Are you a Baby Boomer looking for a job and just…overwhelmed…by it all? Take heart, my friend; networking can help you get to where you want to be.
The job market is not as grim as you might think, regardless of your age. In fact, the employment picture is looking rosy all the way around: 6 million jobs were available last year – almost the exact same number of people who were unemployed (6.7 million), according to the February 2018 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, have much to commend them.
- According to research done by the Society for Human Resources Management, older workers were seen by 71% of respondents as “more mature/professional” than younger workers.
- 70% of the more than 1,900 human resources professionals surveyed also said older workers demonstrate a stronger work ethic than their younger counterparts.
Neither of those statistics should be surprising to those of us in the Boomer demographic. Been there, done that. Still doing that, in fact.
Workers older than 50 are staying at their workplaces three times longer (yes, you read that correctly) than their younger counterparts, said Tim Driver, CEO of RetirementJobs.com, which matches companies with older workers looking for jobs. Less turnover means fewer dollars spent in training and lost productivity (up to 2 times the employee’s annual salary).
So now that you’re pumped up and feeling pretty good about your chances (as you should be), let’s talk about how to get one of those jobs. The best way: Networking.
How to use networking to get your next job
If you’ve been looking at the classifieds (in whatever format) to find your next job, stop.
The American Association of Retired Persons states that fully 80% of available jobs are not advertised. This means you need to figure out other ways to find out about those positions.
Networking is all about using the connections you already have to learn about hiring opportunities. You can do it through online business and professional social networking platforms liked LinkedIn, my fave. If you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be.
But guess what? It takes a looooong time to develop relationships to the point where you feel comfortable chatting up people about employment possibilities. Remember, social networks – even those for business and professional people – are still social. To push yourself and your agenda (whatever that might be) on the most casual of acquaintance is definitely in poor taste.
Instead, look a lot closer to home. Let’s start off with a list:
- Whom do you know? Put only people who know you fairly well on this list. Be sure to include former bosses and colleagues with whom you had a good relationship, as well as any vendors or other professionals like your accountant.
- Get in touch. Easiest thing to do is shoot off a quick email. If you are connected to them on social media, a private message would be good, too. Or hey — pick up the phone. Just be sure your contact has the time to take your call.
- Ask for an appointment. Tell them you’re looking for a job and that since you have history, you’d like to get their input on the present job scene. You are NOT asking them for a job; if they offer, bonus! Your purpose is to find out if they know who is hiring people with your experience and skill set.
- Conduct an informational interview. If you have a robust relationship with this person, ask them to give you feedback: How they perceive your talents, where they see you fitting in, what the hiring scene looks like in their industry, etc. Clearly, this conversation is best done over coffee or lunch; be sure to pick up the tab.
- Create a 15-second personal branding statement. In olden times, this was called an elevator speech and it used to be 30 seconds long. No more. You’ve got 15 seconds to tell your story in such a way that invites the other person to ask for more information. It should be some variation of “I help ______ so that they ________.”
- Attend networking functions. Local chambers of commerce generally have formal meetings during the workday and more casual networking evening meetings. Generally, professionals in banking, real estate, etc., attend the workday/luncheon meetings and small business owners/solopreneurs are at the evening gatherings. You’ll want to hit them both.
While chambers are a great place to start, they are not the only place. There may be groups like Rotary, Business and Professional Women, BNI, etc., where you might find great new connections. Or how about garden clubs, fraternal organizations, and so on? The possibilities are endless. Ask your existing connections what they recommend and be sure to offer your help in return.
Once you get your leads, be ready to jump on them with an updated resumed, a killer cover letter and a power outfit to wear on your job interview. If you need help, I’d be happy to have a free conversation.
If you follow these networking tips and stick with your search, you are well on your way to finding a great job.
What advice would you add to this list? What questions can I answer? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
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