For a lot of us at middle age, the past five years have not been kind to our careers! Economists keep telling us that the U.S. is in slow recovery but that’s not very convincing if you are 45 or 55 and have been unemployed and job seeking for months, even years!
Are you mired down in the midst of a frustrating job search? You are registered on Monstor.com and have sent your resume all over the Internet but it always seems to end up somewhere in a black hole. You’ve tried networking but your contacts never have a solid connection with anyone who is hiring. You’ve been to several job fairs but you just blend in with the crowd where most fellow attendees are 10-15 years younger. You’ve had a number of preliminary interviews only to get screened out by a Human Resources recruiter. Most disheartening, you’ve had a few promising “final interviews” that seemed to go well but after an agonizing wait you learned that someone else was hired!
If you are like me you’ve asked yourself 100 times, “Why didn’t I get hired?” Don’t you wish you could get into the head of a recruiter to discover the criteria he or she uses to hire certain people and weed others out? I’m not a recruiter, but I recently interviewed one of the best on my Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.” Here are a few suggestions to help place yourself on the inside track for that dream job opening:
- As an initial step, define in as much detail as possible precisely the dream job you seek. In my book, I suggest you write out an “ideal position description.” My guest suggests a “career vision board.” Your subsequent task is to paint a vivid mind picture and to visualize yourself daily as an incumbent performing tasks associated with your dream job.
- Your second step is to research industries and the types of employer (e.g., large or small company, high-tech or people intensive) that presently employs or has need of your dream position.
- If targeting a radical change from prior positions, prepare to offer clear rational as to why you are fully qualified to make the change. For example, if you desire to move from a large company to small, you must demonstrate an aptitude for the uncertainty, long hours and multi-tasking mentality required to succeed in a small business.
- In resume Internet distribution, key words are the overwhelming key. First, you must determine what key words are relevant to your target position. Then you need to include them in the text of your resume, as many times as you can! Recruiter screens will position a candidate who listed a key word three times way above a candidate who listed it only once. If you think 6-Sigma is a keyword and you worked 6-Sigma into projects with three prior employers, for certain list 6-Sigma three times.
- Once a week, take down, refresh and re-enter your resume on major Internet recruiting boards like Monstor.com. If possible, make minor changes each week. Recruiting data bases list the most recent submissions on top, so if your resume is several weeks old, it will be pushed to the bottom, hard to find!
- Use social media to network. LinkedIn is the one absolutely essential social media site for networking but it may help to employ Facebook and Twitter as well. Enter your entire resume on LinkedIn loaded with keywords relevant to your targeted position. Also, let network contacts know that you are seeking a job–most will want to help you if they can. Of course, you will need to be far more subtle if presently employed but seeking a change. Confine networking to individuals not in direct contact with your present boss!
- Social media tactics to avoid: never post silly or embarrassing photos or controversial massages. When seeking new employment, you always should stay away from sports, politics and religion!)
- To get through HR screening, you must appear both passionate and genuinely enthused about the position you seek. A tactic guaranteed to get you weeded out: demonstrate little if any conviction about the employer or position for which you are interviewing. To get hired, be fully prepared to explain with conviction: “I am here because….” (Note: this is your golden opportunity to demonstrate a firm grasp of employer culture and challenges.)
- In the final interview, you have two essential tasks. First, convince the hiring decision maker that your unique combination of kills, experience and passion place you clearly above your completion. (Why I am special.) Second and perhaps even more important, convince your targeted boss that you are both likeable and fully supportive of him or her, your associates and co-workers. Demonstrated skills may be head and shoulders above the competition but if you come across as abrasive, negative, threatening or self-absorbed, you won’t get hired.
- Before the interview, place yourself miles ahead of competition by visualizing yourself as the incumbent, excelling at job-related tasks, fully prepared to discuss challenges faced and ways you can contribute to a long-term solution.
- After the interview, follow-up with thank-you correspondence, but don’t become a stalker. To speed decision making, during the interview it may help to subtly mention all the interviews you have scheduled and your need for an early decision.
- If you hit a brick wall, get back on track by taking initiatives that other job seekers are not taking. Examples are cold calling of executives to seek advice, snail-mailing your resume to potential employers (no one does that any more), walking in the door of promising small businesses, or seeking temporary employment (this often can and does lead to a permanent job.) If you can afford to, also volunteer for projects requiring skills somehow related to the job you seek.
- If over 40 or 50, routinely fight off the notion that no one will hire you because of your age. “Unemployed” is not the same as “unemployable”! If you can demonstrate the “right” mix of skills, enthusiasm and personality, hiring managers will want you as a member of their team, regardless of your age!
You can prosper in job search by taking charge from the word “go” and conducting a pre-planned, positive and enthusiastic marketing campaign with one product to sell: you! By placing yourself firmly in charge of your own search, fully confident that you can make good things happen, you will succeed. Just as you would from a great job, don’t neglect to take occasional breaks for “rest and relaxation” but be certain you remain focused on your ultimate objective: that “dream job” that really doesn’t feel like “work” at all!
For additional job-search tips that recruiters can’t or won’t tell you, tune in to the September 30, 2013 weekly installment of my program “Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age.” I interview top-flight corporate recruiter, Abby Kohut, known far and wide as “Absolutely Abby.” You’ll find our program link on Google, right at the top of the page.