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Career Change Tips for Midlife Workers

"Drive" by Timo Newton Syms of Flickr

“Drive” by Timo Newton Syms of Flickr

 

For decades you have been driving the same road to work and going to the same destination. At first you enjoyed the drive, but after decades of doing the same thing you yearn for new scenery. You’re ready to take new roads to new destinations, regardless of the challenges ahead.

In the same way that driving new roads can bring challenge, so can reinventing yourself by changing careers. There’s the fear of entering a new industry, and of not getting the position because of employer preconceptions about age. Of course, those are just fears. A career transition is possible whether you’re 40, 50, or older. As long as the desire and passion to change is present, new adventures and success are within your grasp.

 

With experience comes value

A person who has been in the workforce for decades has experience and wisdom. With their experience, they know how to get the job done and have leadership abilities. They have also seen things done wrong and have seen things done right, through their own and others’ trials and errors. Their skills have been well-honed and this can give them an edge over younger workers. If new skills are needed for a reinvention, it is possible to return to school, apprentice, take on new tasks, hire a coach, or volunteer in order to acquire them.

Take the case of Karen Love: She worked in the news media for decades at various major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. At age 65, Karen decided it was time for a change. She went back to school and earned a master’s degree in Gerontology, the study of aging, and landed a position as an Outreach Coordinator at a community center helping senior citizens. This career change allowed Karen to fulfill a long-time desire to help senior citizens get involved with their community, to help them stay active, and to help them remain connected after retirement.

 

Assess yourself and target your next employer

Mentally prepare by assessing yourself and your next employer. These actions can make a career transition easier. A few questions to consider when performing a self-assessment are:

Why do you want to change careers? Are you bored with your line of work? Or is a greater purpose calling you? After you determine what you DON’T want, think about what you DO want. Is it the opposite of what you don’t want? Or is it a completely new experience? If you find yourself struggling with this topic, try focusing on your passions and your purpose, as opposed to the viability for what you think you can be hired.

What qualities can you transfer to a new career? This goes beyond your skills and can include your perspective, approach, and methodologies.

What value can you bring to a new employer? How can your decades of experience be an asset?

Once you have the answers to these questions, it’s time to consider what you’re looking for from your next employer. As a general rule-of-thumb, an employer should meet about 80% of your personal criteria. Developing a list of criteria will help determine what you want and need from a potential employer. Do you prefer flexible hours? What are the personal values you possess that are most important to you, that you want to share with your future employer? These are factors that can aid you in your job search. Once you have your criteria, your next step is to create a target company list. It allows you to hone in on a potential employer and laser target them, as opposed to spreading a wide search net.

 

Résumé re-examination

Reevaluate your resume. If you haven’t changed jobs lately, it may be time to reformat and bring your résumé up to current standards. Not only have résumés changed in the past few decades, but they’ve changed in the past few years. The one-size-fits-all approach no longer works and many companies use applicant tracking software to scan résumés for industry-relevant keywords. If those keywords aren’t present, the résumé is eliminated from the system. If your résumé lands in front of a hiring manager, they will only spend a few seconds scanning it before they either contact you, or toss your résumé. Including keywords in a customized résumé helps you to better stand out from the crowd.

Unfortunately, some employers do have a bias against age. When it comes to this, sometimes you can change someone’s mind and sometimes you can’t. Age discrimination does happen and it’s not worth anyone’s effort or energy to fight. It’s just like one of my favorite sayings I learned doing door-to-door sales: “Some will, some won’t. So what? Next!” By optimizing your ability to articulate and promote the value you can bring to an employer, and by having a relatively youthful attitude and lifestyle this particular challenge can be overcome. Some employers will always have a closed mind when it comes to age. Your confidence and optimism will attract open-minded employers.

