Navigating today’s demanding and ever-changing job market is tough—no matter what age you are. If you’re 50 or over, however, learning the ropes can be even more of a challenge. It’s highly likely that it’s been years upon years since you last searched for a job, and the market has changed tenfold since you were in this position.How do you navigate this strange new territory?How do you reach out to the people you want to hire you?Just what is the key to writing resumes that get you hired in today’s world?We have a few tips on things to avoid to help make your search easier.
Regardless of age, it never hurts to learn new things—information, viewpoints and especially skills. Think about the skill set you have now. How well does it sync up with the job listings you’ve seen this decade? Are there any skills you’ve seen that have stumped you, or that you know you have no idea how to perform? Don’t let this become a detriment to you and hurt your chances of getting hired!While you’re searching for a new career, it would serve you well to start looking into expanding your skill set by taking some adult educational classes. If you aren’t good with computers and other electronic devices, now is the time to learn. If you need to be familiar with a certain kind of software to qualify for the positions you’re seeking out, consider seeing if your nearest learning center has classes for it.
A Lacking LinkedIn
You’ve very likely heard of LinkedIn at some point during your professional career. It’s a business-oriented social networking site and has become increasingly important in recent years. Most professionals today use it to network with other people in their industry, meaning if you don’t have a LinkedIn account of your own, you’ll want to invest some good old time and effort into putting one together and keeping it active and updated.You never know who might notice you on LinkedIn, especially since so many of today’s hiring managers use the site to find potential candidates. If you can’t make heads or tails of LinkedIn, you can even hire a professional LinkedIn profile writer to lend you a hand.
Because you’ve been in the workforce for so long, especially as a senior-level professional, you’ve racked up a lot of accomplishments. While this is certainly commendable and even worth acknowledgment, you should keep in mind that by looking for new work, you’re much closer to square one than it may seem. Be humble about your skills, and don’t limit yourself as far as the positions you can acquire. Similarly, you don’t want to be too meek and cheat yourself out of a great position. Simply communicate, connect with every fellow professional you meet and don’t let your personal opinions get in the way of your search.
And don’t forget you can always rely on a professional resume writing service for help with your job search and to help you maneuver through today’s job market!
As a senior level professional, you’ve almost certainly heard of personal branding. Implementing it into your professional life, however, is a very different story. The idea of establishing and maintaining a personal brand is very new after all, having arrived on the coat tails of the Internet and the rest of today’s technology. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time assuming c-level personal branding isn’t worth your time, you may want to reconsider! This is a very important aspect of your professional career, for a few significant reasons.
Personal Branding Sets You Apart
While this line sounds cliché, it is very much the truth. Consider these questions:
- How do you stack up against your competitors?
- Would your degree(s) be enough to convince companies to hire you instead of someone else?
Thousands of other people hold the exact same academic achievements as you. Plus, the longer you’ve been out of school, the less your academic career matters. It’s the sad reality that many people face.
Rather than focusing on this, look back on the other accomplishments you’ve earned within your field. Think about who you are as a executive and a person. Personal branding for senior level managers involves getting to the meat of these two concepts. It involves presenting your positive qualities and expertise in a way that appeals much more readily to those in charge of hiring you.
You’ll Experience a Quality Jump with Your Job Search
Naturally, focusing on your skills and personal talents boosts your own self image. This means you will become far less likely to settle for just any position that matches your skill set. You will gradually start to approach your job search in a different way as your personal brand gains more and more attention. Once this happens, it will enable you to think about what you really want from a company and what conditions you are not willing to deal with.
As a result, you will start to push forward with your professional life and only accept those who meet your newfound standards. If the idea of constant professional growth appeals to you, then you’ll want to put together your personal brand as soon as possible.
Your Personal Brand Gains You More Benefits and Professional Success
Simply put, a personal brand boosts your chances of being hired. It creates a clear picture of your strengths and what you can offer a company, which will appeal quickly to employers. If you’re currently struggling with your job search, a personal brand may help you finally find the position you’ve been so diligently seeking in ways you could never have anticipated!
You never thought this would happen to you, but it has. You’re 50+ in age and find yourself suddenly out of work, struggling to keep your head above water in a job market you no longer recognize, which bears no resemblance to the Greensheets and wanted ads you pored over during your youth. What should be a time for planning for your retirement is now filled with uncertainty, stress and scrambling to recover from your loss.
