Category Archives: Jobs and Careers

Job Search Tips for the 50+ Crowd

Job Interview

I recently viewed a webinar called, “5 Simple Tips to Beat Age Discrimina​tion in Your Job Search” which was publicized in a LinkedIn group called, Jobs, Career Coaches and HR ” Interns Over 40.  With the exception of the heavy-duty sales pitch at its conclusion, the speaker, Carl Chapman offered some powerful job search tips for the older job seeker.

As most job seekers ought to know by now, a resume should be viewed as a marketing piece.  Job skills, tasks, and responsibilities should be expressed in terms of accomplishments.  In that we mean, dollars and cents.  Simply saying that you “were responsible for” preparing monthly financials or the annual budget is no longer deemed effective.

Imagine being a hiring manager.  You want to know why he/she should hire you.  If you said that as the finance manager you saved the company $1,000,000 or as a sales manager you increased sales 20%, wouldn’t those statements be more impactful than stating “you were responsible for…”

At a job interview, appear enthusiastic and energetic – have a “spring” to you step, said Chapman.  If you exercise on a regular basis, it’s bound to show.  if the interviewer asks what you did over the weekend, please don’t sound like a couch potato.  Avoid saying you were knitting, crocheting, or watching sports.  You don’t want to appear sedentary.  In other words, you should project a youthful image.

When interviewed, be sure to convey what you can do for the company.  Discuss what you bring to the table. Chapman suggested sharing what you plan on accomplishing over 30,60 or 90 days if hired.  It’s an interesting strategy that could be a bit too bold, I’m afraid.  However, a toned down version could prove to be effective.

Give the interviewer the impression you’re open to change. If you know you will be working for someone younger, let them know you’re coachable and are open to constructive criticism.  If necessary, work with a career coach or engage in role playing exercises with someone younger than you are.

Ask questions about the company and the industry.  Seek out the interviewer’s opinion.  A little bit of flattery might not hurt.

To counter the assumption that older workers are not tech-savvy, be sure to maintain an active presence online.   So, join groups and submit postings in groups or post updates in LinkedIn.  Lastly, take the time to keep current.

A Toast to Starbucks!

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Here is a testimony that sheer grit and determination can help you land the job you want.  Recently,  I was working with a job seeker who was over 50 with a multi-year gap in employment.  She had taken time off to serve as the primary caregiver for a an elderly parent followed by a paid stint as  a caregiver position through a home care agency.

At the time we met, she decided now was the time to conduct a job search in earnest.  With a fresh eye, I helped her tweak her resume to emphasize her strengths and weed out what was no longer relevant. We were talking about companies that might be interested in her skills and abilities when one day, she said, “How about Starbucks? I replied, Gee, it sounds like fun and so did she!

So, Ann (different name for privacy) applied for a position at Starbucks and lo and behold in no time, she had an interview lined up. Admittedly, I was a bit dubious about where this process was going to go. “This was not really happening – an older woman getting an interview at Starbucks? She’s got to be kidding!” She asked me for some advice about what to wear and what to say at that momentous occasion. I made my suggestions fearing that her fate could be in my hands if my opinion was apt to be all wrong. But, within a week, she landed the job!

Thank you Starbucks! You turned one person’s life around! They have a bargain as well – a hard worker and a conscientious one!

A Better Way to Work a Job Search

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Recently, I was scanning some posts in some LinkedIn groups written by job seekers who were soliciting their availability or skills with the hope that someone might come forward with the perfect career opportunity.  Hypothetically, the posts could have been as follows:

  • “I am relocating to San Francisco and I’m looking for a marketing position…. Does anyone know about any such jobs.”  or
  •  “Please have a look at my resume or profile to see if you know a company who could use my skills and expertise.”

To me, it’s wishful thinking if you think this approach is going to work.  Don’t expect much to materialize when you wait for the jobs to come to you.

At some point, whether you’re applying for jobs that are listed on job boards,  being filled by recruiters, or beating the pavement on your own, you need to show that you can provide a valued service. See what Thomas Friedman, the respected journalist for the New York Times writes in his piece called, “How to Get a Job”.  The importance of providing adding value, cannot be said enough.