 

Use technology in the job search

Being visible to potential employers online is an excellent way to give yourself an edge by showing how youthful and in-touch you are. Your top qualities are best demonstrated through your actions. Having an online presence on social media can show how savvy you are by making technology part of your career campaign. Social media allows you to expand the network you’ve built over the years and allows potential employers to easily discover you. A well-maintained presence on LinkedIn can help accelerate your discoverability, as 95% of recruiters use this social network to discover talent and research potential employees. Furthermore, using LinkedIn’s Pulse, Tweet chats, and attending Meetups allow you to stay on top of the latest technology. If you anticipate working among or competing against millennials, create and maintain a presence in the same spaces as millennials. This means being active on Instagram, trying out Snapchat, and even experimenting with Periscope. Knowing about the latest technology and having years of experience can make you a formidable job candidate.

 

Stay fit and active

Staying fit and active can help combat the idea that midlife workers don’t have the energy or stamina to get the job done. Not only does being physically fit give your mind and body a boost, but it also increases your vibrancy and energy. Your can-do attitude can only go so far if you lack the energy to get the job done.

 

Imagine overcoming the hurdle of leaving the industry you’ve been part of for decades and the joy of discovering a new career. Are you fulfilling a long-time desire in your life? Are you seeking new adventures? Or do you just want to leave for greener pastures before retirement? Changing careers during or after your midlife may seem like a challenge. It doesn’t have to be. You have the skills, experience, wisdom and knowledge you spent decades acquiring. Those qualities can help you move beyond your current position and into career change you’ve always wanted.

 

Is Your Social Media Presence Hindering Your Job Prospects?

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr creative commons. ("social media" - http://bit.ly/1CtSBKH.)

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr creative commons. (“social media” – http://bit.ly/1CtSBKH.)

Job seekers may not realize how heavily their social media profiles can weigh on their job prospects. A social media presence that complements a professional image is just as important as having a great résumé and interview skills. An unprofessional and inappropriate social media presence can easily close the door to career advancement. A 2014 Jobvite survey revealed 93% of companies and recruiters use social media to find candidates. A good number of job seekers aren’t searching for work in the same places job recruiters are looking for candidates, despite both parties leveraging the power of social media. By simply going where recruiters are looking for talent, smart job seekers can overcome the social media mismatch. Job seekers can also take their search a step further by making sure their social media presence enhances their job search efforts.

Going Where the Recruiters Are

In March 2013 I wrote about how less than half of unemployed job seekers have LinkedIn profiles. Even fewer employed job seekers are on LinkedIn. Nearly two years later, the data hasn’t changed at all. A 2014 Jobvite survey revealed 86% job seekers who leverage social media use Facebook as their platform of choice. Of those surveyed 76% stated they found their current position through Facebook. The survey also showed 40% of job seekers used Twitter, another 37% used Google+, while LinkedIn came in dead last at 36%. When it comes to looking for and landing a job, Facebook is clearly the winner among the majority of job seekers.

When it comes to recruiters searching for job candidates, the Jobvite survey paints a very different picture. A whopping 94% of respondents used LinkedIn to find and hire potential employees. Facebook is a close second at 65%, Twitter is third at 55%, and poor Google+ has been left in the dust with only 18% of recruiters using this social media platform. LinkedIn is the social network of choice among job recruiters, and it is underutilized by the majority of job seekers. The fact that LinkedIn is so heavily ignored by the bulk of job seekers means there is plenty of opportunity for those willing to use the platform.

Your Social Media Presence Can Help or Hinder You

First and foremost, it is important to maintain all of your social networking profiles. If you’re actively searching for a job, a recruiter will check out your social media profiles at some point during the hiring process. A Reppler survey broke down the phases where hiring managers use social networking sites to screen candidates. About 47% of hiring mangers checked social media profiles after receiving an application. 27% of hiring managers checked social media after an initial conversation with the prospective employee. Another 15% checked after a detailed conversation with a job seeker, 7% of hiring managers did not use social media to screen candidates, and the remaining 4% checked profiles right before making an offer. According to a Staff.com infographic, about three out of every four hiring managers and recruiters check a candidate’s social profile. What they see could have a major positive or negative impact on your job search.

