hiring someone your age. The 28-year-old is likelier to bolt for another opportunity sooner than the 48-year-old who knows how hard it is to get another job. The 40+ seeker represents stability and is more committed to succeeding because there's more riding on it (a mortgage, tuition, etc.). The 25-year-old is just focused on getting out of his parents' basement. Hiring a 40+ seeker saves money because it reduces turnover and HR only has to fill the job once." - Ronald M. Katz, HR consultant, career coach and the author of Someone's Gonna Get Hired...It Might As Well Be You!

Leverage Your Experience

"At 40, you have almost two decades of experience that will benefit potential companies. Remain flexible, as your new job may not exactly be like your old job. Possibly go back to something you did 10+ years ago and use that experience to open doors for you." - Joe Belko, Partner with NJ-based Watson Barron

Re-invent Yourself

"I am 47. I landed my current position by re-inventing myself through changing my career and re-educating myself. Knowledge is power. Additionally, projecting positive energy and confidence in yourself is critical. You must truly believe in yourself. Always be professional. Never act like you know it all because of your age. Be prepared to work for someone younger than you." - Debra Neser

Be Honest About Your Age

"Clearly and proactively emphasize your age and the number of years of experience rather than avoid, minimize, or downplay. More high-level executives responsible for hiring decisions have very specific and defined needs. If they are going to pass you over for someone younger that they can pay less at the cost of experience, they will do so whatever you say or don't say during the interview process. Focus instead on being clear, honest and very upfront in all realms. Though this may result in some lost opportunities because of mismatched needs, you are much more likely to find the best fit for you quicker." - Dr. Joseph Cilona, Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist, business and personal coach, author and nationally recognized psychology expert.