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3 Things Boomers Should Do On LinkedIn


The realities of the job market for boomers aren’t pretty: More than 2 million people over 55 are currently unemployed, and the average older worker has been out of work for 52.4 weeks, compared to just 35.6 weeks for those under 55. Part of this may be due to age discrimination, as some hiring managers assume that older workers aren’t as energetic or tech savvy as younger workers, and thus aren’t as inclined to hire them.

This, of course, makes it increasingly important for older workers to project a youthful presence. To help workers create this image online, SmartMoney.com asked Nicole Williams, the connection director for LinkedIn, to share some tips on what older workers should do to make their LinkedIn profile as compelling as possible to employers and help combat older worker stereotypes.  Here’s what she told us:

  • Use the right photo It’s important to use a photo that shows energy, youth and modernity, but the photo must be current. To show energy, make sure you’re smiling in the photo and are sitting up straight with your shoulders back; to show modernity and youth, make sure your haircut and color are current (hit up the salon before the picture for some highlights and a modern cut, if need be), as well as your makeup and outfit. If you aren’t sure about this, go to a department store and ask the salesperson to help you pick out an outfit or makeup that are very “now.” But don’t use a photo that’s ten years old, she says. “If you get the interview from this photo, the employer may feel mislead when she sees you in person,” Williams says. “This could hurt you.”
  • Make sure you have at least 50 connections If you don’t have many connections, it’s going to make a potential employer feel like you just joined the network — which might signal that you’re not that tech savvy. So, work on connecting with at least 50 of your old coworkers or associates as soon as you can. Plus, once you hit 50 connections, LinkedIn will start giving you secondary and tertiary suggestions of people you should connect with, Williams says, so that will help you build up your network of potential business contacts more quickly.
  • Get the right kind of recommendations When you ask old colleagues to give you recommendations on LinkedIn, see if they will stress things that can help combat older-worker stereotypes that the hiring manager might have. Maybe the colleague can highlight the fact that you have a lot of energy, saying something like “she is always enthusiastic about taking on new projects,” or highlight your tech skills, she says.

Of course, your LinkedIn profile is only part of the job application process, which should also include things like networking and finessing your resume.


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    • Wish I was where you are. Looks beautiful man! I agree with the end rleust of the Feds somehow finding a way to start demanding a certain percentage of our pensions and 401k be allocated for some noble cause, which of course is really just to make up for the money they need for spending programs. Glad all my investments are out of the markets now and safely sitting in my hands.

    • This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your posts on blogs.smartmoney.com . Thanks!

    • Good easy to read summary. YOu might want to mention social media and advanced tecnology aspects in your profile if you have them or aspire to learn them.

    • I couldn’t agree more about a current photo as it’s the first impression that you make to others! I recommend changing it every 3 years, as styles and facial structure changes. When people meet you in person, you want there to be a match between you and the photo they’ve seen of you.

      I offer 2 “Project Yourself” photo sessions: one is Facebook/Web only and the other is for both print applications (business cards/brochures/annual reports, etc) and web. Consultation on clothing styles/colors is included. You may contact me via my Linked-In account.

    • They should also look at their profile through the lens of “keywords”. For example, don’t just put “vice president, ACME company” but “vice president of SALES”. Use the summary section to include keywords as well as other strengths that won’t come across in the standard job descriptions.

About Encore

  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.