A Guide to Finding Work

Search for Work, the Lost Art in a Changing Environment

Lost your Job? Redundancy after decades of dedicated work? Over 50 and unsure what to do?

You have a redundancy package to support you for a while, but then what. How do you approach finding work when you haven’t done it for so long? Initially you think it’s the same as before, you have skills, people will want you. And that is the case. You will have skills, but the trick is not in having them, it’s getting them in front of the right people, and it’s a strange new world out there where experience isn’t key to finding work. Sad but true.   
There are plenty of companies after a piece of your redundancy money, offering post redundancy services involving re-training or just advisory on navigating the current recruitment world. Some are good, some are not, some are competent, some are not, but all will charge a pretty penny for you to find out which one they are. 
At P2P we decided to offer some suggestions to try out yourself. Suggestions for what you can do to plan your own route back into employment. These are our thoughts in writing and are for guidance only. Your choices will be your own. But before sinking your hard-earnt severance into someone else’s pocket just think about what you can and can’t do for yourself. And give it a go if you can!

Objectives for your Career 

Many people that have worked for a long tenure at one company will have multiple skills. You must decide a clear target for yourself on your most valued skill. Don’t be indecisive and have an “I will do anything” mentality. Strive for the role that will make you happy and content. You can always change direction later but be clear on your expectation for the target role. But also, be realistic. We can all be dreamers, but does your experience mean you can deliver the role for your potential employers. Is your experience demonstrable? Are you a relevant candidate? If no, then look to train to become that specialist or think again. Brutal I know but will want to save you time and energy. There are government backed return to work training options if you search for them.  

Personal Assessment 

This is vital. Redundancy hits many hard, and confidence can sometimes vanish overnight. 
 You must remind yourself of you! Review all the good things you have achieved throughout your career and bring them to the front of your thoughts. We all forget so much on day to day excellence we have provided because it was normal, second nature to deliver. Look at your CV and the roles you have had. That is your marketing tool, but also your aide-memoire. Think about each company or role you have worked within and identify your most valuable transferable skills and notable achievements. These thoughts will be key. They sell you to the prospective employer but also act as a reminder to you on how good you are. Never forget that! Also, practice talking about yourself with friends or family, or even alone. You are selling yourself but its un-natural too many to “blow their own trumpet”, so practice will make it easier. And time yourself. When an interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, aim for 4-5 minutes of “you the person” to start, then quickly to “you the professional”. Remember to mention your newly remembered key achievements that make you proud.  

Preparation to go to Market

Firstly, I will need to state an opinion. Jobs will not fall into your lap unless you network to all your friends (will cover shortly) Finding a job is a full-time occupation. Plan your time well and give yourself 5-8 hours a day to find that dream role. The more time you spend on this, the greater the return should be. 

CV Preparation and presentation

Your CV is the most important document you need. It should be clear and focussed on your target role. No more than 3 pages, in fact 2 is ideal. It’s a sad fact that most recruiters will only skim the first page unless something catches their eye quickly. Ensure that the CV you send for a role reflects the skills the employer is looking for. Showcase your suitability. All CVs should truly reflect your capabilities. If it’s on your CV you will be asked about it, so unless you can demonstrate an experience do not include it. Ideally your opening executive summary will make the opening pitch for you. Follow that with skills and then career history. Make sure dates and titles are accurate. Describe your role and key achievements within the role. Some people add reasons for leaving, some don’t. It’s a personal choice and you will be asked in the interview anyway. And as mentioned, watch the length. I would always ask a third party/friend to review the content. Check it flows and makes sense to others. And please spell check at the end. You are always judged on spelling and grammar.
With your target role clear, your CV ready and your self-pitch rehearsed to perfection, its time to go to market
Referral Approach. Who do you know that can help you find work? Hirers, decision makers, old contacts. All can know the right people to recommend you to, and they have the advantage of knowing you personally. This is a primary way the older professional will find re-employment. So, don’t be shy. Ask for help. Most friends will always try for you. And politely keep asking!
Social Media. Slightly out of sequence with this, because posting on Facebook, linkedin, twitter and the like that you are looking for a new role can bring forgotten referrals back into play. It also opens the door for people searching for candidates, so keep up a flow of reminders. Social media is a numbers game. The more you spread the message the more viewers you get. Get your friends to share the messages, not just like. That way other networks can note you are looking for work.
If you use linkedin, make sure your profile is updated to reflect your status of looking for work. You can tick a box, so recruiters can contact you as well.
To save some time write generic covering letters that you will send out about yourself. Edit and personalise on each send so the approach is bespoke to the hiring manager. Try to include details of the company you are applying to, so they know you have a real interest in them, not just the role.

