Job Hunting in a Layoff Economy

Likewise, if you've been playing full-time caregiver for the past several years, you can still impress potential employers with your multitasking and administrative skills, not to mention your reliability and patience. In addition, taking courses, volunteering or consulting in your chosen field will go a long way toward freshening up your resume.

As for those who've been sitting in mom's basement playing video games since getting their bachelor's degrees a year ago, I'm with your mom: It's time to get off your duff and take whatever work you can get that won't land you in jail.

Look Beyond

When it comes to sniffing out the jobs, if you're just relying on Monster, CareerBuilder or Craigslist, you're not looking hard enough.

Unless you have some unusual, highly coveted skills, "Throwing your resume out there in the wind to be competing with 9 million people [is] just a waste of breath," Edwards said. While you might find the occasional gem on such sites, you're far more likely to land a great lead through your professional connections.

Don't have any fresh connections in your field? Then it's high time you got some. Talk to friends and former co-workers to see if they know anyone employed at the companies you'd most like to work for -- or if they have suggestions for companies that are hiring. Line up informational interviews with any healthy companies you can, even if they're not currently hiring. Those meetings have a way of paying off a few weeks or months down the line when an opening arises.

Tap the local chapter of your professional association of choice, too. Not only do these organizations host free or low-cost training programs and meet-and-greets, many of them provide their members with job listings as well as e-mail discussion lists and newsletters filled with insider information you can't get anywhere else.

And finally, if you don't yet have a LinkedIn profile, it's time to make one. Many employers are using this free professional networking site to list jobs and find candidates. It may not be as fun as Facebook or as sexy as, but creating a professional profile could turn out to be one of the best hours you've ever spent.

Make Sure You Don't Sound Old

Despite the fact that such discrimination is illegal, some employers don't want to hire the AARP sect. Either they think everyone over 50 can't learn new tricks, or they're worried that all older candidates are high-level execs looking for a fat cat's salary.

But other than networking your brains out and crossing your fingers, what can you do if you're an older job seeker?

Make sure your technical skills are up to date. If you don't know how use the latest accounting or customer relationship management tools employed in your field, it's time to learn. Your local community college comes in handy here. Many even often online courses for those of you loathe to set foot on a college campus.

Then there's the matter of your resume. Some experts advise older workers to leave the dates off the positions they've held. But Edwards doesn't advise it. Instead, she said, list only the past 10 to 15 years of your work experience, provided it's all relevant to the job you're applying for. If you want to keep your age to yourself, omit the dates from that college degree you earned 30 years ago.

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