Today's job search is a difficult process. If you're currently out there looking for work, you know the roadblocks, frustrations and daily grind involved in finding a new position. Plus, if you're over 50, you have additional hurdles to overcome. Age bias is real and all too prevalent in the job market. Nevertheless...
There are certain things you can do to make the process easier and far more effective. So take a moment to step back, reassess your strategies and review the 10 Rules for a Successful Job Search:
#1. Heed your #1 success factor: your attitude.
The mind-set you present to others (and to yourself) regarding your viability as a candidate underscores every aspect of your job search. If you are negative, angry or insecure, it will show. Moreover, these attitudes are off-putting to both your networking partners and to potential employers. Make certain, therefore, you are pursuing activities that will elevate your spirits: regular physical activity, volunteering, meeting frequently with friends and joining job search groups where you exchange leads and ideas. These are all important ways you can keep your outlook positive.
#2. Clarify your core message.
Determine what you want people to take away from meeting you and learn to articulate your skill sets, strengths and added value with confidence. Make certain you present a unified brand in your speech as well as in each of your written marketing materials-- branding that highlights both your abilities and distinguishes you from the competition. Think: What makes me an especially strong candidate? Which experiences and skills do I possess that others do not? How can I bring added value to the position?
#3. Pay special attention to your appearance.
Like it or not, your wardrobe and overall attractiveness play a major role in whether or not you will be hired. This is especially true for jobseekers of maturity because popular stereotypes hold them as being outdated and stuck in the past. Your clothing, therefore, needs to be current (but not trendy or trying too hard to look young), clean and relatively conservative. You want to look like you will represent potential employers in the style they would wish--so dress for the job but take it up a notch.
#4. Market yourself in strong, contemporary terms.
Make certain that any of your written marketing materials (resumes, online profiles and personal websites) are packed with key skills that are currently in demand. Use the online postings as a primary research tool and identify the skill sets most requested. If you possess these skills, be sure you cite them frequently. Also, be certain to incorporate industry buzzwords that will show you are up-to-date, knowledgeable and proficient in your field.
- Your work specific, knowledge-based skills (technical skills)
- Your broad-based, transferable skills (ability to prioritize, organize, etc.)
- Your personal traits and strengths (rapport building skills, innovative thinking, attention to detail, contributing team player, etc.)
#6. Be conscious of your nonverbal messages.
Approximately 55 percent of the first impression you present to others is formed by the nonverbal messages you project. Pay special attention to things like your eye contact, posture, handshake, facial expressions and personal mannerisms. As a mature jobseeker especially, you will need to exhibit energy, confidence and enthusiasm. And these factors are best displayed through your nonverbal messages.
#7. Make good use of your time.
Studies show that a minimum of 75% of jobs is obtained through personal referral. This percentage grows even higher for older candidates because, due to the age bias in hiring, mature applicants are less able to compete successfully on their resumes alone. Therefore you will want to spend about 30 hours a week interacting with others. Use your personal friends and colleagues, LinkedIn and other social networking sites to build up your network of contacts--thereby increasing your base of potential referrals.
#8. Ensure that your written materials are eye-catching and pleasing to read.
Recruiters, HR reps and others who source candidates for available positions will spend about 30-seconds determining if your resume/LinkedIn profile is worth their time. This means that you will want to highlight key skills with bullet points and use plenty of white space to draw the reviewers' eye. Paragraphs (even relatively short ones) will bury your important selling points within dense blocks of text.
#9. Identify and prioritize what you want and need from your next position.
Make a list for yourself so that you get very clear on your top five values. Do you require a sense of autonomy and independence in your job? Is it important that you have a certain amount of prestige and decision-making responsibility? Do you need frequent interaction with others so that you contribute to a mutual goal?
In addition to your values, get clear on the practical aspects of work: commute time, salary, benefits and various other realities. Then, when an offer comes up, refer to your list of wants and needs so that you can make an educated choice to accept it or not.
#10. Remain organized.
A job search can quickly get out of hand unless you create some type of system to remain organized and on top of things. You will need to keep track of networking commitments, resumes you've sent out, incoming correspondence from your targeted companies and a vast array of additional data. Creating daily and weekly goals can help. So can designing a personal spreadsheet to monitor your progress. Another great way to manage your search is by using the popular online site, Jibberjobber.com.
If you address and follow each of these 10 Rules, your job search should become far more efficient and effective. The very fact that you are making real progress, moreover, will build your sense of confidence and self-worth. And, best of all, you can expect a positive outcome. Even in today's competitive atmosphere: it's awfully hard to beat an upbeat candidate who combines confidence with cutting-edge skills and the proven track record of a mature applicant!
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in 2014, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!