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Fired at Age 50: Job Seeking and Interview Tips

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Getting fired is a rough experience for anyone, but it can be especially tough when you're 50 or older. You want to get back to work, but you're concerned that your age will be seen as a negative. Putting a few secret tips to work can give you the upper hand in your job search.

Find Senior-Friendly Businesses

Some companies have a reputation for welcoming older people into the workforce. Identifying these companies and focusing your job search on them can help you find another job sooner. Research websites like RetirementJobs.com or the AARP Worksearch Information Network to find employers that actively seek older workers. Some AARP offices even offer career-search advice and retraining opportunities for job hunters over 50. Also, check out the Society for Human Resources Management's list of the "Best Employers for Workers Over 50" for information on other employers. Finally, don't overlook your local unemployment office as a resource for finding employers that value experience over youth.

Customize Your Resume

Once you identify a position you want to apply for, tailor your resume to fit the job. Many resumes are submitted and screened online, so it's important to prepare your resume so it makes it through the screening process. Use the same keywords and phrases in your resume that the employer used in the job description, and sort your experience by category -- not by date. Bullet-point summaries of your experience to make it easy for a screener to see your qualifications.

Interview Prep

Many jobs require a series of interviews before an employer makes an offer. Preparing for these interviews can help you stand out as the best candidate for the job. Practice summarizing your skills and talents. For each skill or accomplishment you listed on your resume, organize the details of your experience into a story that spotlights your accomplishments and the results you achieved for your employer. Be ready to explain how your many years in the workforce give you the confidence and expertise that younger candidates might not have developed.

Explaining The Firing

Before your interview, prepare a brief explanation that summarizes what happened with your previous job and what you learned from the experience. It's fine to say you were "let go," or "asked to leave," instead of using the word "fired." Do not dwell on the circumstances surrounding your departure. Explain in a professional tone that you're ready to move on and are looking forward to your next job. If the interviewer asks follow-up questions about the termination, answer them honestly and concisely. Address the issue head-on and take responsibility for what happened. Avoid placing blame on your old boss or employer.

Maintain Connections

Leverage your social network in your job search. If you don't use social networking websites, join LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you already belong to these websites, update your status to let your contacts know that you're available for full-time work or short-term projects, and update your profile so it includes all your skills. Take advantage of your "offline" network, too. Many people in their 50s and 60s -- the group you likely had a lot of contact with professionally -- aren't as active on online social networks as younger people. Call your friends and acquaintances or meet them for lunch or coffee and make sure they know what you can offer a new employer. Sending a prompt thank-you message after any referral lets people know how much you appreciate their help.