One question we ask our customers is, “When did you last have to look for work?” Invariably we’ll get answers like “15 years,” “20,” 30,” and so on. On the other hand, others haven't had to look for work in the past five or ten years, some in the past two years or less. The disparity is great between customers who have been long-tenured workers and those who are adept at the job search process.
Those new to the job search required of today didn't have to write a CV that fits today’s standards, if write one at all. Nor did they have to go through five to 10 rounds of interviews. They might also be new to networking, never used Linked-In, haven't engaged in informational meetings, and used other job-search methods. Some tell me, "Companies came to me. I didn't have to do anything."
These people have a lost look on their face. It's as if they have to learn to walk all over again.
Needless to say, there have been major changes in the job search in the past decade or two, changes that represent challenges to people who aren't used to a different job search. Here are eight components of the job search that are new to older workers.
1. Dealing with ‘being out of work’. This comes as a complete shock, especially for those who worked at their last job for 20+ years. Gone is their routine, the camaraderie they shared with their colleagues, the income they came to rely on. Also greatly reduced is their self-esteem and confidence.
They know they are experienced and valuable workers, but there's self-doubt and fear that the job search will be long. They have heard of many people now out of work and struggling to find employment in today’s job market. In the back of their mind they know the longer they're out of work, the harder it will be to regain it. There's also the fear of age discrimination, which they never faced before.
2. Longer hiring process. The good news is that employers are hiring. The bad news is that it's taking them longer to pull the trigger. I'm witness to many jobseekers who are getting jobs but usually after a longer process than before. It's not unusual for job candidates to be interviewed multiple times over the telephone and endure additional face-to-face interviews.
One of my customers endured five telephone interviews before being hired (but he never met with anyone at the company). Another was hired after 12 personal interviews—no lie. This goes to show that employers are more cautious than in the past; they don't want to make hiring mistakes, as it can cost thousands to hire a replacement employee.
3. CVs have changed. Employers won’t spend time on your application if in the first ten seconds they can’t see how your background matches their requirements. They also want to see accomplishments on CVs, not just duties. There are enough articles written on how it's important to list quantified accomplishment statements. (Read this article that explains Uncomfortable CVs) The process used by larger organisations (Woolworths, Coles, Resource Sector Companies, Recruitment Agencies, etc) who receive hundreds of applications every day, to cull applications is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Which is search software that eliminates approximately 75% of all applications, based on the lack of keywords. Approximately 95% of my customers haven't heard of the ATS.
In addition, older workers must be cognisant of possible age discrimination based on the number of years they go back in their work history. I suggest my customers go back no further than ten years and include a summarised section called Previous Experience. The larger reason for limiting your work experience, though, is relevance; namely what you did 25, 30 or more years isn't relevant to what employers are looking for today.
For assistance in finding how you can network to open opportunities for your situation, please call us on 1300 366 104, or email email@example.com.
4. Networking is imperative. Remember the days when someone would come to you and offer you a job without you needing to apply? This is because they were part of your network. They know of your work and approached you. The same happens today, however keeping good relationships in today’s world is becoming harder and harder, especially if you’re not keeping up to date with technology.
Now your business is called Me Inc.; meaning you are your own business and therefore networking is absolutely necessary. And it can be uncomfortable, even scary. (Read this article on Networking.) Anywhere from 60% to 80% of your success can be attributed to personal networking.
5. Linked-In arrived on the scene. At least 96% of hiring authorities (recruiters/hiring managers/HR) are using Linked-In to assist in culling talent. 12 years ago Linked-In didn't exist. My customers who haven't had to look for work since then feel like a confused child when they hear of Linked-In's ability to help them find work.
Some are even afraid of "being on the Internet." This is an immediate stopgap to Linked-In. When I hear some of the long-tenured employees say they're reluctant to disclose too much information, I'm inclined to tell them not to join Linked-In. (Read this article on how LinkedIn isn't for everyone.) You cannot be afraid of the Internet if you want to benefit from Linked-In.
6. Most jobs are posted online. Older workers are now faced with the prospect of searching for jobs on job boards like Seek.com, Indeed.com, and a plethora of others. Because most jobs—75%-80%—are unadvertised, this is time often wasted. In addition, the applications are difficult to fill out for some older workers who aren't familiar with the computer.
Twenty years ago I remember picking up the Sunday edition of the Sydney Morning Heraldwhich was thick with job ads, and the challenges of the Hidden Job Market weren't as glaring as they are today. More jobs were obtained by using newspapers to locate them, and then we simply sent a standard generic résumé to land an interview.
This speaks to changes in technology, which some older workers struggle with.
7. Telephone interviews are more challenging. Telephone interviews are fast becoming the traditional screening process for Hiring Managers. Yes, employers want to know your salary requirement, but the questions go way beyond that. Telephone interviews are conducted by most employers.
People can fall into many traps at a phone interview, such as thinking it will be much easier than a face to face interview. So they don’t get dressed up, they don’t do as much preparation and therefore their mind-set isn’t where it should be. They think they can have all their information in front of them, ready to read from. Experienced interviewers see (hear) right through this.
In fact a phone interview is much more daunting than a face to face interview, as all you can do to influence the interviewer is done through the mouth, ie no body language can be conveyed (neither they see yours nor you see theirs). Periods of silence are the hardest things to deal with, but should be expected.
8. The personal interview is tougher. Many of my customers are taken aback by group interviews. 30 or so years ago, group interviews were not common. Rather, companies would conduct one-on-one interviews to size up the job candidates. Group interviews are commonplace these days; they should be expected.
The group interviews aren't the only challenge candidates are facing. Tough questions, such as behavioural-based and situational, as well as testing to gauge one's knowledge. Interviewers are asking questions that get to the core of the applicants abilities and cultural fit. One of my customers told me that after a five-person group interview, he felt like he'd gone three rounds with Mike Tyson. He told me this prior to his next interview with the company, and maybe additional interviews after that. When do they end?
These are a few of the changes that have occurred since older workers have had to look for work. Very talented people, who were at the top of their company, are experiencing changes that are hard for them to grapple with. But eventually they get into the groove and learn the proper principles of today’s job search. Some of our more ‘mature’ customers even see this as a welcomed challenge.
To know how you can increase opportunities in today’s job market, call us on 1300 366 104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.