Some time ago the Wall Street Journal carried a story about a 49-year-old public relations specialist, laid off four years ago, currently working as a seasonal post office employee. “Could he hope to be back on a payroll?” the article asked.
Here’s what I’d advise if he called me.
(1) Gain momentum early.
When you first suspect your job is going away, begin taking steps to your new career. If you’re not sure what to do, invest in a coach or consultant before you need one.
(2) Discover the difference between career change and career success.
Long time readers will recognize this idea.
Corporate success is like pro football: you’re rewarded for following someone else’s game plan and being in the right place at the right time. Career change is like playground basketball: be ready to scramble.
(3) Avoid a functional resume.
Midlife professionals often wonder if they should leave off dates and focus on skills. Alas, HR managers realize what you’re doing. Everyone’s reading the same career advice. Employers have become suspicious of functional resumes, suspecting you have something to hide. (That’s why they used functional resumes in their job search.)
I’ve seen people hit a wall with functional resumes, then hit a home run with a well-designed chronological resume.
(4) Use a backdoor strategy to search.
You may find a job on the Internet, but more likely you’ll connect with someone who knows someone who … I don’t recommend, “interviewing for information” when you’re a seasoned pro.
Instead, find creative ways to develop contacts that build on your experience. Ideally, your resume (and your age) will be viewed as irrelevant.
(5) Explore self-employment.
I would never encourage a client to stop searching for a “real” job with a paycheck and benefits. But sometimes you’ll earn more income — faster — by hiring yourself.
The WSJ article describes a retired PR person who earns fourteen dollars an hour as a relief mail carrier.
Scary. But not necessary. Most likely he could come up with half a dozen ways to sell his skills for a much higher hourly rate. For instance, if you have writing skills you could become a paid blogger. Almost anyone can become a virtual assistant.
Some of my clients have been surprised at how well they performed as solo-preneurs. But they were even more surprised to realize they were becoming more marketable as job candidates.
Who would a hiring manager choose: Mark, a desperate soul who’s been pounding the pavement in between minimum-wage jobs? Or Mary, a confident businessperson who’s demonstrating that she can attract paying customers?
Jobs are like bank loans. They’re most likely to arrive when you don’t absolutely have to have them.
Do these tips resonate with you? What’s your own experience? Reply in the comments below.