We understand what a shock this can be. The job market has indeed changed tremendously and will take some adaptation if you want to find success. If you are 50 or over and trying to find work, we dedicate this article for you. Follow these tips to help the process of getting back on your feet go a little more smoothly.
Research Your Prospects
Unfortunately, not all companies are receptive to older workers and seek out only those of younger generations. You don’t want to accidentally wind up in an office culture that’s unwelcoming to you. Look for companies currently experiencing turnover, as they and you will have similar goals—maintaining a long-term position in your field.
Work on Your Resume
This is especially true if it’s been a very long time since you’ve pounded the pavement, so to speak. If you haven’t already been keeping your resume up-to-date, you’ll want to modernize it as soon as possible to help boost your appeal to employers. You’ve racked up all sorts of great experience over the years, after all. Now it’s time to put it to use and show it off! Of course, you’ll have to adapt your resume to suit what today’s employers are looking for.
Focus on your strengths and tailor your resume to the types of positions you’re seeking out. Nailing your resume can be a tough job, even for those who have been immersed in today’s job market more recently. If you find you need a little extra help, you can always turn to a team of the best professional resume writers!
If your industry or former company is particularly stagnant, you may not have had to learn or deal with many of the technological requirements you’ll need to know for today’s jobs. Try enrolling in an adult learning course to brush up on your skills if you find yourself being hit with the same skill you lack over and over. This will look great to your prospective employers, as they will know you’re willing to embrace change and can bring this can-do attitude with you into their office.
Simultaneously, you may want to learn more about LinkedIn profile development and how you can utilize LinkedIn to network efficiently with other people in your field (and your shoes)!
Make no mistake about it: job boards are a thing of the past. In the past, you may have posted your resume on a job board and had a reasonable shot at getting a new job opportunity; however, the way skilled workers find jobs has changed. The vast majority of these boards have become black holes for your executive bio and resume.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and, most notably, LinkedIn are beginning to make traditional job boards obsolete. Recently, around 2-4% of people posting resumes on a traditional job board found employment. Individuals employing networking tactics on various social media sites found a career 40-50% of the time.
We’re not mathematicians, but it seems like networking is just a little bit more successful for most seeking employment. If you look at things from a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s standpoint, we can see why. Would you rather hire someone you only know from a piece of paper or an individual who has been personally recommended to you by someone you know and respect?
Your job search doesn’t have to be rocket science. Here are a few more reasons why traditional job boards don’t work:
- The Black Hole
Companies get hundreds, if not, thousands, of responses to online job board postings. Then they send every resume to a system that reviews and ranks their skills, experience and more. The hiring manager only looks through the top 10-20% of resumes sent in. The vast majority of resumes never even see human eyes when you submit via a job board.
- Not the Best Gigs
Most of the best jobs never even hit the jobs boards. Many hiring managers have stopped posting on these boards altogether. Companies have started using recruiters and networking to find the right type of talent without having to spend days under hundreds of resumes.
- The Wrong People
When you submit your executive profile to a job board, you’re not putting your information in front of any decision makers whatsoever. Your resume ends up in front of a lackey whose job is to reject you for any reason. If you want to get in touch with someone who can make a decision, you’re much better off using social media sites and developing your networking skills.
- LinkedIn is King
If you get a hiring manager to speak honestly, they prefer to find candidates through LinkedIn more than any other way. LinkedIn is up-to-date and current. Successful employees use LinkedIn to further their career. People with decision-making power know this. That’s why they use the site to find the people they really want to hire before aggressively pursuing the candidate.
Getting Back in the Game?
Are you looking for employment? Ready to dust off the ole’ executive bio and profile? If so, you’ll want to be on the top of your game. It’s a competitive job marketplace out there, it’s important to give yourself an edge whenever you can. Successful job seekers know how to work their network and find the best job.
This time of year is legendary for having too much to do but not enough time, too much to buy but not enough money, and too much stress but you are supposed to be happy. It affects our workplace, our home life, and our future because stress affects the health of the body. So what does the busy executive focused on moving up the career path and having a life at the same time do about feeling so bad?
Rethink Your Expectations
Sometimes it helps to write down “the way the holidays are supposed to be” in every detail you can come up with. Then look at your fairy tale and notice how many of those expectations are not in your control or don’t matter as much as they once did.
Some families and individuals decide to pick the top priorities for their season and forget about doing the rest of it. What would your holiday look like if everybody picked one thing that was important to them? What is it about that thing that makes it important? It could be that the major cookie house competition was fun because it was goofy, not because you used home-baked cookies. Graham crackers and fruity cereals work just as well for goofy fun and are easier to do. A holiday without so much burden on people is enjoyable and refreshing, the way it’s supposed to be.
