job hunters over age 50

Getting hired when you're over 50

December 9, 2011: 10:41 AM ET

True, older job seekers face a few extra obstacles. But you may be able to overcome them by turning your age to your advantage. Here's how.

By Anne Fisher, contributorresume building

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I read your recent column on bridging the generation gap in the workplace between young bosses and older employees. It struck a nerve with me, because, frankly, I'd be delighted to work for a young boss if I could just get one to hire me. I'm 53 and I was laid off last year from a senior marketing management position at a bank. Luckily, I have enough savings to live on for a while, since my job hunt seems to be taking forever.

All goes well until I show up for an interview with a 30-something hiring manager or HR person, and then I hear, "Oops! Sorry, the position has been filled, but thanks for coming in." I'd like to think this isn't because, like most people in their fifties, I have a few gray hairs and laugh lines, but it's hard to draw any other conclusion. Do you and your readers have any suggestions for me? — Not Dead Yet

Dear N.D.Y.: Cold comfort though it may be, a long job hunt is perfectly normal these days, especially for anyone seeking a senior management job. "The higher your rank in your last position, the longer it takes to find a new one," says Mark Anderson, president of ExecuNet, a national career network for $100,000-a-year-plus senior managers.

ExecuNet's research shows, for example, that a vice president over age 50 takes 20% longer to get hired than a 41-to-45-year-old job seeker at the same level. But age is only part of the story. The main reason it now takes the average management job candidate at least 10 months to get hired is that "companies are taking longer to fill positions," Anderson notes. "Many companies who have management openings are not aggressively looking to fill them."

He points to a new ExecuNet survey that says that only 16% of employers plan to hire executives over the next six months, a big decrease from about 30% earlier this year. More

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