Job Advice for Old Dudes


So you’re finally accepting that you’re closer to being a fossil than you are a hatchling. Good for you. Embrace your age if it happened to bring along some wisdom for the ride. If age came alone, well…ah…you can always brush up on the wisdom part by reading and listening more often followed by a period of reflection.

Here in Canada, more and more people are realizing that older workers are making up the bulk of the employment picture. People are working longer for one thing in these days and the days to come, even the Government is considering raising the age of receiving a pension from 65 to 67. The other thing too is that numbers wise, there’s just more of us in the older worker category than ever before.

Used to be that people used a pretty wide brush to whitewash anybody over 55 into the category of being put out to pasture. Past their prime, slowing down, easing into retirement, not long for this world, getting out the ol’ rocking chair. If you buy into this, well, get out your suspenders and settle down for dinner at 4:30p.m. then toddle off to bed at 8:30p.m. with your cup of Ovaltine.

ON THE OTHER HAND….

Because of the very fact that older workers are making up a better portion of the employed these days and in the days to come, you’ve got every reason to believe that you’re what the people want! See your age as a strength – and this is paramount – that is desireable. Stop apologizing for your increasing years! What have you got going for you? Try these on for size:

You’re experienced, you’ve got life experience, you’re emotionally stable, you’re past your child rearing years, you’ve got energy because of advances in medicine and fitness that older workers 30 years ago didn’t have. You’ve got the wisdom to continually learn. You’re closer to most companys’ most desired customers – the ones with money to spend. Older customerrs ‘get you’, not some kid who still has teenage acne but has a tag that says “Manager” on his lapel at McDonalds.  You’re way past trying to climb the corporate ladder and so you won’t be leaving the next job for a raise at the competition like that 20 or 30 year old co-worker.  You might have reliable transportation while the Yuppies are still taking the local bus. You DO know what punctual means and put it into practice.

Turning your perceived weakness into a strength only works if you believe it yourself. How can you hope to convince someone else to believe you’ve got what it takes if you don’t believe it yourself? Open up your front door at home and get out your broom… Sweep out lethargy, self doubt, negativity and criticism. They’ve been living with you for too long.  Now put out the welcome mat for Confidence, Self Esteem, Pride, and Self Efficacy and Competence.

Oh, and a little baking soda on those chompers will do wonders!

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Enthusiasm


What single quality is the one wanted by most employers? Well from the title of this post, it’s obvious that I believe it to be enthusiasm. So let’s talk about why.

For one thing, if you are enthusiastic, it follows that you’ll show up on time, you’ll be interested in learning new things, you’ll take pride in your work, you’ll work productively with others and you will be a positive force in the workplace.  Simply put, this one quality MAGNIFIES all the other good things that you might name! Of course it’s one thing to say you are enthuisastic and quite another to exemplify it and demonstrate it.

Act with confidence, walk with a quickened pace, smile and look people in the eye. Groom yourself with care and and take on challenges with optimism and agreement. You’ll find that by being enthusiastic, you will attract other people to you who share these traits. You might also alienate those who are embittered, stale, jealous, playing out the string, and especially those wno play it safe and take no risks. Weigh the pros and cons.

Enthusiasm is something you might consider sharing with your next interviewer as one of your best qualities. Be prepared to demonstate HOW you have implemented enthusiam into your daily work routine, the impact it’s had on your co-workers, customers, clients and Management. Managers like to have employees work for them who exude enthusiasm and who thrive on contributing to making the work setting a place where people are productive.

 

Enthusiasm…try it on for size!

 

Hey, it’s nothing personal


 

You’ve experienced the frustration of a job loss and have decided to move on with an enthusiastic job search. Good for you!

Fast forward a couple of months and you’re still looking. Sure you’ve landed a few interviews over that time, and you’ve had conversations with hiring managers, HR personnel, even past employers. What might be eating away at you is a feeling that you’re being targeted in a negative way. You see yourself as qualified – perhaps even over qualified for some jobs yet, still you’re not getting an offer of employment.

