May I say I like reading your blog, even though you have been a little harsh on me previously!
Like millions of people in the UK, I will very likely find myself out of work in the near future, and I really don't know where to start trying to find a new job.
The problem is that I am 57 years old, and have stayed in the same profession most of my professional life. I can't afford to retire and I still feel that I have something to offer in the job market. It seems that there seems to be a real issue with employers hiring 'older' employees, because of the amount of younger and very experienced people on the job market.
I have already spoken to several recruitment agencies, but to be honest they were a waste of time, and looked at me as if I was stupid to even speak to them!
What can I do to try and find a job when I soon become unemployed at 57 years old?
Obviously Gordon's 'request' is similar to many thousands of people, who have both already lost their job and, like Gordon, will soon be unemployed. So in my response I have listed six tips to consider when someone is in this position.
The first thing to realise is that there are many 'experienced'professional people in exactly the same position as you. So you need to be able to differentiate yourself in the market, when looking for a new job.
What you have to be prepared for is some hard work, commitment and maybe taking yourself outside your comfort zone, if you want to attain a new opportunity.
1. Be strategic. Don't send out CV's at random or just answer every job advert in the The Guardian, even if you believe yourself to be qualified to do every one of them. You will be wasting your time, if you don't even know what you are looking for. You first need to clear about what you have to offer an employer, then start by identifying employers that you believe could value your particular background and skills.
2. Your CV. This is a very difficult and potentially damaging area for an 'experienced' executive. The reason being that any recruiter will know, lots of experience = older people. So if you think being 57 is going to be an issue for you, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate this.
You can start by trimming the length of your CV, making sure it only highlights the last 10-15 years of your experience, rather than the 35 years of experience you actually have. Employers don't need that much information, and they will (unfortunately) in practice look at other choices. Look at the way you present yourself, your achievements, your successes and maybe take a different slant. Maybe reposition yourself as a mentor, demonstrating how you have developed people within your organisation - companies may see your talents as an opportunity to create a transition position to help develop less-experienced people. This is a classic use of interim executives.
3. Networking. The most likely route for you returning to work is that of networking. People you know or have previously worked with, will know all about your skills and capabilities. Who else is better suited to help recommend you to a company, if they are looking to employ someone with a similar skill set to yourself. So start by getting out your contacts book, stack of business cards, Outlook contacts and (if you are online) your LinkedIn contacts ( Download LinkedIn for beginners ) and start to make contact with ALL of them. Tell them about your situation, make them aware of the jobs you are looking to secure (be precise), and ask if there is ANYONE that they could recommend you to, that might be looking for your skills.
This can take some time, but be persistent and manage it like a project, using a spreadsheet or (if you are online ) a tool like Jibba Jabba. This will help you track your emails and conversations for you to follow up at a later date.
4. Don't think job, think more assignment or project. One area where there is a big demand at the moment is the interim sector. Skilled and knowledgeable executives are more commonly now being used to provide skills and knowledge transfer. They are also asked to temporarily fill senior positions in organisations that , for various reasons, have parted company with existing management individuals. These may only last for several months, but they are a valuable source of experience. Find out the recruiters in your industry that place interim executives, and speak to them. Let them tell you if that is a viable option for you going forward. Just don't give up at the first recruiter, if you get negativity - be persistent.
5. Be realistic on the money front. You will very likely, have to look at what you think you are worth to an employer. With many companies actually still reducing their headcount, finding budget for new employees - interim or permanent - is still tough. So although salaries on offer, might be lower that your existing package (likely), don't discount it straight away. Speak to your network, find out from ex-colleagues what other companies are paying people entering at your level.
6. Don't be bitter. At interviews, bitterness towards previous employers (if you have been made redundant) or people (if you have been overlooked for a previous promotion), is looked on poorly by the interview EVERY time. You have to take the attitude of looking forward and presenting a positive outlook, to make the correct impression with your interviewer.
I hope, Gordon, that this is of help to you. But, my personal recommendation would be for you to give your friend Tony Blair a call, and see if you can get some work speaking with him on his global gravy train speakers tour!!!