Job Search: My Point of View

Some of you know that I have decided that retiring at this time of my life, is not for me. Still have plenty of time left on for a solid second career. I have read plenty about the state of the economy and the job market out there. For me, I have been isolated from that because I worked at my last place of employment for 28+ years. My journey to starting that second career has been an eye opening experience.

How so:

  • 40 is the old 50: Back in the day, people in their 50’s used to find employment difficult. My research has indicated that the threshold has moved to 40’s. So, for me just tipped into his 50’s, I get to face a bigger challenge.
  • Don’t think that your old paycheck is going to be your new paycheck:  For anyone that thinks that they are going to see more (or even about the same), you better check your expectations at the door. I met a few folks in my networking that complained that they were offered positions that were $20K less than they made doing exactly the same thing they were doing at their last place of employment. I never thought that I would be making the same amount of money I was, that would be expecting too much. I do expect to get a fair wage for the work that I am going to be asked to do. Nothing more! I have done the research on-line  and feel comfortable with the salary expectations that I will likely see.
  • Experience is key: I have had a diverse background within those 28 years, but even that sometimes excludes me from working in a different industry than before. Since I was in corporate America, I am less likely to get a social sector job. Since I was in manufacturing of semi-conductors, I am less likely to get a manufacturing job in pharmaceuticals. Since I was have management experience in information technology, I am less likely to get a management position in call centers, warehouse operations or logistics. I know this from the simple email back on my resume, “you don’t have experience in XXX.” I did not have experience in those areas before I started either.. I can learn, I can take the experiences that I do have and apply and adapt. I am a bright and capable person.
  • There is a black hole in cyberspace: No matter how many times you apply there will be times that you just will not  get an answer. I am not sure that the job application and submittal system the companies are using work as they should. Since most have some sort of automated system, you would think you would get a message that informs you of status. Have your application, reviewing your application and rejecting application. I have seen the received message from many of the applications I have submitted. After that, well, what for it; nothing.

So, what to do:

  • Get out and make contact with hiring companies: Linkedin does a pretty good job of contacting your network to job openings. They even have recommendations for who in your network that can potential help with the hiring manager. I have done a little digging and have been able to actually reach out and touch folks. The are so many social tools that can help you. Some would say this seems like stalking, not if you do it right. Reaching out in a professional manner about potential openings or even openings that you have seen could help you get passed the black hole.
  • Don’t act your age: Stereotypes are out there for a reason, well most of the time. If you are older, than don’t act older. Have the energy and drive that the hiring folks are looking for. Get formal with the new social tools and network. Don’t think that they will come to you. You have to want it! I have heard from some of my friends my age that it is tough out there, those younger job applicants are stealing all the jobs. Well, if you want to beat them, than you better act like them (and you have one better – you have the experience to back it up).

I have been fortunate enough to get passed the black hole a few times. I have been called for interviews! Nothing sounds better than hearing a voice on the other end, ask you if you would like to come in an interview for the position you have applied for. You pretty much walk on the clouds after that call. Reality starts to set in.. Time to get prepared. Clothes all dry cleaned? Haircut? Research the position? Company? Get your questions in order? Get prepared! The last couple of times, I have made it to the short-list of candidates (more interviews). Then you sit and wait for a decision to be made and hopefully in your favor. I still have not gotten that message that says – “Congrats – we would like to hire you.” I will keep on trying.

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  • Colleen Aylward

    Thanks for sharing this, Steve.  It is the story of many many people these days… Nice to see someone get it on paper.    In my 20 years as an executive search consultant, I have never seen this many greatly talented people unemployed… most through no fault of their own (other than NOT having a crystal ball 5 years ago.)

    There is a great article in the WSJ today called “The Accidental Entrepreneur…From Strangers to Business Partners.”   I highly recommend this kind of activity among senior, experienced business people — at least for the next 3-4 years!

    You might want to get my book “from Bedlam to Boardroom…How to get a derailed executive career back on track!” on Amazon.    It is packed with practical and immediate things you can do to get more visible!

    Good luck to you and congrats for hanging in there instead of giving up and moaning about age discrimination or the injustices of the economy.   It is what it is.  (I actually dislike that saying, but it seems so appropriate for once.)

  • Colleen – thanks for the comment.  I definitely will take you up on the recommended reading!

    These are interesting times for everyone. When I am out networking with folks, I get to hear others having similar experiences. One area that really concerns me, is the total lack of feedback. When you send 3 to 4 hours of your time (and theirs) you would think that some feedback would be appropriate. Some have told me, that feedback can only get those folks in trouble. So, they take the high road of not providing any. Like anyone, when we are told that they have decided to go a different way (or that tactless system generated email), you are left to wonder why not me? You start to play everything over in your head to see if maybe your actions or answers to the questions were part of the reason, why not you? I like to learn! Learning is a life long exercise. How can you learn from no feedback? I can never just say, “well, their lose” and move on – just not in my DNA.   

    Thanks again for adding to the discussion…

  • Steve – As I mentioned to you earlier, Colleen and I have had some very interesting conversations on this and on the hiring process today.  From what I can see, WE (we, as in former management), are partially to blame.  Corporate management is also partially to blame.  When WE or corporate look at filling a need, we turn to our HR Dept. or companies like Colleen’s to find us the candidate we want to hire.  The have to understand exactly what we are looking for, then go through all the resumes and/or profiles looking for the best candidate(s) for us to interview.  What has happened and why I say WE are partially to blame is, we limit the amount of time they have to find the best candidate(s) and we “reward” if they find us the new employee in the time frame allotted.  Corporate gets part of the blame for not wanting to spend the money, to permit time for follow through.  

    It was an eye opener to hear what personnel companies have to do, in the amount of time they have to do it in.  I can’t say I totally agree with the route they have to take, but WE and corporate have directed it to that route.  After the holidays, we’ll have to talk about what I’ve learned . . . 

  • @Steve – There is definitely a whole bunch of blame to pass around. For me, I believe it all comes from two very upfront changes. First one, is the politically correctness that our world is living. We all are afraid of saying or doing something that could potentially be viewed as offending someone. Which could land you on the second reason, getting sued by someone. Our society is not about working for our fair share, we are seeing people go after someone else’s fair share by suing for their piece. There is not anyone or any big corporation that is going to stick their necks out with the threat of a lawsuit.