Because it’s YOU that’s being rejected, it’s natural to take things personally. Saying things like, “What’s the matter with me?”, Why won’t they hire me?” are the kinds of statements that are personal first person statements that are more damaging than you might realize. These kind of statements are useful if they are used for self assessment and critique, but they can be dangerous if dwelled on to the point where we start imagining we’ve been blackballed by an industry or field. Hiring Managers have way too much to do these days and haven’t got the time to send out broadcast emails and make phone calls to each other, advising everyone else to pass you by. Hey, are you that important to them? Really?

Lots of people are unemployed and from time to time, we experience job cutbacks, recessions and periods of change. Many people who are employed today have recently been out of work, or will be soon. No, don’t gloat. Would you wish your experience on anybody out there?

Try and keep an objective, realistic view of your unemployment. It isn’t personal. There are so many qualified people applying for jobs these days, no matter who an employer selects from a group of applicants, you can bet there’s some among the final cuts who would have been quite capable in the position they were unsuccessful at. Keep trying. Keep applying, keep positive, and keep your focus on getting a job. The strain of unemployment doesn’t need more fuel from bitterness, blame, anger and frustration.

If you are just recently unemployed, take some small solace out of the fact that the reality of today is that because so many people are at some point between jobs, there is more general acceptance and understanding for those who find themselves out of work. The stigma of being unemployed is not as strong as it used to be. How you react to your unemployment is what people will remember and talk about, and be affected by.

Even if in your private moments you get depressed and down on yourself, try and minimize the length of time you spend in this private torment. While honesty is good, and when asked it’s okay to share your feelings with others, don’t let your sharing turn into a blast of negativity and cause your audience to shun you in the future. You’re going to need friends.

Unemployment isn’t personal. Business’s are out to improve their bottom line. Sometimes that means changing strategies, re-assessing their organizational structures and needs. This change while designed to re-position the company to be more profitable, has it’s share of unintended casualties. Your company probably didn’t restructure their organization as some plot to justify terminating your services.

Stay true to the person you are. Learn from your experience. Open yourself to new directions. Take stock of your experience, skills, assets and liabilities. Re-evaluate your priorities. Take care of yourself phyiscally and mentally.

You have a lot to offer an employer!

The Job Loss Cycle


The Job Loss Cycle is the process you might be going through right now. If you are experiencing job loss,  this could help give you hope for the future. Look at the diagram here.

So you’ll notice first the image starts when everything is ‘normal’. You have you job, on the top left, you go to work, get a paycheque and all is good. Then out of nowhere, SLAM! You find yourself out of work. Your world as you’ve known it is changed in an instant. You`ve been laid off, fired, released, made redundant – it`s all the same. You say things like, “I can`t believe this is happening. What just happened?, I sorry, what did you say?” These statements are characteristics of the Shock stage when everything is raw and you’ve just been given a blow.

The next phase you might find yourself in is Anger. You want to lash out because you’re on edge. Feelings of shame, anxiety, brought on by the stress you are feeling need an outlet. There could be some blame in this period, usuallly directed at the employer, supervisors etc. Your embarrassed and don’t want to talk to anyone about things, some hope that family, friends and those we are close to won’t find out. You might be judged as if you are somehow to blame for your situation.

Depression and Detachment soon follows. You’re isolated, feeling like somehow eveyone else has things to do, places to go, money to earn and your standing on the sidelines without a purpose. How you defined yourself, and how others defined you – gone. Who am I now? There may be a loss of energy brought on with the loss of routine. Not knowing what to do. The weight of the job loss now hits and you feel overwhelmed. Escape might come through drugs, alcohol (which is a drug) but really, these just add to your depression.

The period of bargaining may follow, where you might find yourself praying, “Dear God, it’s me. If you could just make this all go back the way it was, I’ll be a better employee.” Maybe you go so far as to contact the employer and beg for your job back – even at reduced wages and benefits, but the job is gone. You’ve been replaced. On the upside, you’re talking to people now, unburdening your woes and troubles. Sharing your feelings is necessary to move on  instead of bottling things up and telling yourself you’re a strong person who can deal with it alone. You might notice that when you talk about things, you actually feel somewhat relieved to get things off your chest. Hmmm….feels better – just a little.