Accept Your Imperfections
This kind of goes along with expectations, but on a personal level. If you think that people come to your house to see how beautifully decorated and organized it is, you are mistaken. Most folks don’t care about the details: they want to feel like you like them more than you like your house. I tell myself that at least they will feel better about the mess they left at home when they see mine. People aren’t comfortable with perfection because people aren’t perfect.
At the office, the same thing happens when we mistakenly think we have to have our act totally together before we are accepted. But think about the people you work with — who is more approachable, the perfectionist pretender or the person who accepts their mistakes with a laugh and does what they can to learn from them?
Orient Your Focus
Whatever the holiday, there’s a reason for it. If you celebrate that holiday, then use the celebration to think about the reason it exists in your life. For most cultures, the holidays are times to reorient the focus to what is important in life. It’s a pause and a reminder, giving time to figure out what your non-holiday life should look like.
That means work, whatever your career is. Pick one thing in your career goals to do after the holidays are over (maybe consult a career coach) and let the things you bring out of a less-stressed holiday get you going in the weeks afterward.
Switching your career path can be a challenging time. There are a lot of difficult choices to be made, and after you’ve decided to leave your current field, you may be nervous about finding a new career with an executive resume that may not match the jobs you’re looking for. Reflecting your career change on your resume will help your new employers understand your switch and get a better sense of why you’re a good fit for your new career.
Updating Your Resume
When it comes to executive resume writing, it is important to show employers what skills you possess and how those skills would benefit their company. Even though your former career path may be different, it is likely you have many transferable skills that will still be relevant to your new job.
You can use your core qualifications to sell yourself in different ways, depending on the industry you’re trying to enter. The trick is to slant your current skills to be relevant for the job you’re seeking. Using the following steps, you can make your executive resume and cover letter for your resume work for a different industry.
It is tempting to use your past resume and make some changes here and there. However, you’ll be much better off if you avoid the urge to take this easy route and start from scratch instead. After all, a new career means a new executive resume! With a new cover letter, as well as a new resume, you will be able to start slanting your skills toward your new field from the start, making it even more effective.
In all likelihood, your interest in your new field didn’t just happen overnight. You’ve probably been interested in the industry for years but were simply working in another. Use your new executive resume to tell your interviewers why you’re interested and what you know. This knowledge will help you seem interested, dedicated and ready for your change.
A traditional experience-based resume may not be enough for your career change. Instead of listing all the skills you have and have used in your previous job, you need to put all the focus into your transferable skills.
Use your cover letter for your resume to really sell yourself. A lot of people become less confident when they change careers because there are plenty of people with more experience looking for the same jobs. Really hone in on your transferable skills, your accomplishments and your love for your new field in both your cover letter and resume.
Changing careers can be challenging, but with enough confidence, you can show potential employers why you deserve the opportunity to use your experience and knowledge to make a difference in your new field.
I used to know a man who always used his middle initial. Even a quick note would be signed with his name & that middle initial. After a while, it started being a bit of a joke, but it isn’t a bad idea to use your middle initial professionally because middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance according to a research study in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
That study found that people think an author is more intelligent if there is a middle initial; more middle initials in an author’s name look smarter still. How does this play out in the working world?
Think About The Impact Of Your Name
Your name affects your brand — the overall impression people have of who you are. Think of this name: William Henry Gates III. He sounds like a different guy than W.H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than William H. Gates, who sounds like a different guy than Bill Gates. One of the richest guys in the world doesn’t need to use his middle initial because he has achieved a brand recognition for his ‘everyday’ label. But should you?
One of the advantages of using a middle initial is the clarification of who you are. When you are applying for that job and your name is John Smith, using a middle initial helps identify which John Smith, John Q. or John W. It also can help when you set up your professional email address. On your resume, using your professional name — with that middle initial — has been proven to make you look smarter according to that study mentioned above.
Saving the nicknames for a more casual setting in the workplace is usually a good idea because here you are developing a different sort of network. There’s usually a dynamic in each workplace that will determine how casual your name can be without losing the impact you hope to have. Names create images, and your brand is nothing but image if you think about it.
What if your name is not as professional-sounding as you’d like? Here’s where those initials can be career-savers. If your name is Pinky Baby Johnston and you want to be taken seriously as an account manager, P.B. Johnston sounds a lot more like someone a client would trust. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way our minds work.
