At a recent networking meeting I met an employer who had been gun-ho to hire professionals with 30-years experience. She owned a frame shop and had just revived it through a website, growing social media presence, and on-line marketing that drove traffic to her website and her front brick and mortar store. To add to her excitement, she’d just hired a mature sales and marketing professional with 30-years exemplary experience. She figured she’d found gold.
But the gold mine lost its luster quickly. Within a month, she saw sales begin to slide. Within two months, they were lower, and by three months she’d lost 75% of what she’d held at the beginning of the quarter. The problem? Her 30-year veteran had poisoned a once productive staff with outdated sales methods that didn’t adjust to innovative technology.
Instead of adding value, the professional damaged customer relationships, micro managed staff in a power struggle based on youth, and didn’t understand the power of social media marketing. At the end of the first quarter, she terminated her mature worker and focused on regaining her lost market share.
Keep Your Resume Current
As a resume writer, I talk with a lot of workers over 50 whose resumes aren’t winning interviews. A closer look reveals they’ve listed experience dating back over 15 years, sometimes experience from 20-30 years ago. The logic is that career opportunities from Fortune 500 companies are important even if the experience was 20-30 years ago.
Liken this to saying you learned to type on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Although IBM is a large corporation, iPads, iPhones and text messaging replaced the now outdated Selectric typewriter. Staying in tune with today’s technology means keeping your resume updated with relevant, timely experience. While experience from 20 years ago is relevant in some situations, the norm suggests experience beyond 10-12 years ago is outdated.
Listing experience that dates back beyond 10-12 years opens the door to being overlooked. What matters is listing relevant accomplishments, if you’ve learned and implemented new skills, and do you know and understand today’s technology to stay connected through iPads, iPhones and real-time technology? If you haven’t done any of these, check out free services like SCORE, local city colleges and see if you can get training.
Networking is all about making connections and moving forward. Groups like Sunrise Business Builders focus on getting to “like, know and trust” professionals who may become colleagues, business associates or partners. SCORE workshops provide educational workshops to hone your skills and provide pools of professionals who connect and motivate each other. Active Job Seekers of America are groups of unemployed or under employed professionals networking to find work and move forward. Whatever group you join, make sure to interact with all age groups and all levels of professionals. Seek out your college alumni associations, join the Chamber of Commerce, but find a networking group-whether free or paid-that mixes age-groups so you brush shoulders with those who are always moving forward. Another key networking tool is LinkedIn. Lindsey Pollack, a LinkedIn spokesperson from the Greater New York City area, wrote a recent blog outlining ways over-50 job seekers can maximize this tool to find a job.
Know Your Strengths
What do you truly love to do? If you had your dream opportunity, what would it be? In his book, Strengthfinders 2.0, Tom Rath discusses how to find your personal strengths. By doing so, you can determine what jobs are best suited for you and what personal traits help you excel. Combining the book with an online questionnaire opened only with a key code found by purchasing his book, Rath helps people discover where they fit in best.
When you connect with a job that feeds your strengths, you focus on things you love to do and your passion will flow into it like a stream into open water. Pursue those avenues that you love and find a way to connect with professionals in that line of work. When you emotionally and mentally connect with work you enjoy, your productivity thrives, your performance skyrockets and your value and contributions push past the roadblocks to prosperity. Use the Internet to find groups that follow this passion and join in. As one of my previous blogs noted, never underestimate the value of a casual conversation. It can open doors to new career opportunities in unique ways.
Never Stop Learning
Above all else, learn new skills and keep learning. In his most current blog, Rod Ebrahimi notes that the best entrepreneurs never stop learning to stay ahead of the competition. Stagnating will leave you behind in today’s constantly changing global economy. Tenacity, intelligence and the ability to adapt are three factors critical to being a forward thinker that adds to your professional value.
Mature workers bring a plethora of ideas and knowledge to the work place. They remain a solid foundation to the work force. But instead of resting on your laurels, expand your offerings by assimilating to the new world of business and grow with the flow. Connecting your past with the future and conveying that in an interview, casual conversation or on your resume will open the door to new career opportunities and expand your future to new generations.