Think about it. What’s better? To have a potential employer see how actively engaged you are in your field, or to discover your online profile doesn’t match your résumé? Or worse, you have a highly unprofessional social media presence. Not to belittle Facebook (or even Twitter), but a poorly-maintained profile littered with inappropriate posts or photos, along with disparaging remarks about a current employer can take a candidate out of the running for a position, just as easily as a well-maintained profile can help someone get a job offer. The pictures of you consuming a little too much alcohol during happy hour may be funny to you and your friends, but they are a major turn off to prospective employers. Likewise, if you constantly paint your current company in a bad light on social media, a recruiter may pass over you in favor of a more positive candidate.

A survey of 300 hiring managers at Reppler showed how social media is being used to screen job applicants, and why it is important to keep a well-maintained online presence. Facebook and Twitter are primarily used to form a personal view on candidates, in a way that is not always possible with LinkedIn. 76% of respondents used Facebook to screen candidates, while 53% used Twitter and the remaining 48% used LinkedIn. 69% of recruiters rejected a job candidate because of what they saw on their social media profiles. On the positive side, 68% hired a candidate because of their profiles. The candidates’ social media profiles gave recruiters a positive impression for three major reasons: their personality was an organizational fit for the company, their profile supported their professional qualifications, and their profile showcased their creativity.

How does that translate into an online social media presence that would be a good match between job seekers and employers? LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your professional experience and your specific hard skills. Hard skills are what help you get your foot in the door in the interview process. It is important to fully complete your LinkedIn profile to capture the attention of recruiters who may be researching you. If you need an example, Brynne Tillman and I have profiles that have been completely filled out. Additionally, the social network can be used to network with professionals and recruiters in your field via industry groups.

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ can also be used to highlight your professional experience, create industry-related posts, and show off your soft skills. Soft skills such as effective communication, team work, leadership and problem solving are important in helping recruiters to decide if you’ll be a good cultural fit for their company. Beyond.com surveyed more than 4,000 HR professionals and job seekers, and they revealed that hard skills earn the interview, but soft skills and a cultural match garner the job offer.  Going back to social media usage, if you had the solution to a difficult problem at work there’s no harm in posting your achievement on social networks to demonstrate your soft and hard skills. Listing membership in an industry specific organization, or your volunteer work, can also bring about more excitement and interest in you as a candidate. An optimized social media profile can get you called first for an interview, and can generate greater demand for you. The opportunities will come to you and you’ll have the luxury of choice between competing offers, and the confidence to negotiate a salary for the job of choice. In short, optimizing your social media presence to accentuate professional image in conjunction with LinkedIn is a great way to standout among the many job seekers using social media.

How do you view your social media presence? Are you utilizing your various social networks to their fullest potential? Or are you part of the 64% of job seekers who don’t have a LinkedIn profile?  The savviest of job seekers are hunting for opportunity on LinkedIn, and taking full advantage of recruiters’ overwhelming preference for the platform. If you’re already on LinkedIn, is your profile fully optimized and visible to recruiters who are looking for you right now? If you’re not using all of LinkedIn’s features to your advantage, you could be losing out on your next major job opportunity. Changing your default headline and polishing your profile are two major ways to stand out from the crowd. You can take your job search to the next level, and unveil your brilliance by leveraging all four social networks to make yourself an appealing candidate to job recruiters.

Survivor – The Search Is Over

Music video by Survivor performing The Search Is Over. (C) 1985 Sony Music Entertainment

Only 44% of unemployed job seekers have LinkedIn profiles and other staggering data

I’m surprised at how frequently a job seeker will ask me if recruiters are really looking for candidates on LinkedIn. I’m also surprised how many job seekers still don’t have a presence on LinkedIn. Even if you are not a job seeker, unless you are financially free, chances are good you will be in the next 3 years! What are you waiting for?

Here is some lovely data to back up my assertion.

Results of my 2012 Discussion posed: How much time do you spend on LinkedIn each week, and is it regimented or as needed? If as needed, what is the need that precipitates it?

Though this discussion did not garner significant participation, I feel I made a promise to share the results and I like to keep my promises.

