It is estimated that over 20% of the U.S. workforce is over the age of 55. In fact, many people are surprised to hear that over 75% of all 65 year-olds have less than $5,000 in the bank for retirement! The sagging economy and stats like these only highlight the need of seniors to work longer and harder than ever.
Simultaneously, more and more seniors, particularly the baby boomer generation, are using social media. Nearly half of all “online” seniors have their own Facebook account and Twitter and Pinterest both say the over 55 market is their fastest-growing constituency.
So, what do these two things have in common? Seniors are finding new ways to use social media to jumpstart their careers at an age where traditionally, they were retiring. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts if you’re thinking of using social media to restart your golden-age career path.
DO: Make sure your social presence is professional and presentable.It’s important at any age to ensure potential hiring pros won’t get anything negative from viewing your social profiles. Boomers are less likely to have keg-stand photos than recent grads but their profiles are more prone to include inappropriately intimate, private conversations with family and friends.
DON’T: Feel like you need to set up a bunch of new profiles.If you’re a senior already using social media for personal reasons feel free to extend that tool into your job search. However, it’s counterproductive to sign up for Twitter to try and land a job if you don’t know how to work the platform correctly. It will show.
DO: Reach out to all your first and second-level contacts about your search.Social networking is just that…a network! Use it to your advantage. Reach out (privately, via a messaging function) to everyone you would feel comfortable calling on the phone and tell them what you’re looking for and give a very brief overview of your skills. Keep it to one paragraph, say thank you, and provide all necessary contact information.
DON’T: Spam your whole network about finding you a job.There are some people it’s just not appropriate to reach out to, no matter how casual the medium. You don’t necessarily need to direct-Tweet your dentist about a new job in finance, but it may make sense to reach out to cousins you only talk to once a year.
DO: Tie in your social marketing efforts with traditional job networking activities.Social is NOT to be used as an end-all-be-all for job searching. You should still send out resumes, attend networking events, and generally make yourself available within the industry you want to enter. Social media is the perfect tool for a quick follow up, thank you, or introduction in lieu of other contact information.
DON’T: Get lazy.Social media requires participants who are active to do any good. Be sure you follow up, post often, and do your fair share of helping and answering other people, too. The more active you are on certain social networks the more populous your circle will become, and that can translate into a job.
DO: Think outside the box.People who find jobs using social media often find them by standing out. Don’t be afraid to be assertive, present yourself in an “aggressively” professional way, or even to create a whole website just for your personal qualifications. You might be surprised how many businesses will find great value in an older professional who knows the ins and outs of social media. Senior citizens have a harder time than any other group finding work once laid off, fired, or retired. There are some ways in which Generation X will always have a leg up on boomers, but there is no substitute for years of experience and a demonstrated, dedicated attitude.
Author Bio: Ryan Currie is a Product Manager at Spokeo, a leader in people search and reverse phone lookup services. In addition to working on Spokeo, he also enjoys history, pop culture, and following the latest news in the movie industry.