Recent graduates, full of enthusiasm and expectation, agonize about finding their first job. Young adults are trying to reconcile working life and the busiest years of their lives, to bring the two into steps with each other. Those approaching middle age reflect on their own professional choices: someone dares to jump onto a less-trodden path, to try something completely new. But when it comes to the labor market for the over-50s crown, the tone of discussion too often becomes negative, and – sad to say – turns to the difficulties of finding work.
Finding work is the sum of many factors. The jobseeker is actually able to influence some of these factors, whether they have a work history of one year or decades. With this in mind, I have gathered here a number of hints on how to improve one’s chances of finding work at a more advanced age.
Hirers care about expertise, not years of work or rank
I have heard a large number of experienced professionals complaining that when it comes to hiring, companies place no value on experience. I’d like to put this claim to rest once and for all: there is no doubt that employers value the skills that expertise brings.
The question is often about either jobseekers presenting their experience in years and titles, rather than emphasizing know-how, knowledge and skills that interest employers. The question is often about either jobseekers presenting their experience in years and titles, rather than emphasizing know-how, knowledge and skills that interest employers. Some time ago, a person who had just completed a doctoral asked me whether PhDs are valued in the labor market. I answered the question in the same way as I would regardless of the enquirer’s educational or professional background: employers are not interested in titles, but in what’s behind them.
Often, what is at issue can also be the fact that the employee is expected to bring to the company more than just hard substance. Employers are of course eager for knowledge, but also, and increasingly, for attitude, motivation, and personality. People looking for a job now have to give more of themselves than before, because employers want to know more than just the basic facts relating to one’s skills and qualifications.
Job-hunting rests on a strong professional identity
Trust in one’s own expertise and professional value is key to effective job seeking. If you are unable to convince yourself of the value of what you’re doing, it’s a sure bet that you won’t be able to convince anyone else.
The various social media are easy to follow, and employers too value open paths for showcasing one’s professional identity, professional interactions and discussion of trends in the field in question.
There are other ways too, of course: for unemployed people, a professional identity and skills can be maintained through hobbies, study, or volunteer activities, for instance. A friend of mine, when unemployed for a few months, offered their expertise part-time for a couple of months to an organization advocating child rights. During this person’s period of unemployment, they remained strongly attached to work, and maintained and developed their skills and created new networks. So when applying for jobs, my friend able to show prospective employers an impressive list of achievements from the period of being out of work.
The amount of applications sent is not an end in itself
For finding a job, the quality of applications is more important than the quantity. The quality of job application documents means, first and foremost, targeting one’s applications, and summarizing the clarifying the essential information.
Generic applications are almost always alien to the everyday challenges facing an employer. In other words, a given number of applications sent per week or per month is an extremely poor goal for job-hunting (at least, on its own). A basic résumé is no longer enough. The search documents – no matter what form they take whether – must be targeted and personalized. If you’re searching for a specific position, your application documents should respond to that job advertisement, and the expectations, criteria, and opportunities stated in it. If you are sending an open application to an organization you’re interested in, you must of course explain what exactly you want to offer that organization, and why. If you’re about to update your LinkedIn profile or homepage of your job seeking campaign, before anything else you should consider what are the job-hunting aims and the main points that you want to communicate to potential employers.
Mastering job-hunting 2.0
The recruitment and job search culture have evolved considerably over the last few years.
Job seeking is no longer a question merely of accumulated years and the height of one’s stack of degrees and diplomas. The emphasis is increasingly shifting to the future: the jobseeker’s desire to learn, develop, and create new things. Job seeking has developed into marketing one’s own skills and expertise, and making these visible. A person’s own history, skills, and visions of the future must be articulated and presented in a fresh way. The recruitment media have also become more varied, and recruitment has become an egalitarian, interactive dialog between the employer and job-hunter. Adopting the modern job seeking culture requires initiative and activity. For motivated and professional experts, there should be an up-to-date, inspiring, and modern guide to modern job seeking culture and paths. This issue has kept us preoccupied for a long time, so we decided to meet the need and try something that’s new to us. This week sees the launch of our three-step job search coaching, focusing specifically on the secrets to modern job-hunting.
Be reasonable with yourself
You should remember that job seeking is seldom easy or straightforward. On the contrary, it’s often hard on the emotions, a rollercoaster ride of failures and successes, dreams come true, and bitter disappointments. You haven’t failed as an expert or as a person even if your inbox is flooded with messages saying “Thanks, but no thanks”. Also, go easy on yourself: be sure to take a break from job searching.
I wish you good luck, and above all, enthusiasm and courage for job-hunting!