Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Late 50s Job Search Challenge

I know a couple of women, late 50s, who are having trouble finding jobs. Both have much work experience, a healthy personal network and seem like very capable people. One took off a few years to care for elderly parents and has been looking for a job now for well over a year. The other quit a job a year or so ago and has been looking since then. Both have had interviews where it was down to them and someone else, but no sale. Needless to say, they are getting discouraged.

This troubles me. A lot. After all, it could be any of us. Why is it that they are having trouble?

I am working on some articles on the topic which will be showing up on WomenBloom over the weeks to come, but I wanted to comment on a lunch conversation I had yesterday with Kate McLagan, VP for Client Services for the Right Management company in Austin, Texas about this issue of older women having a hard time finding employment.

I came away realizing that it takes quite sophisticated job search skills these days to have success. Ladies, ladies, ladies. This issue is partly a societal thing, but a significant responsibility is on us to stay current if we want to be relevant.

Kate points out that job search strategies are a much different beast than they were a mere 5 years ago. That made me wonder how many of us 50 somethings are up to date on our job search skills. And let me tell you, ‘job search’ encompasses a huge number of skills and competencies. I realized shortly into the conversation I wasn’t as current as I should be.

Some of the pearls of wisdom I gleaned:

• Basically a job search is now a sales and marketing campaign with you selling yourself.

• You don’t get a job with a resume. But, there is an art to making networking work for you. Find help with this to keep from wasting time.

• You have to begin by getting your verbal and written strategies/materials in place. This includes distilling your particular gifts into 3 or 4 ‘diamonds’. If you skip this step, you can count on doubling the time it takes to find a position.

• Too many times, we are ‘trying to get a job’ rather than figure out what our role in the company could be. We are aiming at some box defined by a job description, rather than thinking about (and helping the hiring manager see) the broader picture of how our particular gifts fit with the organization’s goals.

• We need to understand broader trends that are driving change in our industry to keep ourselves current.

There is more but the basic idea is we need much more sophisticated skills these days to find work than many of us have. Or, many of us realize we need.

For my two women friends, it has been from 3 to 5 years since they engaged in their last job search. Things have changed. Get help.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a timely post, given the state of the economy. I am sometimes cranky about my current employment, but I stay because I'm afraid of exactly what you're describing.


Allison said...

Ms Meta,

Yes, it is scary. I guess I was naive about this, but it's sinking in that this is a problem I could face. Yikes, not pleasant to think about.

Thanks for your comment!


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