Ask the right questions

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Are you a master at addressing new people you meet, engaging them by asking the right questions? Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, in their book, Power Questions emphasize that focused questions will help you build relationships and win more business.

It makes sense. Most people are flattered when you express an interest in them. When you ask open-ended questions of a new acquaintance or  of a new client, you set the stage where you can actively listen letting the person opposite you  do the talking. Listening is a powerful tool when you take the effort to absorb and synthesize what you are hearing.

Here are several useful tips from Power Questions they the authors refer to as the Socratic Approach:

Instead of “telling”, ask.
Instead of “being the expert”, encourage others to share their expertise.
Instead of “controlling knowledge”. Obtain the experiences of others.

Now for the one I like the best:
Instead of “showing people how smart you are”, “show others how smart they are.”

So, the next time, you are meeting someone new, see what you can learn about your new acquaintance by asking the right questions.

Just Say “No” to Job Boards: Say “Yes” to Social Networking

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A few weeks ago, while I was hanging out at an airport en route to Nicaragua for a cycling vacation, I happened to notice an interesting article about the importance of of networking when looking for a job (Unfortunately, I don’t recall the source).

Did you know that applying for jobs on Monster, CareerBuilder and the like could actually hurt your chances of landing a job?  Apparently, some corporate recruiters regard those job seekers who rely on online applicants as losers.  Yes, losers.

So, what does that mean? You have to rely on Linkedin, Twitter, etc. even more.  Go ahead and connect with people at companies where you would like to work.  Find out if you can have a few minutes of their time to find out key information and share what you have to offer.

Be sure to join groups to broaden your network to increase your odds of having Linkedin connections within your reach (2nd level).

Lastly, be visible online. Read the article How to Say ‘Look at Me!’ to an Online Recruiter which appeared in The New York Times by Phyllis Korkki.  Recruiters and employers are looking for candidates who are technologically “with-it.”

Dare to Try Something New or Different

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It’s a new year and it’s the time to apply the word (new) to whatever you are doing – whether you are looking for a job or running a small business.  If the old routines are getting you nowhere, get out and do something bold and daring! 

For job seekers, start making some bold moves, if you’re not doing it all ready. It’s time to take a different approach. Knock on doors, go to networking events, make some phone calls.  Why not find out what worked for others. Meet with recruiters, employment agencies, job coaches.  Ask them to review your resume.  Find out what they think about your job search strategy.  Check out a book for job hunters from the library.  Then, go ahead and apply a new strategy.

The clock is ticking.  No procrastinating allowed.

Convey Your Message in Three Minutes: the Successful Elevator Speech

In our daily lives, we all have to communicate to influence the actions of others.  Sales people in particular know this fact of life very well.  They have to gain someone’s attention and they may only have a few minutes to get beyond the introduction.  Similar, a job seeker maybe out and about trying to convince prospective employers that their skills and experience are worth paying for.  A three minute introduction might be the launching point of a expanded discussion down the road.

A while back, as a business librarian, I began attending networking events at various chambers of commerce.  At a monthly gathering I used to attend, we would stand around in a circle and each person would have an opportunity to give a 1 minute elevator (it was all we had time for).   Over time, I began to observe which speeches sounded the most effective. Clearly, many of the introductions went as follows, Hi, my name is Mary, I run a full-service insurance agency, please call me if you are interested in purchasing insurance”.  Once you heard enough of those, you tended to tune them out.

However, there were others that were creative, they were novel and had lots of pizazz.  The best ones were so memorable probably because they made us all laugh.

So, where I am leading with all this?  I recently picked up a book called, Small Message, Big Impact: the elevator speech effect by Terri L. Sjodin.

The importance of having a well-planned short and concise speech is not all you will learn. It provides great tips and tricks to help you get the foot in the door or pique someone’s interest to want to learn more about you.

