Strategic Career Advice for anyone seeking satisfying and rewarding work.
These blog articles are longer than many and that's because I've found clients I work with are unusually hungry for the step-by-step answers and approaches that will help them reach their career goals or help them deal with issues in their workplaces more effectively. So this is the place to find FULLY fleshed out answers and strategies to achieve win-win results.
Was inspired by aCharles Adler
radio show discussion earlier this week about older workers and the difficulty
many are having finding good jobs. I wrote this in response:
As a self-proclaimed Career Matchmaker, my favourite
work revolves around helping people reinvent themselves and, ideally, find
really enjoyable and rewarding work (whatever that means for them!
Everyone is different). As luck would have it, I developed a very
strong speciality working with transitioning workers when I became the first
civilian Career Transition Counsellor at CFB Esquimalt, where I worked for 8+
years with retiring (40-50 something) military members. Many of those
folks created their own beliefs around why it would be hard for them to find
jobs when they left the military, but most of those beliefs could often be
banished with the right information and an open mind.
As a result, I have many stories of clients who thought they
were experiencing age discrimination. And, often, with some perspective
shifting and by pro-actively seeking feedback after (or before) their
interviews, this misconception could also be turned on its ear.
·One of my newly IT-certified career changers
tried and tried to get a job but to no avail and he was feeling pretty
hopeless. He was certain it was because of his age (and he was all of
45!). Not that he’d ever actually asked anyone but, still, he was
convinced. I encouraged him to check out this assumption during his
next interview (with a little coaching as to how to ask a possibly delicate
question). As it turned out, there was another unchecked assumption
happening in the busy HR manager’s mind. And, indirectly, it did have
something to do with age. Or more correctly, my client’s numerous years
of experience. The interviewer assumed he would be bored because their
job was an entry level position. Once he knew this, he was able to
address the unspoken question and quickly got a job which was exactly what he’d
been looking for.
·Another client had applied to Canadian Tire for
a bookkeeping job that he felt he could easily fulfill. After he
received no reply to his application, he did go and ask why he hadn’t been
shortlisted, as he was certain he had the skillsets required. He was told
that they didn’t bother calling him because they took it from his resume that
they wouldn’t be able to pay him what he was used to. Again... assumption
Communication and clarification of expectations is a
critical piece that is often left on the curb by both the job seeker and the interviewer.
Therefore, I teach my clients how to ask these types of questions and I
attempt, whenever possible, to anticipate objections before the
interview. Cover letters can also go a long way to heading assumptions
off at the pass.
A resume overhaul is often a worthwhile endeavour, as
well... because job seekers can get kicked off the top candidate pile
merely because they haven’t downshifted their resume to match the career
requirements of a lower-levelled job. Many feel they have to include EVERY
job they’ve ever had. And they show levels of expertise far and above
what is being asked for. This doesn’t always work in their favour, and
leads to many disappointments.
Just to add another perspective, many older workers lack
certain modern workforce skills and, sadly, some tend to resist updating those
skills. Often, the company they were employed by for many years neglected
to offer them upgrading, too, which is unfortunate. I encourage all my
clients to invest in themselves and keep their skills ‘pumped up’ so they can
compete with the more techno-savvy younger generation. You don’t have to
Tweet every hour of the day, but you should be conversant enough with the
concept of social media to ‘sound’ like you understand it. There are
oodles of free online tutorials on the web that you can teach yourself
everything you need to show you’re ‘in the know!’
Attitude is everything! And keeping abreast of the
times (ie. in technology and a few other basic modern workplace skills) is also
really critical for older workers to be seen as viable candidates for more
In closing, here are a few of my favourite news stories on
people working happily and well into their ...
For Career Seekers,
Changers & ReInventioneers … but these
tips work for any job researcher!
5 Ways to Catapult Your Job Choice Research to the Next Level!
obvious but not always overly effective method – National Occupational
Classifications (NOC)… it’s a starting place but it’s not the be all and end all
of career and job research.For every
one of the 40, 000 jobs listed in the NOC (and goodness knows how many in the
US version:Occupational Outlook Handbook), I’m
convinced there are another 40+% more jobs that are not listed or for which the
titles can convey a dozen different job descriptions.And I think I’m underestimating there, it’s
just we’ve never really had anyone do the stats on it so it’s anyone’s guess.
a.Alberta’s Learning Information Service (ALIS) is a great resource for occupational
research and many other fantastic career reinvention information.Sure, it has some specific Alberta only
related info, but tons of it is universal to any career development
question.Check it out!
job search sites to find out about jobs!Read job descriptions in your area of
interest, current industry and all around the edges of anything else you’d like
to align your talents to. Monster,
Workopolis, Indeed/Wowjobs or any other targeted sites you like.And, what better place to go look for the
requirements of any number of jobs than the job posting, itself.
a.Don’t forget that companies you’re interested in may NOT post on job search sites;many of the biggies don’t feel they need to
or they may have a longer job posting on their own site, so always check those
out, as well.And create a bookmarked/favorites list to monitor
them and track their jobs, even if the job doesn’t seem to be a fit for you…
you can gain valuable insights from watching similar, not just exact job
3)Ask!For every job you see advertised, when they
have a contact listed, follow up and ask them for a more detailed job
description.Any client that I’ve ever
encouraged to do that has met with an easy way to really tailor their resume to
match the job.
Resume Writing books!Yes, Virginia…
that’s what I said.You’d be shocked
(well, I am!) at how many people never think to go read a How to Write Resumes kind of book.There are usually dozens in most public libraries.Amazon and all the other usual suspects have
oodles to choose from.And they can be
delivered right to your door!Re-sellers
likeAbebooks and the amazing Powell’s in Portland, Oregon (one of my
favourite spots to pick up my own career related resource books) have them in
great shape at greatly reduced prices!
all resume books are created equal: IE. have excellent well-developed, “give you a hope in h-e-double toothpicks
of getting an interview” samples.And
career change resumes are really hard to find viable samples of because the
chance of you finding one that is similar to what you want to do is around slim
and none.That’s why I recommend hitting
the library.You can photocopy the ones
you want and take them home.
b.Remember, most Career Changers have more to prove than someone who is
already in the chosen profession!I
haven’t written a career change resume yet that wasn’t more densely packed with
details and specifics and accomplishments than one I wrote for someone already
on that career path.
Horse’s Mouth … a tried and true approach for finding jobs, but it’s
also amazingly helpful for figuring out what kinds of jobs might be out there
for you and how to make the switch. Since many folks decide on a career change
while they’re still ‘in’ a job, that old “networking” thang is still one of the
best methods of doing research. As much as we all know we should network regularly,
few of us do.So, to find out about
actual jobs, this is a necessary evil.But do the other homework above first, so that you aren’t wasting time.And then, once you’ve shortlisted your career
path research down to 3-4, plug into your network to get an information interview
so you can find dig down deeper.
course, there’s more involved in this process (It’s such a hub and spoke kind
of thing, career development and change.You do a few things over here in research, then you play with your resume,
then you do some informational interviews, then back to research again, and so
and an so forth.It’s like lifting
weights.You do some reps on one
machine, then switch to another and another and then start the circuit all over
again, but maybe in a different order.)
great resource for finding out about jobs and their specific requirements is good
ol’ LinkedIn (LI).Stay tuned in later posts for more effective ways
to do Passive Networking (yes, it
means you don’t have to cold call!) with people you find in cool jobs on LI.
If anyone you know needs help with any of the aspects of ReInventing themselves, please check out my website! I look forward to helping you find a more rewarding life at WORK!