Want to find work fast? Even more, do you want to land a position that pays well and you will actually enjoy?
You're likely thinking that achieving the above is next to impossible. After all, older job-seekers hear more than their share of discouraging news. The media is filled with unpleasant articles that warn of rampant ageism and lengthy search times. But the statistics cited in these pieces are generalities. In truth, there's a lot you can do to maximize your own chances for success.
Here are three powerful techniques that are guaranteed to move your search forward:
#1 Become the product of choice! To be successful, you'll need to consider yourself a product to be sold in the marketplace of today. And, as any savvy salesperson would, you'll have to identify what's hot in your particular market right now. What are the current needs of your customers? What are their challenges? Who is their competition? How can you provide them with a competitive edge? Your aim is to show employers how "buying" you will help them meet--and even exceed--the goals of their organization.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to use the online job postings as your primary research tool. Prior to initiating your campaign, pull up a minimum of 10 to 15 ads for openings in your line of work. Review them carefully and identify the skills that are requested over and over again. Be sure to note the order in which these requirements are placed. That way you will gain both an accurate reading of the skills that are in the greatest demand and the order of their value to your prospective employers.
Then make certain that each of your marketing materials is well populated with these hot-button skills. You'll also want to provide compelling evidence that you possess these important attributes by citing several examples of how you've used them to make a difference. Your customers (employers) are telling you what they want--so give it to them!
#2 Become highly searchable! The strategic use of keywords is critical. Recruiters (both independent and internal company recruiters), Human Resources and hiring managers are now turning to LinkedIn and other social media sites as a primary tool for sourcing candidates. They're going to find you by the keywords you've chosen to include in your profile. You've already determined the skills that are valued in your industry; now you need to become as highly searchable as possible. So make certain to cite these skills and other valuable industry buzzwords whenever possible.
It is essential that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date, complete, and that it substantiates how you're describing yourself on your resume and in your cover letter. You want to present a unified brand that is both powerful and compelling. You'll also want to distinguish yourself from the competition, which brings us to the third key to your success.
#3 Highlight your unique qualities! In addition to meeting the demands of today's marketplace, be certain to highlight the added value you'll bring as a uniquely qualified individual. What sets you apart? Which talents, attributes and skills differentiate you from other candidates? What experiences have provided you with a unique perspective on your work? Be very clear on the skill sets that distinguish you (especially cross-functional skills) so that you can sell those aspects of your background. Highlighting the fact that you have a "unique combination of X & Y" will show how you can make an exceptional contribution to the goals of the organization. And that can be very attractive to potential employers!
So, as you mount your job search, be sure to incorporate each of these elements into your campaign. It goes without saying that you'll need to put in the hours, network your way through multiple doors and present yourself in a professional manner. But, if you focus on becoming the product of choice, ensuring that you're highly searchable and demonstrating why you are a uniquely qualified candidate, you just might find yourself landing your next job before you know it--regardless of what the media is telling you!
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 February 2013, 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!