By Gerrit Hall
The tight job market has affected all demographics -- but older workers have really felt the squeeze, particularly if they found themselves out of work for one reason or another. Statistics show that older workers are unemployed for an average of 44 weeks (more than 10 months), according to an AARP report.
After a recent post by my co-founder Sean, on the things employers want to see on your resume, we recognized how easy it is to get frustrated and want to give up during the job search. But staying active and positive is the key to job search success. Follow the tips below to maximize your job search and get one step closer to your ideal position.
1. Sell, sell, sell. Consistently, the biggest mistake we see is that people write a ‘me’ focused resume. A primary example of this is the outdated objective statement – if you have the word ‘seeking’ on your resume, you’re writing a ‘me’ resume. Employers don’t hire you for your satisfaction; they hire you to fill their own critical need. Think of it this way. If you were in sales, would you ever say to a customer “Buy this item because I need the commission”? And if you were the customer, would you buy? A ‘me’ centered resume says essentially the same thing.
Your job is to think of the potential employer as a customer. You’ve know they’re a hot lead because they’ve taken the time to post the job – so someone is going to close the deal with them. How do you make sure they go with you? By selling to them like you would sell to anyone else. Figure out their pain points. Why are they hiring? Who have they hired in the past? What’s their most critical need? And then go in there with your sales guns blazing; be the solution to their problem.
2. Really tap your network. As you’ve heard before, “it’s who you know” that often helps you land a job. This is especially true with small businesses who cannot afford to post jobs on pricey job boards (or don’t have the time to sift through the hundreds of applications they may receive), but some larger companies also rely on referrals to fill open positions.
Actively keep in touch with former colleagues, friends, and family, and let them know you’re on the job search. If you know someone who works at an organization you’d like to work for, ask them to grab coffee or lunch to strengthen your relationship and inquire about possible opportunities there.
3. Perfect your resume. If you’re on the job search, your first priority should be your resume. It must show your value to potential employers to ensure you make it to the interview round. Make sure resume uses active writing to show hiring managers and recruiters what you accomplished and what you’re capable of.
Make sure that your resume is clean and clutter free. Anything that does not effectively sell your skills needs to go. Clean up your resume by using the ever faithful bullet points. Always keep in mind that less is sometimes more. You don’t need to get too fancy with fonts, language or formatting.
4. Search for free using your resources. Find job opportunities from sites across the Web -- from job boards and government sites, to company career sites and newspapers, and more. Set up email alerts or RSS feeds to learn about jobs as they’re posted. Keeping on top of new postings can help you be one of the first to apply and ensure you get your resume in front of employers before the position is filled.
5. Learn new skills. Although you likely have a lot of experience in your industry, there’s always room to learn something new, particularly if you have been unemployed for several months. Look for certification programs or relevant classes you can take to boost your resume and impress potential employers.
6. Use social media for personal branding and networking. According to a study by Jobvite, 16 percent of job seekers (a combination of unemployed and looking, employed and looking, or employed and open to a new job) said “an online social network directly led to finding their current/most recent job.” Of those, the majority (78 percent) attributed their job to Facebook, 40% to LinkedIn, and 42% to Twitter. Since each network can be beneficial to your job search in different ways, it’s important you don’t write off certain online opportunities because you don’t see the value or think your age demographic isn’t right for them.
You should also keep in mind that your presence on these networks represents your online brand. The majority of employers now use social media to screen job candidates, and 68 percent said they have hired someone based on what they saw about them online (such as giving a positive impression or supporting professional qualifications).
What do you think? Are there other tactics that helped you land a job when you were unemployed? Please share in the comments below!
Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free Web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes -- instantly. Gerrit has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Gerrit and RezScore on Facebook and Twitter.