Acceptance. You’ve come to terms with the job loss. The job is toast, and the sun still came up this morning. The dark period you were in is lifting, and you have some energy to think about days to come, not days that have past. You realize now that you have a luxury other working people don’t have…time. Time to think and explore other career options. “What would I like to do? What do my skills, experience and interests suggest would be a job I’d enjoy at this point in my life?”

Moving on in your life is accomplished when y, ou put into action the plans you’ve been making and you again have security of income, employment to define yourself by your new job. In this stage you may look back and see that although painful at the time, the job loss actually was a good thing overall, as without it, you would have not taken the steps to move in the new direction you did.

The |Job Loss Cycle has no timeframe. For some, the whole process can last a few days. With others it’s months, and sadly – very sadly – some people have NEVER got beyound the  Denial and Anger. The chips on their shoulders grows from one day to the next, and the damage they have experienced never really gets healed. The thing to know too is that you may actually move from one stage to another and then revert back to an earlier stage, for example, when you bump into your old boss in the grocery store. You may later say, “I thought I was past that but I just got so mad when I saw him I could have screamed!”. Normal behaviour. Don’t beat yourself up.

Now that you know about the job loss cycle, find out where you are now in your life. Can you move on to the next stage? The job loss cycle fits other situations too. If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you could rename this the Grieving Cycle. Either way, for most of us, things get better.

Have some hope. When it feels like everyone has given up on you, dig deeper and find yourself. Hope is the last thing ever lost. Better days are coming.

 

 

Targeting that Resume


Ever found what appears to be a job you are entirely qualified for and after you apply for it, you are shocked to find that you don’t even get invited to an interview? When this happens, too many job seekers put this down to the large number of applicants that they assume have applied to the same job.

While the above may be true, it may also be that on paper, your resume doesn’t convince a total stranger that you have the qualifications they are looking for. Knowing what the company is looking for is actually easier than it used to be and that’s a good thing. Look at a job posting. Seriously; go get one – I’ll wait for you to come back.

Oh, you’re back! Good! Now on that posting, notice the things the employer has indicated they are looking for. Look at things like education, licences, experience, skills, values, the pace of work, whether you’ll be working in a team or alone, leadership, computer skills, physical demands, hours of work, etc. It’s all there. The employer has put all this information on the posting for a reason – this is the ideal applicant. If you want to get an interview, your resume has to include on it the very things the employer is looking for. Yet I am surprised at the number of people who gaze off into the distance when making their resume, hoping that some divine inspiration will come to them as they wonder what to put on paper. It’s right in front of you!

Every single resume you put out there should be tailor-made or TARGETED to one specific job. For example, let’s say you wanted to be a Server. Does a Server at an upscale fine dining establishment have the same job requirements as a Server in a greasy spoon? To most of us, the answer is an obvious no. So, when you craft your resume, don’t assume that employers will know what your responsibilities were in some past job. Take the time to list the skills you used, the things you accomplished, and the responsibilities you had BUT USE THE LANGUAGE THE EMPLOYER HAS IN THE POSTING FOR THE JOB YOU WANT. Keep your eyes on the prize.

You’re in a tight job market with lots of competition. Your resume has to match up as much as possible to the ideal applicant the employer is seeking. You can no longer put a general resume together for a Server, make 40 copies and distribute them everywhere you go. Sure you’ll cover a lot of ground, but your resume will never be the closest one to what the employer is looking for – it just can’t. This kind of strategy works only in job markets where there are lots of jobs and few job seekers – maybe the 80’s.

Get a professional to look over your resume, and failing this, at least have someone from the field you are trying to get into look it over – someone you don’t know who will be objective. Oh and remember that when you do get feedback, LISTEN to the feedback and don’t defend yourself or the person providing you with the valuable feedback will start telling you what you want to hear – not what you NEED to hear!

The Man in the Mirror


Funny thing about mirrors…if we feel good about ourselves; the way we look, the thickness and style of our hair, our complexions, our weight, our shape etc., we don’t mind mirrors at all. We adjust our collars, check our makeup or the trim of our beards etc.

However, if we don’t have a good self-image and don’t think we’ll like what we see, we tend to avoid mirrors, only using them when absolutely necessary. The voices in our head say things to us as we look at ourselves and whisper how we’ve let ourselves go, and what we once were, or might have been.

