50 Plus Workers Need to Embrace Technology

In the new Robert DeNiro movie, where the seasoned actor plays a 70-year-old job intern at a tech company inhabited by mobs of with-it Millennials, CEO Ann Hathaway notes that he's on Facebook.

"Yeah. I joined about 10 minutes ago," DeNiro says.

In my book 50 Plus! Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life I point out that if you're a 50-plus job-hunter in the 21st century that just doesn't cut it. You have to be online, with a solid and informative presentation for yourself, whether you like the social media/Internet world or not.

Your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, which people may view before they ever meet you, conveys a lot of information about you. And unlike Google, which can ambush you in unexpected ways, they will allow you to control what people see there. (And if you don't have an online presence? That also sends a message.)

A few years ago, posting your résumé online seemed like a downright dangerous thing to do. Today, posting your résumé online at sites like LinkedIn makes it possible for people to find you.

Although LinkedIn does have a job board, the primary reasons for joining are that it ties you into a constantly-increasing professional network, brings you to the attention of people you might not have thought to contact, and makes it easy for people to connect with you. It also allows you to establish and define an online profile that is specifically geared to your professional goals.

Many people also create their own websites, which gives even more control and can display examples of your best work. You can link to it from Facebook or LinkedIn, or from your online résumé, and drive traffic to a portfolio that really shines.

As for Facebook, it seems more casual, so you may be tempted to dismiss its importance in a job search. But employers in increasing numbers are likely to look up your Facebook page. From their point of view, it's a way to learn something about you without actually having to set up an interview. So make sure that your Facebook page represents you well. And if you don't have a Facebook page? I wish I could say it doesn't matter. Today, it does.

Conventional wisdom says that eighty percent of the jobs that you hear about will come directly from people you know. Given the rising dominance and range of online networking, I would not be surprised if the actual number turned out to be even higher.

Until recently, expanding your network meant establishing connections with as many people as possible and handing them your card. It was a slow process that favored the extrovert. Then along came Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social media, and everything changed. Extroverts still have an easier time, but being an introvert isn't the same liability online that it is at a party. Even if you're shy, cultivating a strong online presence is a good way to expand your network.

People who are resistant to the computer - and most of those people are north of 50 - are making a gigantic mistake. If you're not up to speed technologically, you don't stand a chance. At minimum, that means being comfortable with a computer, a smartphone, and possibly a tablet or e-reader. It means being at least somewhat acquainted with social media, understanding the rules of email and texting, and being able to navigate your way around the Internet without begging a teenager for help.

Is it easy? Frankly, no. But understand: Coming across as a Luddite is not charming. It brands you as someone who cannot keep up and, in many cases, it irritates people. Who wants to be in that position?

If you have to take a course or hire a tutor to keep up with current technology, do not hesitate to do so.

Robert DeNiro succeeds in The Intern because the script was written that way.

With your online presence, it's up to you to write your own script, and write it for success.