Are you looking for career advice? Perhaps you are in your 40’s, perhaps 50’s or older,…If you are a more experienced technical professional or executive looking for a career opportunity then the chances are it’s difficult for you…
… Tom was a brilliant engineer. Everyone said that of him. When I first met Tom 12 years ago he had been working for a leading engineering consultancy designing shafts for below ground mines based in Johannesburg.
Highly regarded Engineer
With more than 20 years’ experience working across construction, heavy industry, mining and manufacturing, Tom was recognised by his managers for his outstanding contribution. Tom was always willing to help less experienced team members. He was a talented and innovative problem solver and was committed to getting the project completed. Over the years he had helped his employers make millions in consulting fees and probably saved them just as much solving countless problems.
One of my clients desperately needed his skills for a major project they were working on that was running into problems. At the time, Tom was in South Africa and was keen to immigrate to a better place for his family. But he was working with a good organisation and had job security. It took some time but after some negotiations, Tom ended up coming to Australia – on a 457 visa and brought his family with him. They loved Perth and he and his family eventually settled here to become Australian citizens.
But that was during the resource boom. Tom is now unemployed. He lost his job during one of several rounds of redundancies that swept the industry.
Tom had a high level of motivation and determination. He applied for just about every job that he saw on job boards and company website. At first, he got calls from companies and recruiters and went along to eachinterview. Some of the recruiters he met with were hardly out of school.
They told him that he was too experienced or not quite the right fit. He knew he could do the work if he just had the chance to show them. Tom mused that perhaps the reason for his poor interview performance was his age. At 52 Tom felt that he had many more years of professional engineering in him. Deep down he knew that his experience would be an asset for any company that needed a senior engineer.
Eventually, the job interviews stopped. Then the phone calls. Tom lost count of all the jobs that he applied to. He had spent a small fortune on several resume revisions. His ex-colleagues eventually stopped returning his calls as it was always about job openings they might know about.
When I last saw him 2 years ago Tom had not worked as an engineer for 3 years and he had just been rejected for a job he applied to at Bunnings……You guessed it, he was told that he was too experienced to work there. ….but by then all that he wanted was a job to pay the bills.
What a terrible waste of talent! I knew how to fix Tom’s problem. Why wasn’t Tom using other strategies to find work? Why hadn’t Tom sought career advice at an earlier stage? God knows that he needed it. I reached out to try and help Tom but I couldn’t get thru to him. In his mind, it was too late. He had become disillusioned, despondent and bitter.
If Tom had used a different approach to his job search or sought some career advice the story could have had a very different ending. The thing is that traditional job search is very ineffective in a weak economic market. At the end of the day, he may well have needed to transition to another sector with higher demand for skilled workers. But the point was that Tom could have started from a place of strength if he at least started with a plan. But Tom didn’t have a plan and he didn’t know who to turn to for help.
This could be just a depressing tale of how difficult it is for older job seekers to find work. It’s kind of crazy to think that the job that he might have found was not actually in a recruitment page or a classified ad. Instead, it was accessible only to a few. The job or career that suited his talents and skills was hidden from him…. in plain sight.
…….So what could Tom have done to tap into this hidden job market?
Tapping into the Hidden Job Market
How do you penetrate the hidden job market and land that job as a mature job seeker? They say that the hidden job market is not for average job seekers. It’s where talents are recognized and expertise is rewarded. You have to be smart to get in, and that is tip number one.
Be smart to get ahead
Being smart means you must know where to begin and where you must concentrate on. The hidden job market is mostly overlooked. You must know when to strike and how to get ahead of the competition.
So be smart, choose the company or businesses that you want to work in and start your research. Take note of their job hiring trends, find out more about their industry and most of all, find people in your circle who could lead you to the right way.
Be the source of information, the person to trust in your industry
One of the biggest myths that some recruiters believe is that older workers don’t keep on top of industry trends. The fact is that many people fail to keep on top of industry trends – if is not a priority. Believe me, hiring managers to want their employees to know what is happening in the marketplace. So how do you keep on top of industry trends? You can keep abreast of the latest industry trends by attending conferences, seminars and continuous training.
In fact, you want to be the go-to person or the source for the best info. You don’t have to know everything, just the areas that are most relevant to you. This is a great way to help you carve out your niche. Companies will likely hire someone who can perform than someone that they need to train.