When looking for employment, we have to stand in front of the mirror and objectively measure not only what we see on the exterior, but also what lies within. Let’s take inventory in this post about only the exterior – what others first see.

In the privacy of your own home, get dressed in your interview or work clothes. Take a deep breath and walk in front of the full length mirror. What strikes you first about the image you see? Do you see someone who makes an assertive first impression?  Here’s some things to examine:

* Posture. Are you standing up straight, shoulders square and both feet planted firmly with equal weight on each? Try moving your hands to your hips, slightly sucking in your stomach and strike a Supeman pose. Do you notice more confidence in the image you see? Even if you know you’re faking it at this point, do you sense a shift for the better?

* Grooming. If you normally don’t have facial hair, but notice you’ve got a day or two (or three) of stubble – shave it! A scruffy look can make you look haggard, older, and this is especially true if your facial hair is anything but jet black or dark brown.

* Size. Okay it’s just you standing there…be honest. Could you use to put on a few pounds because you’re not eating properly due to stress? Or the opposite, have you gained unusual weight because of your stress and inactivity? Making some changes now to your diet for the better and getting some moderate excercise will help reduce stress, move you to your ideal weight and help you prepare for the day you land that interview.

* Clothing. Are your clothes fitting properly? Are the clothes cleaned, ironed, shirts and blouses pressed? Are there mud or salt stains on the cuffs of your pants that you hadn’t noticed. Best to take care of these things now rather than the morning of the interview and you’ll feel more vulnerable.

Sometimes the thing that bothers us most about unemployment is the loss of control we feel coupled with the loss of purpose and direction. When we have a job, we wake up knowing where we will go, what we will do and what is expected of us. When job searching though we wake up wondering IF we will get a call, MAYBE I’ll get a response today, and try to stay within easy access to phones, our emails etc., any of which could change how we spend our day. Taking control of our exterior appearance, is one way to get control over ourselves. Get your interview outfit(s) cleaned and ready to go.

Smile at the Man in the Mirror. Learn to master the reflection staring out at you and when you do, take that confidence into your job search routine and share that image with everyone you meet. Confidence is contagious and people will like to be around you, help you, talk with you and …. yes…. work with you!

 

 

 

Help! I Need Somebody!


Ok. So I’m a Beatle fan. Great band; in my opinion and others, the best ever. This article though, isn’t about them and a discussion of who is the best band of all time.

Today it’s about asking for help in conducting a job search. Asking for help in your job search is not a sign of weakness as some people think, but rather a strength. In fact, asking for help during a period when you are unemployed sets you apart from those who forge on in secret – and in a good way!

WHEN you ask for help from is the key. Most job searchers know that whenever we put ourselves out there and ask for help, we run the risk of exposing ourselves when we are vulnerable. This is why for example so many people out of work initially don’t tell as many people as they might, in the hope that they will land employment shortly and not have to endure the embarrassment of sharing their unemployment status.  Ironically, this is the exact time to reach out, so you have the maximum number of people helping you right from the start, instead of weeks or months into your unemployment.

WHO to tell and who to ask help from are two very different things! Certainly you should share your job searching status with absolutely everyone you know – especially your immediately family. Your employment or rather, unemployment status affects them too, and sharing is a great way to reduce the stress. People you are closest to will sense a change in your mood, your schedule etc. and they’ll worry about what has happened. Children especially pick up on changes and will imagine things far worse than the truth. So clue people in. Sharing can cut you some breathing room and if you ask for some understanding with a promise to job search your best, this reassurance can help both you and the family realize it’s not the end of the world, and your unemployment status will change for the better sooner.

However, get some professional help with respect to your resumes, cover letters, and advice. There is a huge problem asking your sister to look over your resume unless of course she does that for a living. She may be an awesome mechanic, but you don’t need a mechanic. Similarly, when you need brakes repaired, you wouldn’t go to an Employment Counsellor would you?

The job market is very tight; competent people are out there competing with you for that job you want. Get as many people behind you. Build your support team and get some objective advice on your job search tools.

That’s it for today!