Career Shift or Job Search after 50 — Welcome to The New Job Market!
- Employment, Future of work, Job search, Interviewing, Networking, Working longer, Lifelong learning, Career pivot / transitions
by Paula Barrios Sanchez
Finding a new job, shifting careers or starting to work after a break between jobs feels scary for many people regardless of age and it seems particularly intimidating for women 50+. Given the changes in the job search process, it’s understandable to have some trepidation. The good news is that there are strategies you can use to increase your chances of success.
There are many signs when you explore the current job market that suggest having years of experience in the right field and having all the right credentials are all you need to land your dream job. The reality, however, is there are numerous variables involved in a job search process and, in many cases, not much direct feedback to nail down what didn’t work when you applied. Furthermore, not all job possibilities today look like they did before especially considering the growth in jobs for contractors, freelancers and the preference for self-employment.
In this environment, figuring out how to land your next work experience is a unique journey only you can craft; here is some advice from the experts on strategies that are working well:
Present your Superpowers
Yes, you really want to present your superpowers, the exact combination of knowledge, skills and experience that make you the best for the role you want to get. The way you present this information is important. Why? Because, if you are applying through any virtual career portal or job boards, words matter to pass the filters of the minimum qualifications a recruiter is looking for to move you to the next phase of the process. So, it is not only important to update your resume skillfully using a maximum of two pages, but you really want to be careful with the words you choose when filling out an online application.
There are steps to keep in mind during the application process to increase your chances of success like this article on how to get your resume past the system and get into human hands or these tips to beat Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
If you are working to update or enhance your resume here are some additional recommendations to help you highlight your skills:
· Describe what made you successful in your previous roles with focus on the results achieved instead of listing job responsibilities.
· Leave off the specific dates for anything over 15 or 20 years ago, including your educational background. You can share those details in the interview, if required. Instead you might indicate that you worked in a specific position for specific number of years (e.g. 5yrs, 10yrs).
· Include the key words identified in the job posting. This might give your resume a better opportunity to be selected during the scanning process.
· A resume should not exceed two pages. Recruiters and Hiring Managers expect to have a good but general idea of your professional experience at a glance.
· Details of your core competencies proficiency and more descriptive examples of your achievements are part of the interview process.
· Think of your resume as the opportunity for a good and effective first impression.
Look on LinkedIn
Technology is dramatically changing the job market and electronic job boards are the open source option for everyone who wants to explore what type of roles and companies are recruiting. LinkedIn is becoming the biggest open source of information for recruiters, with more than 20 million companies listed on the site and 14 million open jobs; statistics show that 90% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn, making it worth the time and effort to effectively attract the attention you want in the job market.
Some of the suggestions to create or update your profile are:
· Share an interesting headline that presents your areas of expertise and the key words associated to the type of roles you want but make it succinct; you only have 120 characters to show your superpowers.
· As we recommended for your resume, keep the list of jobs from only the last 10 to 15 years and avoid including dates on areas where your age can appear more relevant than the story of success you want to share.
· Embrace how you look with a good picture, a professional photo if possible. Age will show up here but in the way you want to be seen by others. The alternative of not having a picture or having a very dated one will not be much help in the long run.
· Get connected with others and increase the visibility of your profile by expanding your network. If you are not sure where to start, inviting your family or friends can be a good first step. But take it further and find your former colleagues, reach out to alumni, vendors, or clients. Everyone can be a potential link to find the right job opportunity at the right time.
· Post on a regular basis about what you find interesting in your industry, the news or your career development. This will give much more visibility to others and help you to keep you connected.
· Explore LinkedIn features and use them in your favor. For example, If you are currently employed but want to search other options without your employer knowing, activate the “Open Candidates” feature, which only lets recruiters outside of your company know that you are exploring other opportunities.
You can find many other online job boards such as Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor that list job openings, and in some cases, you can even search for sites that target specific populations including this one for people over 50 years.
LinkedIn’s messaging option is also becoming very popular for recruiters who want to reach out to people directly to explore more about specific characteristics and background needed in their organization. These recruiters can work directly for an organization that has an open job or can be a “contingency firm” looking for specific profiles to show a company that has an opening. Keep in mind that contingency firms only get paid upon placing a candidate and companies, in genera,l don’t make exclusive contracts with these types of vendors so there can be multiple search firms presenting similar pools of candidates. Check with the person contacting you to understand what type of recruiting process they are managing for the company so that you can manage expectations upfront.
As you can see, open sources to find job opportunities are very easy to explore on the web and the fact that currently the market is so open also makes it extremely competitive so don’t forget the power of connecting with others and networking as another option to find a job. People can’t help you if they don’t know what you are looking for and research shows that most jobs will not be posted. Think of networking as a targeted process to find the next job opportunity you are looking for. Evaluate options to map your network effectively and to determine how you can expand it in a meaningful way.
People most of the time want to help other people but understanding what type of help you can ask for and how is critical. As an HR Leader many people reach out to me thinking I have all the connections in my organization to find them a job, but the reality is I am not involved directly in the recruiting process of the company. What I offer instead is similar to the advice I’ve shared with you, i.e. how to present your super powers, find additional options to look for job opportunities and how to better target connections or networking.
Manage Expectations and Keep the Right Attitude
There is no one recipe or equation to find a job, but as we have been reviewing here, there are tons of tools to get a better sense of whether your job search strategy has been effective or if there are some other actions you haven’t tried yet that can work for you.
Every story and motivation to find a new career opportunity, to shift the path where you are in your profession or to start your self-employment journey is unique, so managing expectations and keeping the right attitude can make a huge difference because some of the most common feelings associated with a new job search or career shift can be fear or resistance. Fear brings up all those ideas in the back of our head related to what can go wrong or the rejections we might face in the process. And, resistance is the feeling that can put up a wall between us and others, pushing away people who can be an asset helping us in our process to find a new professional path.
Keeping in mind that the emotional component of a professional change is a very important part of the process will help you to focus your strategy not only on what you want to achieve but also how. There are many resources available in this space that you can find on the web. such as Sixty and Me, AARP, some motivational TED talks. Including these tools on your journey will open the possibilities for you to also consider the emotional support you might need.
Finally, I understand this process can be a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. If negative emotions emerge in the process, use those feelings! They can be an effective alert system guiding you to step back from what you’re doing and allowing you to fully explore what you can do new or different to continue the journey to achieve your goals.
This post was originally published on Jun 2, 2019 on Medium.
Paula Barrios Sanchez is an HR Executive with global experience leading Human Capital Strategy Development and Talent Management across multiple industries. Her support of amazing.community has been invaluable.