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Being “Seasoned” Doesn’t Make Us “Sophisticated”

Posted by | March 31, 2015 | Career, Job Search

Via LinkedIn : The seasoned workforce is frustrated. Millions of professionals with years of experience are saying things like:

“Why is it so hard for me to get a job? It was never this challenging before.”

And,

“I’m tired of being told I’m overqualified. I can do the job, so what’s the problem?”

The most common explanation I hear from these professionals is they’re experiencing age discrimination. There’s plenty of evidence to support this type of discrimination exists. But, I’d like to offer an additional challenge that I think is the real root cause of the problem…it’s called ‘experience discrimination’ – and here’s how it works:

Age = Experience, But It Doesn’t Make You Current

As we get older and gain more experience, we want to believe added experience makes us more marketable. But, that’s no longer the case. We live in a world where every job is temporary. We’re no longer employees who spend decades working “for” employers. Now, we are seen as businesses-of-one who must learn how to work “with” employers if we want to stay in business. It’s the basic law of supply-and-demand. If those years of experience weren’t focused on keeping our skills current and making sure what we do is in-demand in the employment marketplace, then finding work can be more challenging. Why? When employers don’t see us as current, all that extra experience means nothing to them – except that we’ll probably want more money and still not provide the value they seek. Nobody likes to overpay for services – especially, employers.

Solution? Become a Sophisticated Job Seeker

The answer is to redefine yourself to meet the needs of employers. Job search has changed dramatically in the last decade. Not just in technology (i.e. applying online, building LinkedIn profile, etc.), but also in how you present yourself. A recent article by a recruiter addresses how employers view talent today on a scale that impacts how desirable the candidate is perceived to be. [For more on this, read the article I wrote on LinkedIn to assess where you fall on the Global Talent Spectrum.] Today, there’s a bit of both art and science involved in branding your business-of-one. We call it being a ‘sophisticated job seeker’ – and it’s what separates the best talent from the pack. Know how to market your brand effectively and you’ll be working smarter, not harder.

Meet Pam: From ‘Seasoned & Unemployed’ to ‘Sophisticated & Hired’

Pam is a 50-something professional who joined CareerHMO because she was sure she was experiencing age discrimination. She was applying for jobs online like crazy, but not getting any calls. On the rare occasion she landed an interview, she’d leave feeling she ‘nailed it’ – only to get the rejection email almost immediately. She was desperate since her finances were dwindling. The stress was getting to her. She was depressed and scared. Thus, as hard as it was to do, Pam was ready to start over and learn a new way to look for work.

Step 1: Change Perspective to Change Results

Pam first worked through a series of exercises that helped her see the situation from the employer’s eyes. She quickly embraced the fact she needed to become a savvy business-of-one who could anticipate and prove she could deliver on an employer’s needs. The clearer she got on how she could be the aspirin to an employer’s pain today, the more confident she became. NOTE: This was an especially important Ah-ha Moment for Pam. Up until this point, the ‘seasoned pro’ in her had assumed she knew herself well, only to find out what she thought was most valuable about her was, in fact, not seen has valuable by employers. She had been selling the wrong strengths – and sending the wrong message to employers in the process!

Step 2: Create the Right Tools

Once Pam had her brand properly redefined, she was finally capable of building the proper tools to assist her in the job search. These included, but aren’t limited to:

  • Interview Bucket List
  • Transferable Skills List (Keywords)
  • Resume
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Disruptive Cover Letter
  • Behavioral Interview Prep

[FYI – I’ve written about every one of the tools listed above here on the LinkedIn blog. I took the time to link to each article so you can access them easily to learn more.]

These tools helped her not only get the interviews, but also clarify what she needed in an employer for it to be a win-win. For the first time, she had the power to control who she wanted to work for and was able to target her efforts towards the employers she felt most connected to. And that lead to…

Step 3: Own the Relationship Process

Pam learned how to use online networking to establish her credibility so she could confidently reach out and connect with fellow professionals and expand her circle of influence. She used the proper process and techniques to generate awareness and respect for her skills. This lead her to a new position with a Fortune 1000 on her bucket list.

Today, Pam has a great new job. But, more importantly, she’s gained the skills needed to be a sophisticated job seeker. Which means, if/when she needs to look for a job again, she’ll know what to do.

Stop Agonizing, Start Studying!

Any seasoned professional who can accept times have changed and that experience isn’t enough to stay employed is ready to explore a new way of looking for work. From there, it’s just a matter of engaging with resources to help you close the gaps in your knowledge (i.e. this video series is free), and find a way to keep your mindset positive and focused on the goal. If you allow yourself to fall back into the, “it’s not fair” mindset, you’ll only make it harder on yourself, right? Still, that can be tough to manage on our own. You’ll benefit from a support system to help you keep your eye on the prize.

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