Networking Tips for the Job Seeker

In my library workshop, “Search the Hidden Job Market”, I talk about becoming the information sleuth.  Think of yourself as a detective or consider putting your dog to work at sniffing out the jobs. There are all sorts of channels to work  and the more pathes you take, should increase your odds of landing a job.  If nothing else, you’ll be busy.

  1. Of course, go ahead and work through the job boards.
  2. Meet with recruiters and headhunters for you might just be an ideal match.
  3. Tell all your friends and relatives.
  4. Tell the strangers you meet while waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office, at the grocery, at the gym, etc.
  5. Follow the jobs in Linkedin especially the ones listed in your groups.
  6. Read the newspaper and especially the business section.  Be sure to think about what the headlines may mean with regard to potential hiring. Are there new companies moving in?  Is anyone moving to larger quarters these days? Or, have any companies been awarded a large government contract perhaps?
  7. Identify vendors or suppliers who might know where there are job openings at companies with whom they do business.  For example, if you were an accountant, you might contact CPA firms to find out if any of their clients have job openings or perhaps you could contact the sales reps for accounting software.  If you are an HR specialist, you might contact employee benefits companies or HR specific software providers.
  8. Don’t forget trade or professional associations.  Join them and get involved.  It could be money and time well-spent.
  9. Try writing a blog.  An article I read in the The Wall Street Journal a few years ago, featured someone who got noticed and got a job because of the reputation she established with her blog.

Above all, be visible!

Networking for the Sake of Networking

Are you on Linkedin or Facebook?  And, do you have lots and lots of friends or connections?  Some of us may feel the pressure to be well-connected with volumes of people online.  But, does the quantity of contacts really mean anything and what is the point?  So, with our abundance of contacts, where has that taken us, anyway?

Long before the existence of Linkedin and Facebook , we maintained business card and Roladex files.  To me,  just going through the motion of collecting names, phone numbers, and business cards without putting much thought into it,  didn’t work well back then and it really doesn’t work well even in today’s online world.  My simple brain told me years ago that someone had to have a compelling  reason to do you a favor as in returning a favor or expecting something of value in the future.

Gordon Curtis in his book, Well Connected sums it up more eloquently than I have.  Here’s the essence of it.

Curtis says, you have to target the right person and apply the right approach, . Both parties need to reach an outcome that is beneficial to both of them.  A-ha.  So, I wasn’t too far off.  He states several criteria necessary in order for networking between two parties to work.  The keywords he uses  are ” like-minded”, “obligated”, “motivated” and “able”.  Without those, it’s highly unlikely someone will do anyone else a favor or enter into a deal.

Networking to achieve results requires a well-planned strategy.  So, develop your objectives and desired outcomes. When you identify potential networking candidates, learn something about them, figure out how you are going to reach them (necessary introductions) and what you are going to say.  Down the road, even look for ways you might reciprocate in advance.

For a more detailed explanation about how to network more effectively, I highly recommend the book, “Well-Connected.”

Build Relationships for Success in Business

I came upon an article today on the website, .Inc that resonated with me. The article was 10 Great Habits of Charismatic People by Jeff Haden.  Have you ever stopped to think about what it is about charismatic individuals that make them charismatic? Hmmm.   Rather surprisingly, it’s not all about having good looks although being physically attractive certainly  doesn’t hurt.  In fact, you may find that good looking folks are not necessarily charismatic.

According to the referenced article, personality probably trumps good looks in the charisma department.  Rather, charisma is about taking a keen interest in others. They are good listeners. They are not solely focused on themselves and tend to be humble. Above all, they like to make others feel good about themselves.  In my opinion, the last bit is paramount.

How is this relevant to being a small business owner or someone pursuing a career?  We all need to establish and build relationships to be successful. In business, it’s about focusing on the customer and being interested in his or her needs.

Similarly, whether you are looking for a job or you wish to be successful on a job, one needs to focus on building relationships.  In the book, “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You”, the author, Peter Leibman says, “Stop Looking for Jobs and Focus on People”.  This simple statement really clicked with me. I have long believed, in order to be successful on the job, the most important element is getting along with people (although you also have to know your stuff).

So, focus less on yourself and develop a greater interest in others!