5 THINGS TO DO RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU ARE LAID OFF OVER THE AGE OF 40

Laid-off or recently restructured with the year-end? Looking for a job after such a jolt when you are over 40 is more challenging than most people expect. Age shouldn’t matter when recruiters look at a resume. But, it can and it often shows up in the reality of how employers view resumes.

For example, many people over 40 have never had to apply to jobs where the application goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Or, their resume gets hit with perceptions of being “too expensive” or “over-qualified” because of the focus of their lengthy experience.

Finding a job over the age of 40 isn’t impossible. It takes strategy and a lot of leg work to move forward quickly. First, Breathe. No really, take a minute to get over what happened with the last job or you will spoil the chances with some great opportunities. But, don’t get stuck in the past and be prepared to move quickly. To kick things off on the right foot,  tackle the following 5 things as soon as you are ready to start your search:

1. UPDATE YOUR RESUME

May seem obvious, but everyone should kick their search off by getting their resume up to speed with their current search. This not only means updating the resume to incorporate your last role and latest accomplishments. But, it can also mean optimizing the resume for the ATS. There are over 900 ATS systems used and many more custom versions of this common software. So, never underestimate the critical importance of keywords and details on your resume. Consider the following to update your resume when you are over 40:

  • Job Titles. The ATS are fueled by job titles and keywords tied to those keywords. You may not know what job title you want next but be careful to make sure you have at least some variations of those job titles in your resume so that your resume will not be rejected by the ATS.
  • Focus. This comes in terms of content and not length. Most people over the age of 40 have a diverse work experience that is hard to fit to 2 pages. Thus, most people at this stage have multiple resumes so that they can focus their message to their particular audience when applying to different types of roles. Find out if you should have more than 1 resume here.
  • Keywords. There are a number of keyword types to choose from when updating your resume. Make sure that you pull from all categories and update your resume continuously to incorporate the keywords in particular jobs in your resume. Underestimating the importance of keywords is the number 1 mistake of most job seekers over the age of 40. Don’t fall for this common trap and take the time to do your research, edit your resume for specific jobs, or get help to identify the right keywords for your resume.
  • Achievements. These are expected on your resume when you are over the age of 40. Most recruiters think that if you haven’t obtained results, then what are you doing? Achievement statements are bullets with a number of some kind a result from YOUR work (not those of your team or company).
  • Highlights. This section should be included on your resume when over the age of 40 because you have probably done some big things or a lot of things across your career. This is your chance to draw immediate attention to those results and to convince the reader to dig deeper. Like achievements, you will need to include numbers and results in each highlight you include on your resume.

2. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

Although this item is at number 2 in this list, it is as important (if not more) than updating your resume. Most recruiters and talent acquisition technology systems use LinkedIn and other social media platforms to find candidates much like they would a resume database on a job board. And, there is an increasing number of systems out there that are pulling data from the social media platforms to provide analytics to the recruiter on whether you are a good fit for the role BEFORE they even look at your resume.

So, get started in making or overhauling your LinkedIn profile as soon as your resume is updated. Keywords, skills, job titles, and details are just as important as on the resume AND you aren’t limited by page count. Thus, use this opportunity to put it out there so you can be found by recruiters for the right opportunities. When updating your LinkedIn profile make sure to remember:

  • Public is public. Unlike some platforms, you generally can’t limit the visibility of content on your profile to certain groups or people. So, be mindful of what goes on your profile and whether you should be disclosing such information as ANYONE may be able to see it.
  • Content is King. At a bare minimum, your LinkedIn profile should match-up with your resume. Better yet, you should expand on each role and section so that you are maximizing each entry on your profile with all of the explanation, keywords, and details you can. Taking the time to do this the right way will make your profile dramatically more successful in recruiter engagement and your overall job search.
  • Media is Queen. LinkedIn and most social media platforms have the ability to add visual items to your profile. This can be in the form of photos, pdfs, decks, videos, etc. This means that you can should include everything you can on your profile to see the scope of your work and your experience. This will be critical to convince those recruiters or hiring managers who may be on the fence to reach out and give you a chance if they like your work.
  • Skills are crucial. Most jobseekers don’t realize this but many ATS and other talent acquisition systems are configured to pull the skills on your LinkedIn profile directly into your candidate profile in the employer’s database. This means that if you leave off skills that the employers will never know you have these skills. It can also mean an automatic rejection. So, add this section to your profile and make sure to fill your 50 skills with a clear strategy about how you want to use them in your next role.

3. GET YOUR NETWORK IN ORDER

Over the age of 40, your best asset is your network. You have worked hard to connect and grow relationships with your co-workers, clients, competitors, and vendors throughout your career. These people can be crucial assets to helping you land the interview.

