Age 50 and over Job Hunters Series: Finding that Job – Where to start?
Where to start?
Where to start was my question when I was laid off after 26 years working for the same company. My mind was blank. My feet were knocked out from under me. I felt part of myself die. My self image, the person I thought I was… just gone. I had no idea where to start. Luckily, I had a support group. My family, my husband, my son. I would say the first place to start is with your support group.
Everybody reacts to grief differently. When my dog died a few years ago I was grief stricken. I felt like I needed to fill that hole in my life right away. It was an obsession. I spent days on Craigslist, and animal rescue sites looking at dogs that needed a new home. But none of them was my little girl Cordi. Then one day I ran across a picture of a six month old white boxer girl and fell in love. I drove all the way up to North Carolina, (I live in Atlanta, GA) to get her. My husband thought I was nuts. He even mused that if something bad happened to him, I would be on Craigslist the next day looking for a new husband!
Grieving your loss is good, but then you have to get past it.
The point here, is that grief is a strange thing. You definitely grieve the loss of a job if you have been at it for 26 years. (Some marriages don’t even last that long!) You need to give yourself a chance to grieve. With any luck your company will have given you a severance so that you have time to re-balance your life. What this blog is here to tell you, is that you are not alone. There are thousands of us out there. All trying to find a job in the new workplace environment and many failing.
I was lucky in that my job dealt with computers daily. I am married to a computer programmer, my son builds and repairs computers for a living. I am surrounded by them. Getting out on the internet to research is like breathing for me. But what about other people in my age group that have been laid off. Do they “know” best search practices?
Would it occur to them that they need to write a resume based on search algorithms? Do they know what an algorithm is? Much less how to beat one? How would they find out what I have found out? Do they even realize this is a trend, and the cards are stacked against them? The trend has been building since before the great housing and market failure of 2008. What is worse? Many laid off after 50 just give up even trying to find a job. The economic numbers look good for the economy right now, but the fact is they don’t count those of us that have been looking for work past 4 weeks!
Don’t write your resume yet! You have to re-learn how to find a job…
Seriously. You really do have to learn how to find a job in this new working world before you write a brand new resume. Your old one from 20 years ago? Toss it. The world is completely different than it was and it is not going back to the old ways. If we want to succeed in finding that job then we have to change too. They say that change is hard, but if you are over 50 it is harder. Even 40 to 45 have difficulty. Losing your job, however, has a way of opening your eyes. There is a whole world out there and you are free to look at it. You just have to decide what you want to do.
Eight weeks lost.
If I could get back the eight weeks I spent looking for a job when I was laid off I would do it. I did not research jobs. I assumed my old resume was good enough. I would have done everything different. I wasted so much time and energy throwing resumes into the great web black hole. My new start is working. I am at least getting calls and interviews now.
If I could do it over again, I’d…
The answer to what I would do if I could start if over again is this:
- Don’t write your resume until you do the research. (I will blog on this next.)
- Reflect on where you are and where you’ve been. What is it you really want to do? This is your chance to make a change if you want to. Sit down some place quiet with a cup of coffee or tea and just think.
- Clean up some part of your life. For this DIY person, that was cleaning out cabinets, fixing the basement steps, installing new lighting, cleaning up my yard, painting my cabinets, painting the walls, cleaning out my husbands man cave. (he still has not forgiven me…) I strongly recommend doing something that gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- Do not stay in the bed. Get up every day like you would if you were going into the office. Be disciplined. Do some work on your new job for several hours a day. Get out he proverbial pen and paper, and make lists. Be harsh with yourself regarding what kind of job you can live with or want to do. Did you like your job? Had you come to hate it, but could not bring yourself to look for another job? If you could do something else what would you do?
- Let the internet become your friend. There is some great information out there and some really bad. Check the source, is it reliable? Don’t just believe it because you see it written down. ( Most people know that, but just saying…)
- Research and purchase some self help books. I found the book, Reinvention Roadmap, by Liz Ryan very helpful. (I am not currently an affiliate. So I make no money on this recommendation. Purchase wherever it is easiest for you.)
- Look at job availability, close to home. I spent hours on my laptop, listening to cable news, while looking at “all” jobs. Not just the ones in my field, and reading the descriptions. What do they require? Could I qualify? Would I need new certification? When you find an area you really want to focus on, THEN it is time to start the process of writing your new resume. Not before.
- Consider taking some online classes to brush up on skills you have. Learn some new skills you have an interest in. Dusting off the cobwebs in your brain will prepare you for learning a new job. I did online classes for Excel, Word, Photoshop and WordPress at Lynda.com and LOVED them! There is so much to learn and you are going to have some time on your hands while you wait for some calls to come in. Don’t get out of the habit of working. Remember you are not retired yet!
Hopefully if you are reading this blog you have a computer. Learn how to search on it. If you don’t know how then google it. You can google anything and find it. Read the links in my blogs. Most of them lead to other excellent articles.