Salaries

Be flexible in your thoughts on this. Its likely if you have had longevity of service, you have built a reasonable salary for yourself. The company that employed you had seen your value and raised your salary to reflect the importance you had to them. This may not be the case for a new company, so offer some flexibility with a stated ambition to return to those levels. It can be possible to earn similar of sometimes more if you interview with the right company with the right skills at the right time, but many over 50s are classed as just too experienced and therefore too expensive. And trust me, CV reviewers rarely ask before rejecting on perceived cost and forget ROI value. Its strange to think that if you apply for a job advertised at £35k that you are accepting that level of salary, but assumptions will be made by the inexperienced recruiters. I would clearly state on any application the advertised salary as an acknowledgement of its acceptance. If there is a clear mismatch to your skills, then a vindication on your attraction to the role and company will need to be highlighted. It is key to cover as many perceived objections upon application because further contact to discuss isn’t guaranteed.
 
Advertising response. Search for the roles that are advertised online for your skill sets. Aggregators such as Indeed will harvest many roles into their site which can make it simple. 
 
When responding ensure you are tailoring your response to the specific details on the job spec. If its an agency, they will likely just scan for key words so make sure the CV captures the detail. Do not expect anything other than an automated response to your submission. If they feel you are right they will be in contact, but don’t assume the person reading the CV is an expert. Don’t be shy. Call them. Introduce yourself. Make friends with them. Think like you’re buying a house. You would really make the effort to befriend the estate agent as they will let you know when the house you need comes on to the market. By being in regular contact, they will remember you. The same for recruiters. Keep in touch, let them know the positives and keep driving your presence with them. But be aware, they are always under heavy workloads and targets, so empathise with them on that and keep the calls brief. 
 
If responding directly to the employer, the approach is similar. Reflect the role but also mention the company, and enthuse on the product/environment/reputation etc. Care about them and they will appreciate it. If you do get called to see them, really dig deep about their company. Be as proud to be interviewed by them as they are to work for them. When they ask, “what do you know about us?” or “why do you want to work for us?”, blow their socks off with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the company. That’s a guaranteed good impression. Again, don’t be shy in contacting them about your application if you hear nothing, as this does happen a majority of the time. 
 
Also go direct. Identify companies, look on websites, send speculative CVs if a company resonates with you, and tell them that’s the reason. Find seniors in the company on Linkedin and approach directly. Just make yourself known. They may not be looking now, but things can change quickly, and you would want to be in primary position when it does. 

Key notes

When at interview there are 4 key areas to understand.

Firstly, you are a sales person, and the product is you! And who is the only expert in the room on that subject, so be confident on the information you have and articulate it well.

Know the company that is interviewing you. Research them, research the interviewer, have they won awards, grown well. Look to the internet for market intelligence.

Know the role. Understand what you are being interviewed for. Show them how great you are for them, how enthusiastic for the role and company you are.

Know what you want from the role, both functionally and financially. They will ask so be prepared and very clear on this.

I could write a book on different ways to market yourself. Most of the basics are here, but feel free to email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have a specific question on technique and I will answer as soon as humanly possible.
Different things work for different people in different ways. There is no magic bullet on finding a job. Timing and luck play their part, but if you prepare and work hard at finding work, you can put yourself in the best of positions. Its likely that you will endure an extremely high percentage of no responses or automated rejections. Try not to get disheartened. Its not personal, they don’t know you. Automation dehumanises and allows recruiters to facelessly make mistakes. If you disagree with them, make the calls and chase for an answer. But rarely do they change their mind, although it can happen if they genuinely missed something on your CV. So be sure on how much energy to put into that scenario. 
 
If, at the end of the processes you are still struggling, then that would be the time to look at the offers from the professional services to aid you. But armed with your own efforts and the experience this has given, you will be able to better assess them and whether they offer an extra dimension that may be productive for you. If they don’t, then walk away and save your money.
But if they do have a section that is unique or different for you, but you have already delivered on some of the portfolio that they offer during your own search, then ask for a cost reduction. You don’t get if you don’t ask, that’s an absolute certainty.


P2P genuinely hope this will help some people to effectively search for new roles.
Its only meant to offer suggestions and guide to start the thought processes as to how to find another job, and maybe save you some money along the way. We do not accept any responsibilities or liabilities for utilising these ideas, that is clearly up to you. But what we can do is offer our best wishes for your endeavours and tell you to trust in your own capabilities.