How to Re-enter the Workforce in Your 50s

Workforce re-entry can be very intimidating especially if you’re in your 50’s. To top it off, you know the job search has changed drastically since the last time you searched for work. In this blog post, we’ll share how to start your re-entry job search as well as tips for making the reentry as smooth as possible.

Taking time out of your career is a noble endeavor indeed – whether you were caring for an elderly parent or staying at home with  your kids the time will come to get back to work. Like many re-entry clients I support, you’re probably feeling slightly (or very much) terrified. Career re-entry over the age of 50 comes with a number of challenges but it’s not impossible. There are several ways you can make your re-entry a smooth one. If you have been job searching with no success, check out these tips for rebooting your job search.

Where to Start Your Workforce Re-entry Process

The first step to re-entering the workforce in your 50’s is finding a job. Finding a job takes time and commitment and there’s no time like the present to prepare. Even if you’re thinking about re-entry in the not-so-near future, you’ll want to take some time to prepare now. So where do you start? Start with the basics of course! It’s time to dig in your heels and decide what your next career steps will be.

Identify the Best Point of Re-entry

Understanding the most appropriate re-entry point is an important part of rebuilding your professional profile. Some questions you’ll want to ask yourself include:

  • How long have you been out?
  • Will you need to start from scratch with a lower-level position and work your way back up?
  • Were you in a career, such as IT, with an ever-changing industry that’s impossible to keep up with when you’re not actively working?
  • Are you going to make a career change or pick up where you left off?

Take an Honest Look at Your Resume

Once you understand your re-entry point it’s time to dig up your old resume and conduct an honest assessment of where you’re currently at on paper. Sparking hiring manager interest will largely depend on the relevance of your brand and ability to communicate it at first glance. If it’s been a while since you’ve written a resume, it’s important to know that times have changed. Gone are the days of the “1-page only” rule and objective statement. If you decide to take a stab at your resume yourself, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with some of the most common resume mistakes so you can avoid them. Most importantly, you want to follow these ageism-busting resume tips. If you’re an executive, take note of the latest in executive resume trends from this blog post. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of learning all there is to know about resumes, you can always outsource the work. If you do decide to hire a resume writer, here are some things you’ll want to be aware of before making the investment.

Get Creative to Fill the Gaps With Valuable Skills

In an ideal scenario, you have spent a little time over the last several years taking courses to keep up with your industry, volunteering, or organizing the little league team to help brush up your business management skills. Take this time to write a list of the various activities and organizations that you have helped with while you weren’t changing diapers, driving to soccer games, or coordinating home healthcare aides. What else did you do? Did you volunteer as a Scout Troop leader or organize a community event? Volunteering is a great way to pick up some of the top skills needed by employers. Next, make a list of classes or continuing education courses that you may have taken. Filling a resume gap may sound extremely challenging but it’s actually quite simple. Use these tips to fill your resume gaps.

Create a Focus With This Exercise

Uncertainty in your career future will come through on paper. It’s okay to have a broader focus, but there is an extremely fine line between a wide scope and a chaotic and confusing scope. I suggest perusing the internet and finding 3 positions of similar industries and create a starting point. What 3 jobs interest you the most? Compare and contract these job advertisements to find out what pieces connect to each other. Do they have similar requirements?

The next step in this process is to write down a list of the similarities and differences between all three of these roles. You’ll want to focus more attention on the similar requirements when writing your resume, however you may want to work in a keyword here and there with some of the differences.

Finally, it’s time to figure out how you match up with these positions. Do you actually qualify? If the position asks for 4 years of business management experience, what recent business management experience do you have? Did you run a little league team? Manage a networking club? Perhaps you have this experience from your past. You get the idea of this exercise. Take the time to figure out what actual experience you have even thought it may not seem directly relevant to your chosen field.

Select a Strategic Resume Format for Visual Impact

Now it’s time to figure out how to show this experience. Since you’ll only have about 6 seconds to create your fist impression and show your relevance, the formatting piece is critical! Depending on the size of your gap and goal (total career change vs logical next move) you’ll want to select a format that tells your story best. There are two formats you’ll want to consider: Functional and Chronological. The format that is preferred by recruiters and hiring managers (and me) is the chronological. It’s far less confusing and will lay out your experience in a clear way.

The Best Way to Address Your Gap Dates

Once you’ve selected your strategic resume format, your list of skills, and job description, it’s time to get started. I have many workforce re-entry clients ask me about dates in their positions. My best advice is that it will become obvious you are hiding something if you remove the dates from your resume. Millions of others have left work for many years only to return later. It’s no secret that many 50-plus candidates have spent time parenting It’s not a secret that if you are missing 10 years of experience that perhaps you were at home caring for a family member. If you want to explain yourself, the best place to do this is in the cover letter or interview. Not the resume. Having a position listed as “Domestic Engineer” is not the way to handle this.

Get LinkedIn Optimized and Start Connecting

Regardless of the last time you searched, there is one platform that is a must these days: LinkedIn. If you aren’t feeling social-media savvy, never fear. LinkedIn is an incredibly easy and user-friendly platform to maneuver. If you have an old profile, now’s the time to make sure it’s fully optimized. A LinkedIn profile optimization course will get you up to speed in  no time. Be sure your headline is focused on your future self and then start connecting with as many people as possible. One of the most important profile parts to focus on is the LinkedIn headline. Use this blog post as a guide for how to create a compelling re-entry LinkedIn headline.

It’s Go Time!

Despite any anxiety you may be feeling, just remember: You DO have something to offer a potential employer. It may your superb eye for detail, amazing analytical capabilities, or outstanding communication skills. Perhaps it’s all 3! Show this on your resume, stress it in the interviews, and live up to it in your role. Make yourself a valuable team member for your next organization to set yourself up for a bright new chapter in your life.


If you’re hoping to re-enter the workforce and reduce age discrimination, check out our ageism-busting resume services. Our master resume writers will provide you with a custom resume strategy phone consultation, ATS and keyword optimized resume, and tailored resume that speaks to your strongest career accomplishments and value – everything you need to feel confident, navigate the job search successfully, and put your best foot forward as a 50-plus applicant.

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