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.
Monday, 9 April 2012
Avoid looking like an A**.... just ASK!
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 ...