About Me

My photo
Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Successful Online Job Search Tips for Experienced Workers

The strategy of an online job search is very different from searching for employment in the 1980s or even in the low unemployment era of the 1990s. Recently, I talked with my former colleague &  good friend Connie Savage, SPHR, LinkedIn LION-- an independent recruiter and job search coach about what makes a successful online search today and how can experienced workers position themselves competitively. If you haven’t looked for a job in three years, everything’s changed.

Brenda: Are there any jobs out there for workers over 40?

Connie: There are plenty of specific jobs out there for qualified people, but the employers are trying to find everything on their “wish list” in one person. With so many people looking for work, employers are very picky about experience and still may not pay what people made in the 1990s when unemployment was 5%. Now unemployment is nearly double that and it is very competitive. Job seekers have to be realistic.

Brenda: Why do some people apply for hundreds of jobs online and never receive more than an automated response?

Connie: Generally, people don’t understand how online job search works. First, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of responses for a single job listing. Many of them are not remotely qualified, which is why online is so efficient for the staffing department. The applicant tracking system and recruiters will search for keywords, so you want to have those in your resume or online application. You can usually find keywords in the job posting. The tracking system then ranks the resumes based on “relevance” or how closely they match the job description. The staffing specialist may only consider the top 25; maybe the best candidate is #438. Their resume may never be seen.  Staffing departments have a lot fewer people than they have in the past.

Brenda:  Would online applications make it a more equal playing field for mature workers that meet the specific qualifications?

Connie: I wouldn’t assume that age doesn’t matter. An employer can determine how long you’ve worked because many of the online systems require dates. Some employers are looking for someone with 5-7 years experience or 10 years experience, so they may not plan on bringing in someone with thirty years of experience.

Brenda: What can a 40+ worker do to stand out and have their online application reach the top?

Connie: #1:  The best way to be sure your resume is seen is to tweak your resume to reflect the job description EXACTLY.  You must create different resumes for different jobs.  Use keywords contained in the job description and you can even list keywords along the bottom of your resume. Also keep your resume “refreshed” on the website.  Each time you “refresh” your resume it moves up on the list the recruiter sees, since most are listed in either date order, or relevance order.  This will give your resume a better chance of reaching higher relevance in the candidate database when the recruiter is working on that opening.
#2:  keep graduation dates and any other non relevant dates off the resume and don’t list jobs over ten or fifteen years ago unless they are relevant.
#3: with some online applicant systems if you enter “99/99” it will over-ride the date for graduations
#4: always apply at the company website.  Applicants don’t realize that it is extremely expensive for companies to utilize the mega job boards, and, as the staffing department budgets are cut, they are relying more and more on other means to attract candidates like employee referral programs, their own company websites, and networking sites like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Craigs List and many other “free” resources.
#5: If there is a place to add an objective or statement—don’t leave it blank! Put something clever related to the job and keywords to more perfectly match the listing.
#5 Consider having a professional assist you with your resume and coach you when you do get that precious interview.  It could well be worth the investment.

Other online job search tips to remember--- some of the more sophisticated online applicant systems have a second step that asks specific questions to rule out people without their “must have” qualifications. Once you make it through the first hurdle, you may get a follow-up e-mail. Use all of your online resources including alumni listings, professional associations, career specific sites. If you know people who work for the company see if there is an employee referral program. Before using this source, however, be certain that the individual referring you is in good standing and well respected in the company, otherwise this one could backfire on you. Generally, the employee receives a finders fee if you are hired. Employers are going to LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Juju, Indeed even Twitter & Facebook and getting away from just the mega job sites—so use social media wisely. Put your name, city and state in a search engine to see if the search results are what you want a future employer to see. Please don’t forget to network with your contacts at the company. The hiring manager may ask the staffing department to search for you by name. Never stop networking!

Connie is the President of CSS Recruiting and Consulting and can be reached via LinkedIn.


  1. Excellent blog Brenda. As an unemployed person looking for work myself this resource is invaluable. There should be more people like you we can turn to. You are a great help. Thanks.
    John Schwab

  2. Hi Brenda

    Great interview format!! Really liked this. Keep up the great work of helping others.



  3. I was 48yrs old, and was out of work for 9mos. I had sent hundreds of resumes online, and recieved about 4 interviews, only to be dissappointed. I turned to Connie (Savage), for coaching. She helped me tweak my resume, and the very next interview I recieved, she had a mock interview with me, and told me things to say, or not to say, and questions to ask. She explained to me about researching the company online, to help with questions, and to show my interest in the company. Interviewing is an art, your actions can cost you a job before you ever start an interview. I am VERY happy to say that I got that job. I truly believe that if it wasn't for Connie (Savage), that I wouldn't have got the job!! Everything that she (Connie)said in your (Brenda) interview is VERY true in todays job market. I was online every day for at least 12hrs. a day, posting resumes, and most of the time, I never recieved a response. If I did get a response, most generally, it was about 3mos. after sending a resume. Today's job market is VERY, VERY tough, and competitive, you have to KNOW someone. If you don't know someone with a company, people like Connie Savage can be invaluble to helping you land your next job!! GOOD LUCK to everyone that's unemployed, and THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH, Connie Savage. You were truly a BLESSING to me!!

  4. Thank you for this post and this site, I had no idea there was a website just for people like me. I am 49 and recently laid off in a restructuring or "right-sizing" after 19 years. It was only "right" if you didn't get laid off. I've been looking for a job for almost a year. My savings are gone, I think I might be depressed. I have replied to hundreds of jobs online! I have an MBA in Marketing and worked for a large retailer having problems. This at least tells me why maybe no responses were coming from the sites I registered with. I stopped networking because of embarrassment of still being unemployed. Thanks again and maybe I'll have a job before I turn 50 in November. Hopeful in PA.

  5. When I retired at 62, I thought I would never have to work again. We saved, owned our home, and our children were taking care of their families. At age 65, we experienced unexpected losses because of a tornado. Even with insurance, our savings took a big hit. My husband and I decided to relocate and work for a couple of years to rebuild our reserves. We applied online for hundreds of jobs and heard almost nothing. The companies that did reply wanted us to work commission only selling insurance or financial planning. We are retired teachers. We ended up working retail for a couple of years to rebuild our lives and savings. Once you are over 60 and retire, I feel your best working days are behind you. Our online job search taught us that lesson.

  6. Your given interview format great!! I really liked this. Keep up the great work of helping others.

  7. Find the Latest IT Jobs in England. Search and Apply Online Now. We have over a thousand IT jobs based in England. Start your Career Today at UK’s No.1 IT jobs site- Findingitjobs.co.uk.
    IT Jobs England

  8. Look, there are tools nowadays to make a job seeker’s life easier. One of which is SnagPad, a job search tracking system (JTS). JTS’s are relatively new and SnagPad is one of the best. It has a feature called SnagCast, which helps automate your interaction with your network. By inviting people to “support” your job search, those individuals receive a weekly email updating them on your job search progress. It reminds them of the ideal job you are looking for and job opportunities you’ve recently considered. The purpose is to keep you top of mind with your network that you are in a job search, what job you are looking for and a method to provide feedback on opportunities you’ve found.

  9. I like this tips because I learn a lot on how to find the best jobs. I want to have an Australian careers because I know that there was the best jobs for me waiting there.

  10. Its very beneficial blog. this is very useful for everyone. Want more latest job vacancies update. Visit Here

  11. Good information to know and right to the point. Thanks for this well written post on search jobs , i’ll follow up for more updates if you keep posting them.