I read the accompanying story at the bottom of this article and it got me thinking. Older job seekers come to me often citing age discrimination as one of the key reasons for their lack of success in their job search. Despite overwhelming evidence that diversity in the workplace adds to productivity and profitability of organisation and irrespective of geographic location, discrimination still exists. This is reality. Another reality is that business has never been more competitive. Leading companies are embracing diversity in a measure to increase productivity and profitability.
As an older worker, you have gained numerous years of skills, experience, and oh….., one more thing that is quite important, WISDOM. That is the thing that comes from all the mistakes and learnings you made when you were their age. These are valuable capabilities that smart businesses value. As one of the first things I suggest to older job seekers when commencing their job search is to stop and take stock. There are a lot of changes that are happening out there right now and not all of them are bad. It is important to take stock and see how you can benefit from some of those changes. So here are my top 5 tips for older job seekers.
Tip 1 – Start with a map
Think of your your job search as a journey. Before you start a journey you need to know where you are now and where you’re going. You can save yourself a lot of heartache and time if you plan out your job search, what resources you’ll need, what else you’ll need to learn, and who you’re going to speak to for guidance and support. And don’t just look at jobs online. A good place to start is to tap into the Hidden Job Market where as many as 85% of jobs are found.
Tip 2 – determine your value proposition
Most would agree that there are some things that we do really really well and there are other things that we do that are maybe not so good. So what is it that you do really well? And what is it that you don’t do so well. Better still, what is it that you love doing and what do you hate doing? Understanding your strengths and your value proposition can help you articulate to prospective employers and contacts why you would be a great fit for their organisation.
Tip 3 – research your prospects
What do you know about the company that you are applying to? What do you know about their culture, the problems they are facing, their competition or the people that work there? If you don’t know anything about the company, how will you know if they will be a good company to work for? You certainly wouldn’t want more of the type of people or culture in this accompanying article. So take time to learn about your prospective companies. Life is too short to be working in an organisation that will not value your knowledge, wisdom or experience.
Tip 4 – talk your network
It is well known that most successful job searches don’t come from strong connections or their personal friends but from weak connections or acquaintances. It is therefore important for you to network and build your professional connections. However a good place to start is with your personal network. Tell them about your plans. They will provide feedback and suggestions. Also, you never know just who their friends may know. But don’t stop their. Go to industry events and meet with people. If networking isn’t your thing then get some training, because networking can be a very productive use of your time.
Tip 5 – stay positive
Job searching, particularly in a weak market is a difficult and at time soul destroying activity. That’s why its really important that you keep your spirits high. Don’t spend all of your days trolling the internet, get out and about and keep on doing the activities that give you pleasure and make you happy. The best way to go about your job search is by working through your plan and reflecting on any learnings you have gained and working steadily. Remember that life is not just about work. Start the day by reflecting on what there is to be grateful for!
There are always going be companies that are followers rather than leaders, that are not profitable, lack leadership, are unable to integrate change into their business and that eventually fail due to poor management and competition. So you don’t need to work for one. Whilst you might need a job to pay the bills, do you really want to work in a company that doesn’t value your skills, experience and wisdom gained over a lifetime of work? So take time to reflect on your next move. And if you need help or advice, ask for it, particularly if you haven’t started your search yet. It can make the journey just so much easier.