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Searching for a job over 50 can be a daunting task, especially if you’re looking to get back to the workforce after some years of being away. But take heart. You have plenty of strengths and skills, plus the wisdom of years to strategize and be any company's top choice. You just have to know how to present yourself in the best possible light.

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Make your resume ageless

Update your resume and avoid any job gaps that can make the employer doubt your qualifications. It takes recruiters 20 to 30 seconds to scan your resume and decide if they're interested. Limit your resume to only one or two pages and avoid using heavy graphics.

Focus on your accomplishments and expertise summary, and stick with relevant experience over the past 10-15 years only. Mention skills related to the job description, even if it means different resumes for different job openings.

You should also skip college graduation or other dates from years ago. Never lie, but remember you're selling skills, not your age.

Finally, don't forget a concise cover letter and proofread all documents carefully. You may not be the world's greatest writer, but this is a chance to show your attention to detail.

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Establish a digital presence

Technology has taken the world by storm, and if you want to compete, it’s imperative to have a digital platform. Today, it’s not uncommon for recruiters to use LinkedIn to research candidates for certain roles. Your LinkedIn profile should highlight your skills and stay up to date. If you don’t know how to create a profile, reach out to friends or family members.

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Research the company

Job searching may have changed over the years, but how interviews work has remained constant. Before your interview, learn as much as possible about your interviewer, the industry, the company, and its competitors. Make sure your information is current, and don't forget Google is your friend. The more informed you are, the better you'll be able to answer questions and ask them. Plus, it showcases your diligence.

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Take some practice runs

If you want to ace your interview, practice is key. Enlist the help of a colleague, family member, or friend to act as a hiring manager. To prepare for an interview with someone much younger, examine stereotypes or assumptions, and avoid slipping into the way you talk with your kids. Remain professional, inquisitive, and friendly, and show you get along well with younger people since you'll likely be working with them.

Focusing on what you can do for the company and showing your eagerness to learn will draw attention away from your age.

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Give yourself a makeover

The interview begins the moment you enter the room, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Your personal grooming and how you dress are critical. Dress formally if in doubt and, even if the dress code is casual, take it up a notch with a jacket or crisp blouse. Stick with low-key accessories, and remember this applies to online interviews, as well.

Consider shopping for a new outfit, polishing your shoes, or getting a haircut or trim. Updating your image will boost your confidence and reflect in your attitude.

A senior African American woman shopping in a clothing store. She is standing by a rack of dresses on hangers, looking at a price tag, carrying a shopping bag. kali9 / Getty Images
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Expand your network

“Your network is your net worth” is a common saying but one that holds a lot of weight. The job market is often more about who you know than what you know. Some of the best resources include job fairs, former colleagues, former classmates, and people you’ve worked with on past projects.

Technology has revolutionized networking, and thanks to LinkedIn, you can connect with like-minded individuals who can point you in the right direction. You can also sign up for LinkedIn job notifications.

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Spread the word

Let your colleagues and contacts know you’re open to new opportunities. Who knows? Your next job might come from the unlikeliest of places, such as your dentist. Leverage social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook to connect. You can also search Twitter and other platforms for others in your field.

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Stay sharp by upgrading your skills

Employers always want individuals with the most up-to-date skills in the industry. Be sure to keep up with best practices by attending workshops, seminars, education courses, or volunteer work. You may meet your next employer by involving yourself in such activities.

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Don’t write off temporary work

Contractual work is one of the most effective ways of getting a job as an older worker. Taking part-time work helps fill in resume gaps, earn money, and build or practice skills. During your interview, you can mention your openness to contractor work which offers employers an opportunity to see your work ethic. You may end up negotiating for a higher salary by foregoing the benefits of a full-time worker.

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Highlight your age as an asset

Age doesn't have to work against you. On the contrary, you can use it to your advantage to highlight skills that make you stand out from the younger talent. Refrain from discussing your age; instead, focus on skills you've developed, such as problem-solving, time management, or project system development. You can also offer practical examples of times you’ve used these skills and the impact they had.

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