INBOX: “Jewel, I used to be able to just network with a few people I knew, make some calls, pass my resume around, and land a good job. But now I have to actively market myself, which is a first for me.”
Yes, the times, the have a’changed. In that magical era gone by (called “the ‘90s”) you would go on an interview and have a message on your answering machine from the employer by the time you got back home.
I used to be a journalist, so I feel compelled to bring you the following news flash: if all you’re doing is recycling the job search methods you used before, you are going to be banging your head against the wall for quite a long time, this time around.
On top of that, in those olden days when you were 30, you didn’t have a ton of experience and you didn’t need to make as much money. But by today, you’ve likely built up a lot of experience and can fit into many different roles, and you’re a much more expensive hire. That’s a combination that can cause plenty of employers to tell you in some form of coded language that, “you’re overqualified.”
So, let’s talk about 3 job search strategies you need to take to make your job search less daunting:
Don’t Just Job Search. Company Search.
Make a list of companies that are least likely to disqualify you because of your age. These companies are ones that target older customers, for example, those in the health care or financial services sectors. They are much more likely to be receptive to you.
Here’s why this is hard: you get more done when you fly through the job boards hitting the “apply” and “submit” buttons for every role that even remotely smells like something you can do.
Really, though? Do you really get more done that way? I know you conduct a lot of activity that way. But activity and productivity are 2 entirely different things.
When you’re just job searching, things come to an end once you don’t get a response, the recruiter asks you if you’d be “comfortable” in this type of environment (translation: a workplace filled with millennials), or the hiring manager tells you, “we’ve decided to go in a different direction.”
But when elevate to a company search, you can pursue multiple opportunities with multiple decision makers in an organization that you like and believe in. If a window closes for you regarding one specific role, another door can still open for you with that same employer.
Stop Casting A Wide Net. In Fact, Cast That Net Off Altogether.
Telltale signs you’re doing entirely too much, while getting entirely nowhere: applying for 300 jobs in 3 months. You can’t do 300 jobs. Period.com. And no, the employer is not going to figure out where you might fit in.
Position yourself as the solution, not the problem. Research to find out what the company is doing right now. That doesn’t come from the “about us” or “company history” pages. (By the way, you do realize that “history” is the opposite of “right now.”)
Get social. I’m not saying just open an account and then sit there. Actually use LinkedIn and Twitter to follow the companies you put on your list (see how this ties into my 1st suggestion above), and then weave in what they’re working on with what you’re saying in your resume and cover letter.
Here’s why this is hard: it requires that you customize your resume and cover letter every time. Yes, it does. But instead of the prospect of that weighing on your mind, let me show you how quick it can be. Regarding your resume, the only parts that should change are your profile / summary and your expertise. You can tweak (not overhaul) these components simply to reflect the language that particular company is using. Most of your experience section can remain the same.
When you position yourself as the solution to the problem, you are leveraging your expertise to demonstrate that you understand the issues the company faces. That’s a far cry from millennials who are significantly less likely to have built the knowledge and experience to come in and solve complex issues.
Own Your Age Like The Valuable Asset It Is.
There is so much talk in this process surrounding hiding or covering up your age. On a very basic level, leaving off the year of your college graduation is a way to do that. That’s fine on paper when you’re not face-to-face with someone. However, once you’re in front of the recruiter or decision maker, don’t seek to hide the facts or otherwise run from them. In short, don’t go in thinking you have to defend your age. You don’t.
Talk about specific examples of when you applied your particular brand of expertise to achieve something for your prior employer – this doesn’t have anything to do with age. Rather, the focus here is on your knowledge.
Here’s why this is hard: literally, every day of the week, when I ask a candidate what they can come in and do for their next employer that will make a difference, the person says some version of the following, “I can put the team together, I can make sure we have all our ducks in a row, and I can get the job done.”
The above means you’ve told me 101% of nothing. #sorrynotsorry. I breathe, smile (through the phone), and say, “And when you’re talking about “the job,” tell me what result you have delivered time and again.” At that point I usually start to hear the beginning of a substantive answer, regarding increasing sales performance in 3 months, realigning the marketing message to deepen audience penetration, or coaching the team to increase productivity over this time last year. These are the specific points to emphasize when conversing with the recruiter or decision maker.
Trying to weed through the job search process doesn’t have to be an overwhelming thing. And being age 50+ is not an automatic killer, by any stretch of the imagination. There’s a free online program coming up, “5 Game-Changing Job Search Hacks For The Age 50+ Job Hunter” in which we talk about the recruiter’s search process and the key factors he has in mind when identifying candidates. Register today and hear the success stories of the age 50+ candidates who got placed in relatively short time frames. Then you’ll know how you can do the exact same thing for yourself.