One of the more important things you learn as you move up the career ladder is that it has all kinds of crazy switchbacks putting you back in contact with the people you used to work with. This is particularly true when you stay in the same industry, but it happens for all of us no matter where we move in our job path. Think of all the “old friends” you have on Facebook and you’ll see what I mean. Who knew you’d be in contact again?
Burning Bridges Usually Is A Bad Idea
It’s very tempting to tell an annoying co-worker or aggravating boss exactly what you think of them when you hand in your resignation. After all, you are quitting so you don’t have to live with the consequences, right?
These are the people who give you references, and who will be talking about you in the months ahead. Nowadays that gossip goes online in moments and is there for a potential employer to find. We all have to work on reputation management, when you think about it. So what should you do instead when you have been looking for another job and finally can move out of your old one?
Leave Your Connections Intact
You can’t make everybody like you, but you can be responsible and professional up to the end of the job. Many ask how much notice should be given when leaving a job. The standard two weeks notice is probably the best idea. One young professional had been looking for a new position with her manager’s encouragement since attempts to move up in the company continually fizzled. When offered a position in a new field, she was asked if she could start right away. This is how she told the story:
I knew that my manager would be okay with the idea of me leaving right away, but it would be leaving them in the lurch as they tried to fill my position. I told my new boss that I really thought I should give them at least two weeks notice and asked if he was okay with that. He said that he would get back to me.
When he spoke to me again, he said that the more he thought about it, the more he liked that I respected my previous employer’s need for the full two weeks and that he would hope his employees offer him the same respect. So I start in two weeks.
This young woman has the right idea. Her last two weeks at her old job will be good ones, and she hasn’t burned any bridges if someday she wants to come back.
The Muse is a good site for workplace advice and recently gave us 8 Communication Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making. It’s a compilation of suggestions from various sources and, really, it’s common sense. Here’s the quick list of these common mistakes:
- Keeping an old subject line for a new topic — start a new subject line if you change the topic in an email chain.
- Emailing when the issue is urgent — call, text, or talk directly to someone you need an immediate response from.
- Using big hand gestures when speaking — makes you seem less powerful.
- Using buzzwords & phrases — just say it in plain language.
- Only speaking to a group one way — use a variety of styles to get the point across.
- Asking questions that get a short answer — get past “yes” and “no” to the real stuff.
- Apologizing when it’s not your fault — express sympathy without taking the blame.
- Finishing other people’s sentences — it’s rude.
These mistakes are easy to make when you are busy or thinking about a project instead of the people around you. But if there are too many instances where you make these types of mistakes, you may be creating a reputation you don’t want. Reputation management and your career are intertwined. he way others in the workplace view your ability to communicate will affect everything from being on the next team project to getting a promotion. It also affects the references you are given.
It isn’t difficult to make mistakes in communication, but it also is easy to fix them. All it takes is being mindful of the ways you express yourself and aware of the way your communication efforts are being received. If you suddenly realized you do something on the list, start working to change that and see what happens in your workplace dynamics. Good things happen when communication is good.
It was interesting to see the comments on Anna Akbari’s DailyWorth post. “Don’t Dress for the Job You Want” is a statement that seems to fly in the face of the general consensus on working wardrobes. But she does make some good points to consider when dressing to express yourself instead of your position:
- demonstrate that you get it
- connect with your audience
- exude confidence
Context is Everything
Those first two points are a reminder that we work with other people. The way we dress does affect how others react to us, and it’s naive to insist it doesn’t matter. To quote Ms. Akbari, “demonstrating that you understand the unwritten dress codes and larger ethos of any given context is the first rule of successful self-presentation.”
You have to connect before you can communicate, and if everyone around you is wearing a “uniform”, it shows they are all part of the same group culture. Wearing at least part of that uniform, or wearing the uniform in an acceptably unique way, will be a signal that you belong even though you are a bit different. If you don’t care about the group, you don’t try to connect or get what they are about — and at that point, why are you working there? In an interview situation, why are you saying you want to work where you don’t get the group’s culture?
There are times when a unique status symbol is an investment tool, but it entirely depends on the group you are in. Cowboy boots communicate one thing in Dallas and a different thing in D.C., but there is more to the symbolism than identity. If those boots are high-quality and well-kept, the wearer is signalling confidence even if everyone else is in tied-up Oxfords. That confidence is important, because you need it however you dress. If wearing a unique item makes you feel more like “yourself” and gives you confidence, that’s good. But make sure you are respecting the context of your surroundings.