Age 50 and over Job Hunters Series: Ageism in the New Corporate World – Part 2 – Mistakes
So where do we start?
In part one of this series, we discussed the apparent trend of companies to reinvent themselves. As the population of Baby Boomers is aging, companies want to assure they will not be left with empty offices by mass retirements. This is a well documented trend since around 2011, and although there are laws in place protecting anyone over the age of 40, it is easily circumvented. The businesses need show only a justifiable reason for making a position “redundant”. Never mind that the forty other co-workers also laid off, were all over the age of 48 and also labeled “redundant”.
I keep going over this because you must understand what is happening in Corporate America right now. If you know the score, you can arm yourself with the right job search tools. Additionally you must understand that searching for a job today is nothing like it was 10 or even 5 years ago. Young people are taught in college how to use the new social tools we barely know anything about. I will be posting several blogs explaining this and what you need to do to keep up. Or if you prefer, you can hop over to the Reading Links page and check out the resources there. Everything I used to create my new resumes and submit them are there. Remember: “Forewarned is Forearmed.”
Don’t write that resume yet!
The first thing you think you “want” to do after a layoff (short of strangling your boss), is build your resume. DON’T DO THAT! Yes, you will need a resume pretty quickly, but you need to do some thinking and some research first. I highly recommend that you take some time off to think if you can. When I was laid off, we were in the middle of having the exterior of our home renovated. There were contractors in and out everyday. Crying or being depressed was not an option. I was stressed but I was busy. To keep my mind off my money problems I cleaned, painted and repaired things on the inside of my house. I took care of things that had been needing attention for years. When I started painting the inside of the bathroom vanity cabinets I knew I was in trouble… I needed to get a grip.
Every morning I got up at the same time I did when I was working. (for me that is 5:30 AM) I did my usual morning routine, and would then start working on the house, or the yard, when my husband left for work. My mental therapy was cleaning, repairing or working in the yard. (What is your therapy? As long as it is not self destructive, do it.)
Arrogant mistakes with my job search.
The week I was laid off, in addition to my cleaning therapy, I felt an urgency to get my resume ready. I immediately started putting them out with very little change from 10 years ago. After all, with extensive working experience who would turn me down? I was very wrong, and I found out this method does not work that way anymore.
Mistake #1: I assumed that the resume that I had written several years ago would suffice for looking for a job. The resume looked professional. It had my experience documented all the way back to 1984. It had my education dating back to 1977. I looked on the internet for jobs using Indeed and Monster. I set up my accounts and started sending out the resumes I uploaded. I got very little response. Over two months, I sent out almost 50 resumes and cover letters. I got 3 very nice no thank you letters back.
Mistake #2: I rewrote my cover letter and made it generic. In it I discussed my skills and my 30+ years of experience. I reworked my resume and cleaned it up again. I tried a new templates I found online. I sent out more resumes and cover letters. I got nothing back.
Mistake #3: I uploaded my resume on Indeed.com and Monster.com that first week. I assumed that was all I needed to do. I did not verify the information Indeed and Monster had, once the file was uploaded. When I finally did check it 2 months later, I was shocked at how little had transferred from the resume. I did not know that you need to fine tune the information. I also did not know, that if you use a resume created with a template, most of the search sites can not read them. NONE of the resumes I sent out to recruiters had my expected content in them.
Mistake #4: I assumed that if I sent my resume in to a company, that they would actually have someone read it. That was a bad assumption. Apparently most resumes sent in for a job listing never make it to the desk of the recruiter. They all, along with mine, go into the proverbial black hole…
Mistake #5: I did not take LinkedIn and its mammoth footprint in the corporate world seriously. It is the world’s largest professional network with 500 million users and 10 million job listings. I had no idea that most recruiters go there first to check their candidates. Nor did I understand that I would be judged almost completely by what was in my profile. LinkedIn is your job search brand. It is what you market yourself with. My early research was primarily how to look for a job.
Mistake #6: I did not understand that “most” of the self help articles available on line and also in books… are geared toward younger people looking for jobs. Mostly college students and Millennials. Older workers are quickly rejected just by a quick scan of their resume by search algorithms.
A LinkedIn in article How job recruiters screen you on LinkedIn, by Quentin Fottrell, said “Older job-seekers need to walk a fine line.” He explained that unless you are famous there is no need to over emphasis a job that is more than 10 years old. He continued with, “Your college graduation date will age you, and although ageism is illegal, it’s happening all the time.”
Things I have learned and will share in upcoming blogs:
1.) Reflect – Before you look for a new job you need to figure out what you want to do. Looking for a job after age 50 can be a good experience.
2.) Research – Once you decide what kind of job you are looking for, do the research. Look at the jobs currently available for that field. Keep copies of some of the best ones so you can have the qualifications at hand. You can use this to build your resume.
3.) Read – Read articles regarding best practices for the job search. Look for discussions of how companies look for candidates and what you need to do to get to an interview. Especially look for tips regarding the job search over the age of 40.
4.) The Resume – The resume has to be geared toward the specific job you are applying for. There are very specific ways to do this.
5.) LinkedIn – Things you must do to fine tune LinkedIn.
I will be adding these new blogs every other day along with any blogs I find that may be helpful or fun to read.