Also, as an experienced person, you can show potential employers that you can train or mentor colleagues. You will more likely get referrals if you present yourself as an expert in your field.
Join groups and associations that matter to your industry
Now this is where most hidden job hirings are done. Business managers will likely trust their fellow-members. Or people that are part of their association rather than someone that they have met for the first time. Aside from this golden opportunity, you may also enjoy the perks of easy referrals, faster processing and even higher compensation.
The key is to find the right group to join and this is definitely according to your profession. Business professionals should be a member of a local chamber of commerce. Medical professionals like doctors, surgeons, dentists and nurses, have their own professional associations; similar groups exist for other professions like architects, engineers and accountants among others.
Create a portfolio of your achievements
Just like preparing for any recruitment you must have your resume as well as sample work ready. These should be the very recent significant work that you have done along with your updated resume and other documents. Hidden job market hirings are usually done fast and you need to be ready for anything.
Be creative and at the same time professional. The cost of creating a website now is cheaper than ever. It is also easier than ever with free websites like Wix, or very inexpensive sites like WordPress (I would go for WordPress). You can create your own website or an official site where you can post your work, projects and personal information. Every time you send an email, send links in your mail to your official site to direct potential clients and employers. Make sure to include your website link in every resume submission and of course update your site as soon as something new comes up.
Create lasting relationships with recruiters and human resource personnel
Recruitment and HR personnel could help you find the right job that suits your skills and talents. They can assist applicants during recruitment and job fairs. They can also help you out by connecting you to hidden job market hiring openings. Many recruiters are in touch with hiring companies and know about job openings before they go to market. By constantly following up and taking time to get to know recruiters, you will slowly inch your way to the job that you have been dreaming of.
But be aware…..some recruitment companies may have a global brand but have a high turnover of staff because they flog their workers. You only want to work with recruitment companies that respect their staff and who display professionalism. You can tell this straight away when you talk to a recruiter who you know is only interested in hitting their targets rather than willing to learn about you and what you can potentially offer a company. Or those that won’t return your calls. That applies equally to internal HR resource personnel.
Create and maintain a good LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn will help you keep in touch with people who will help you penetrate that hidden job market. You will find people that are related to your line of work or industry as well as industry leaders, managers, human resource and recruitment professionals and so on. It’s smart to create your own profile in LinkedIn to connect to these people and to create professional relationships as well. Start by looking at profiles of people who belong to your industry to get a clear picture of what you must include in your own profile. Include all recent and significant information and of course link this page to your own website, blog or business site.
Don’t rush; think of the items that you will include in your profile first and update information as necessary. Remember that most managers and recruitment personnel look at online profiles like LinkedIn so make sure that yours is as impressive as it can be.
Use company careers pages
So you have a company or business that you want to be part of? Are you just looking for work via job boards and aggregators? A lot of hiring is done directly between applicants and companies and the only way to find out if there is an opening is to contact businesses through their careers pages.
Some companies may have a list of job openings from their different departments while some do not. Some may have careers pages while some don’t; you must be proactive in looking for openings by using their contacts page.
Better still, why not approach the company directly? Get in touch with companies and ask them if they have openings that have not been advertised yet.
Obtaining career advice
Let’s face it, looking for work at times can be a pretty daunting task. Entering the hidden job market is one way that you can stack the odds into your favour…
…..but it can present a range of challenges…
Challenges of the Hidden Job Market
Entering the hidden job market means you do have been proactive and yes you do have to get out of your comfort zone from time to time and yes it will take you time. But it doesn’t have to be that hard. Job coaches that offer career advice can provide a lot of the training, strategies and support that you might require.
For starters, obtaining career advice will definitely help you to be more confident – hands down. A career coach will also be able to help you plan your job search more effectively, assist you with interviews and even help you with company marketing and research. And a good career coach will help you understand how to network effectively and build your professional connections.
“But getting career advice is expensive” I can hear you objecting. Career advice is going to cost you some money? ….every investment costs money. But when you consider the $10 000’s lost by being out of the workforce for 6 – 12 months (or longer) along with the major career disruption of being out of work for long periods of time, the small investment obtaining career advice should be seen as a worthwhile investment in yourself – not a cost.