Looking for Work (when you’re over 55)
This is the second installment of the Unexpected Retirement Blog. It picks up where I left off; my beginning efforts to search for work. If you have experiences to share, please post a comment. You can find related blogs below this post.
With my severance package about to run out in about 2 months, I sadly decided it was time to look for work. Retirement would come in due time, but that wasn’t for another 4 years. Starting a job search at 58 years old is a lot like starting a job search when you’re 20. You need to set up the basics. Once you have the basics down, then the job search for older workers greatly differs from a twenty year old.
The Basics – The Resume
I hadn’t looked for work in over 13 years so my resume definitely needed tweaking. However, being that I was 58 years old, I needed to take some precautions so I could avoid age discrimination. After reviewing many job and resume tip sites, I updated my resume accordingly. Most experts agree that when you’re older, there’s no need to list every job you’ve ever had. In fact, the pros recommend that your resume reflect the past 10 years of work experience, and only that. The only older jobs you should list are jobs that are relevant to the position you’re seeking, and you should exercise care even in that case. For me, that meant that my resume would only reflect one job, the job I was just laid off from.
I also read many articles on what makes for a standout resume. My resume was reflective of all the advice I had gathered. Depending on what job you’re looking for, you’ll need to craft several different flavors of the same resume. For example, when going for a sales job, you want to highlight relevant sales experience and accolades. But, if you’re going for a Postal Carrier position (I did actually interview for that job), you’ll need to downplay some aspects of your previous work experience and highlight others. *For more resume writing tips and services, see our resume writing page.
Another basic of the beginning of a job search is to check out your own social media. If you’re on LinkedIn, does your page reflect all your skills and recent work history? If you have a Facebook page, make sure that your “friends” are not leaving unsavory comments on your wall. I had to unfriend several relatives at the onset of my job search. I didn’t think prospective employers would be too thrilled to read about the all-night parties some of my “friends” reveled in.
A great resource for the online job hunt is social media. If you let people know you’re looking, your contacts just might refer you to your next position.
Sign Up On the Job Search Sites
There are literally thousands of these sites. My personal favorites are Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and Career Builder. I found Monster listed jobs all the way on the other side of the country. Once you sign up on 5 to 10 sites, the last thing you need is to be sifting through emails (and, you’ll get tons of them) with jobs that are not in the location you desire.
These are the basics for starting the job search. Now I can let you know how it all worked for me when I set out to find my next job.
The Quest for Work
It all started out promising enough. I had a solid professional background. I was top Inside Sales Rep for 2 of the 3 years I held that job. And, I had worked my way up from a Call Center Representative to a Director. In 2008, as the recession took its toll, I began to work on the completion of my MBA. On paper, I thought I looked great. In addition, I had over 250 LinkedIn contacts, many of whom I believed would champion my work ethic. I also had commitments from former customers that they would provide a referral for me whenever I needed it. Things looked rosy indeed.
I tapped my LinkedIn contacts first. There were some promising leads but nearly not as many as I had anticipated. With 250 firsthand contacts (meaning these were not colleagues of colleagues, but people I actually knew and worked with), I thought I’d be interviewing in no time.
Well, I got one interview. And, the interviewer and I did not hit it off very well, so there went that job. That one interview was the only fruit of my years of networking. And, I know, I should accept ownership of my networking failures. Maybe I’m not that gregarious of a person. I am an introvert after all (which is why I like writing), and I really hate having to prove myself afresh. Why not ask any of my 249 LinkedIn contacts what they think of me? Why ask me how well I did in Sales when it’s right there on my resume? Nine million in sales in 2015 with a six million dollar quota. That’s what my resume says, why do I have to repeat it?
I also tried to get into a firm where many former employees at my old company went to work. I figured I knew so many people there, I would be a shoe-in. But, I was wrong on that count as well.
So, now began the regular old job search. I was an unemployed executive looking for a similar executive position. And here’s where things became way different from the job search we undertake when in our twenties. A seed of an idea formed in my head at this point. Could I become semi-retired?