Rising to the Top: Busting Job Search Myths at 64
When my boomer buddy, a global SVP, informed me that he landed a new job in less than 60 days after getting laid off from his company after 20 years, I shouted with joy. With over 3 million baby boomers currently unemployed, we all know how tough it is.
I asked him, “Do you realize that you just shattered your own myth about not being hireable because you are ‘over the hill’, have grey hair and are 64 years old?”
I will not deceive you.
I will not tell you he had a small rolodex.
In fact, from years in the corporate world, he did amass a significant network of contacts and he knew how to capitalize on his relationships cultivated over the years. And….aaah, yes, he most certainly had a presence on LinkedIn.
When we sat down to review his “Go-To” plan for nailing down a job with one of the largest consulting firms in the world, within a 60-day time period, my friend relayed to me a few of his effective strategies.
1. Upon deep reflection, he realized that his skills were well-honed and stronger than ever, even though the job market had changed dramatically. He also realized that he was light years smarter now and had an undeniable amount of energy and a true commitment to excellence. Of course, his positive attitude and high degree of energy were not present immediately. But he came to the realization that he had to get out of this quick sand fast.
So, what did he do?
He took a well-deserved vacation and escaped the noise of the world. My friend took time for himself to clear his head, assess the situation and develop a success strategy.
2. He very carefully crafted the “Reason for Leaving” message. Yes, my friend had worked in start-ups for most of his career. When the company swiftly changed its direction after a number of years, he was caught off guard for sure. We talked about his ‘reason for leaving’ and discussed what he would say and how he would say it. Not an ounce of anger or hostility was part of that equation. He kept his story short and sweet.
Let me give you an example of how you might craft a reason for leaving statement: “Like many IT [plug in your industry here] companies, my firm went through a major restructuring. Due to a recent merger, all IT [_______] functions were consolidated, which affected many positions, including mine. While I had been with the company for more than 20 years, I am looking at this next opportunity to use my strengths and experience in a new setting.”
Rule of Thumb: Don’t use negatively-charged words like ‘unfortunately’ or ‘downsizing.’ Keep it vanilla. Be cool, calm and collected about the bombshell that was just dropped even though you are sweating bullets.
3. R&R: Refresh the resume and reconnect with friends and colleagues. My buddy pulled out his network of contacts and made his call list. Next, he established the purpose of each call. He prepared an opening statement that consisted of three parts (identifying himself, acknowledging the value of his contact’s time and using clear language to state why he was calling). Obtaining information and a commitment to set up a meeting, another chat or date and time for a follow up helped to increase the chance that something might result from this call. Yes, he immediately followed up with an email.
4. Become guerilla-like in managing your job search. My buddy created a daily plan and followed it. He wrote well-thought-out and effective letters and followed up on opportunities. Yes, he did look at Ladders for $100K+ jobs, but decided to target specific companies instead. Leveraging his contact and knowledge base, he reached out to his industry contacts and also attended industry events. On top of that, his reputation for trustworthiness, deep technical expertise and intelligence in his industry was well known.
5. Finally, it’s important to change your approach until you get results. Like motivational speaker and life coach Anthony Robbins, my friend continued to modify his approach until he got what he wanted. First, and foremost, he knew what he wanted in terms of industry targets and companies. He was clear about the role he was best suited for and what experience and skills he could bring to the role.
Furthermore, he knew how to capitalize on business relationships. This was the real key for him and proved that his career contact network, along with a professional resume, was vital in his job campaign.