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In today's ever changing job market, not only have the types of jobs offered changed, but so have the individuals who make up the current workforce. Many older workers are opting to continue working instead of retiring. If you're one of these seasoned professionals, how do you keep your edge and stay fresh and vibrant in today's fast paced employment atmosphere?
1. Be trendy
Follow job market trends. Older workers must keep their finger on the pulse of the labor force by asking themselves, 'What jobs are in demand today?' and by keeping up with today's technology, particularly computer technology says Deborah Russell, director of the issues agenda for economic security for AARP, a non-profit organization for people age 50 and over.
2. Get wired
Know your computer. Russell stresses that updating general office skills, especially computer skills, is crucial, "particularly since many employers assume that mature workers lack skills in this area. Having the basic computer skills that allow you to function in the workplace is essential." That means being comfortable with:
3. Go back to school
Fill in the gaps with education. If you lack in any area of demand, especially computer skills, remember it's never too late for more education. Many instructional courses are offered at your local community college, library or neighborhood association. "Lifelong learning is an important aspect of professional growth. Assessing your skills and determining whether there are any gaps will help identify potential areas for additional education," Russell says.
4. Opportunity knocks
Take advantage of chances to learn all around you. Besides attending classes, a good way to gain new skills is to be on the lookout for learning opportunities right at work. Is someone going on vacation whose job is outside your normal realm of responsibilities? Perhaps you can volunteer to cover for them and learn a little about what they do. Or volunteer for temporary assignments that you wouldn't normally handle.
5. Update your résumé
If you are looking to make a change to a new position, you need to get current on the latest résumé trends. Like anything else, résumé styles change over time. The résumé is a vital tool in helping any worker articulate the qualifications and experience they can bring to a potential position. Russell says often "employers are more interested in the skills you bring to a job versus how many years you worked for a particular employer. It gives them a snapshot of your capabilities and if you in fact possess the skills they're looking for." So make your résumé skill-driven and results-oriented, showcasing your management skills and sales accomplishments, instead of merely providing a litany of dates, titles and responsibilities from past positions.
Talk to others in your same situation. Don't despair; there are organizations that offer support groups for older workers to discuss the challenges they've faced and learn new strategies to overcome them. The Operation ABLE Network is composed of agencies across the United States that focus on meeting the needs of mid-career workers and job seekers. Check your local phone book for the Operation ABLE chapter in your area.
Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.
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