I posted this discussion on 7 different LinkedIn recruiting and human resources groups and received responses from 7 people from 3 different groups (ERE.net, Global Recruiting Alliance, and Purple Squirrel Quest).

  • 2 were Certified Internet Recruiters
  • 1 was a C-level executive
  • 2 owned their own recruiting companies
  • 1 was an outsourced HR professional working onsite
  • 1 was just a super-savvy recruiter

The consensus was that LinkedIn was something they used daily for at least an hour a day.

Some interesting differences:

  • A CIR often used the LinkedIn profile as the primary profile of their candidates, rather than a résumé.
  • The savvy recruiter was very focused on using LinkedIn to build a proactive pipeline.
  • The C-level executive checked LinkedIn status updates hourly.
  • A CIR and one of the business owners cite using LinkedIn’s community features to stay connected to their industry.
  • The other business owner used LinkedIn 8-10 hours per day during the week and several hours over the weekend!

Since these results are interesting, but not significant, I wanted to share some data from a report with much more meaningful data. This data is from the Jobvite 2012 Social Recruiting Report

http://bit.ly/SRR13

“Social recruiting not only increases the number of applicants in the hiring pipeline, but also the quality of candidates.”

  • 92% of respondents use or plan to use social media for recruiting, an increase of almost ten percent from the 83% using social recruiting in 2010. In 2011 it was 89%.
  • 73% have successfully hired a candidate through social networks, making social recruiting a highly effective source of quality new hires. – up from 58% in 2010! 89% of the time, this was through LinkedIn!
  • A large majority of recruiters (71%) consider themselves savvy in social recruiting, having a sizeable understanding of what to look for in social profiles.
  • 49% of recruiters who implemented social recruiting saw an increase in the quantity of candidates, and 43% noted a surge in the quality of candidates.

So where are they on social media?

  • 93% have adopted LinkedIn – up from 78% in 2010!
  • 66% on Facebook – up from 55%
  • 54% are on Twitter – up fro 45%

That’s still more on Twitter than aren’t on Twitter!

What I would like to know is, what percentage of their time on social media, LinkedIn in particular, is dedicated to what part of the recruiting cycle. If I had to guess, based on how I used to use LinkedIn and train recruiters to use it, it would be broken down as such:

  • 10% to blast out job openings (since this doesn’t take much time now)
  • 40% to source candidates
  • 20% to qualify already sourced candidates
  • 20% to compare candidates for interview opportunities
  • 10% to compare candidates for offers

Can anyone out there confirm or dispute this?

Since they also do a job seeker report and I have so many job seekers apparently unaware of the frequency with which LinkedIn is depended upon, I wondered how many job seekers are actually hip to the trend.

Firstly, here’s a staggering number – 75%

  • 75% of the workforce is looking for a job!
  • 48% of those are employed. Both of these numbers are up from last year. 69% of the workforce was job-hunting then and only 35% were employed.
  • 61% of those job seekers say job seeking is much harder than it was in 2011.
  • 41% of job seekers are unemployed (sounds like a good topic for a vlog!)

So, here it is:

  • 44% of unemployed job seekers have a LinkedIn profile.  Say WHAT?!
  • 85% are on Facebook (no surprise)
  • 51% are on Twitter (that is surprising!)

Even more surprising

  • 31% of employed job seekers have a LinkedIn profile!
  • 75% are on Facebook
  • 31% are on Twitter

Of them all, Facebook was the most likely site to take a candidate out of the running!

Volunteering and organizational memberships were very highly weighted in a job seeker’s favor.

So, there is a meal for thought.

If you don’t know where to start, we have webinars available for this exact reason.

To at least get you going on LinkedIn, go here: http://bit.ly/7daysLI

To make sure that once you are up and running you can be in the right type of action that will help you land sooner based on how recruiters are actually searching, go here: http://bit.ly/3jobsecrets

And by the way – we write LinkedIn profiles that attract unsolicited job offers! Not all of our clients are job seekers, but they sure get sought out, and some even make career advancements they thought were years away! www.charesume.com

😉