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How to Compete With the Kids for Jobs

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Any job-seeker of a "certain age," as the saying goes, knows how difficult it is to land a quality job, especially after being laid off and lacking current job experience to leverage when seeking a new position.

According to The Wall Street Journal , about 3.5 million U.S. adults between 45 and 64 were out of work through mid-2012, with 39% of those numbers unemployed for a year or longer. While the unemployed rate for middle-age workers is about half of their 20-something counterparts, it's much harder for a 50-year-old to land a good-paying job with benefits than a younger, cheaper and -- fair or unfair -- potentially more energetic 25-year-old.

Sure, experience counts for a great deal with hiring managers, and experience for middle-aged workers is a great card to play when talking to a potential employer about a new job.

But there are other cards up the sleeves of the 45-64 set that are either are ignored, forgotten or unrealized. And not playing them can really cost an older worker in a highly competitive job market.

So says Harris Allied , a New York City-based executive recruiting firm. Managing Director Kathy Harris has some definite ideas on how older workers can use their experience and savvy to land a great job, and it all starts with managing expectations.

"These job-seekers need to be ready to compromise on their salary requirements as well as the industry they want to work in. And they should consider both consulting arrangements and full-time employment," Harris says.

Middle-aged job-seekers need to make a compelling case to employers, and that's where a "career-narrative" can be a game changer.

"Job-seekers with some 20 or 30 years' experience bring a lot to the table in terms of workplace savvy and real-world expertise," Harris says, "but they need to be able to tell that story in a compelling way. Having a two- or three-page resume is not enough. They need to develop a career narrative from beginning to end to tell their career story. I recommend these job-seekers rewrite their resume from scratch rather than merely updating it. This way you can take a more holistic look at all the skills and expertise you bring to the table and tell the story in a more streamlined fashion."

The multipage resume is another nonstarter, Harris says. That's particularly so if the resume is weighted toward jobs and career achievements that are a decade or two old. It's also a good idea to get a professional to review your resume and suggest improvements.

"Make sure you give the reader a good picture of the trajectory of your career. Lastly, even though resumes are submitted online these days, appearance matters. The best move would be to consult with a recruiter who can offer you guidance on how your resume reads and looks to potential employers," Harris says.