But, most people never really take the time to organize their network across platforms when they move from job to job throughout their careers. Take the time to organize all of your contacts into one place and to build a strategy around how you will use this network early in your search. This will save time in the long run while also maximizing your efforts. A few things to think about when organizing your network when you are laid-off over the age of 40:

  • Compile first. This is the most frustrating part for many people as they have contacts everywhere from multiple email accounts to stacks of business cards to social media. Start pulling these lists in an excel or csv format so that they can easily be combined and cleaned-up.
  • Reconcile with social media. Once you have that list, take the time each day to start connecting with people who are in your contacts but aren’t connected with you on social media.
  • Prioritize. Not everyone you know can help you in your current job search. Take the time to go through your list once it is cleaned up to identify categories of people so that you can focus your efforts the right way.

4. FILL UP YOUR CALENDAR

Now that you have your network in order, START using it. This is where most people get stuck and don’t want to do anything. You have to get past that quickly and start talking to people. Use email, phone calls, social media – whatever works best for you. But, start using these tools to reach out and tell your network what’s going on and be clear about how they can help. Consider the following when you tap in to or start working to grow your network:

  • Come with a goal. Walk into every meeting with someone from your network with a clear goal about what you hope to accomplish in the conversation. This will help to avoid the trap of purely networking and help you to walk away with exactly what you want to keep your job search moving forward.
  • Be professional. This may also seem obvious, but not everyone that can help you in your search is someone you know professionally. But, always keep your conversation professional and polite when talking about your professional goals and how someone can help.
  • Ask for help. Don’t forget to ask for what you want when meeting with people in your growing network. This could be the names of other people that can help or help with an application. Whatever it is, the person will not know you need it unless you ask. And, make sure to be specific about what you need so the person understands exactly how they can help.
  • Follow up. Send a short email or text to the person to say thank you for the meeting within 24 hours of the interaction. People appreciate the gesture and continuing to periodically reach out will help you to keep that relationship fresh throughout your search.

5. KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING

There will be a flurry of activity in the first few weeks after you separate from your last employer. But, a job search over the age of 40 can take months in any talent market. Starting that search off by tracking everything you do, the insights that are shared, the people you meet with, and the applications you submit will help tremendously as your search continues. To start logging your efforts the right way, consider the following:

  • Company target list. Create a short list of companies that seem really interesting and you would love to work at next. This will help you to prioritize your networking as well as to set-up the right job notifications. Keep updating this list throughout your search to keep yourself on track.
  • Application tracking. Employers do it for many reasons including monitoring the history of interactions with a candidate. So, make sure to keep track of where you apply, the job title, date, and the description. This will help you to more effectively follow-up on applications and to redirect your efforts when things aren’t going as planned.
  • Networking. Job searches are long and most people’s memories are not. Keeping a log of who you meet with and when will help you to follow-up with those people periodically at regular intervals so that they remember that you are still looking.

No job search is easy when you are laid-off. The good news is that most employers know that it happens to even the best employees. So, they really want to know how you are dealing with it and if you are a good fit for their organization. And, by focusing your efforts early in the process by tackling the 5 items above you will gain the confidence (and skills) you need to tackle your job search when you are over the age of 40.

Want some help to get your search off on the right foot? The trusted Contingent Plan career advisers have helped many people over the age of 40 find their next role. Submit your old resume for a quick quote below and we’ll give you real insight on how we can help. Kick start your search today!

5 THINGS TO DO RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU ARE LAID OFF OVER THE AGE OF 40

Laid-off or recently restructured with the year-end? Looking for a job after such a jolt when you are over 40 is more challenging than most people expect. Age shouldn’t matter when recruiters look at a resume. But, it can and it often shows up in the reality of how employers view resumes.

For example, many people over 40 have never had to apply to jobs where the application goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS). Or, their resume gets hit with perceptions of being “too expensive” or “over-qualified” because of the focus of their lengthy experience.

Finding a job over the age of 40 isn’t impossible. It takes strategy and a lot of leg work to move forward quickly. First, Breathe. No really, take a minute to get over what happened with the last job or you will spoil the chances with some great opportunities. But, don’t get stuck in the past and be prepared to move quickly. To kick things off on the right foot,  tackle the following 5 things as soon as you are ready to start your search:

1. UPDATE YOUR RESUME

May seem obvious, but everyone should kick their search off by getting their resume up to speed with their current search. This not only means updating the resume to incorporate your last role and latest accomplishments. But, it can also mean optimizing the resume for the ATS. There are over 900 ATS systems used and many more custom versions of this common software. So, never underestimate the critical importance of keywords and details on your resume. Consider the following to update your resume when you are over 40:

  • Job Titles. The ATS are fueled by job titles and keywords tied to those keywords. You may not know what job title you want next but be careful to make sure you have at least some variations of those job titles in your resume so that your resume will not be rejected by the ATS.
  • Focus. This comes in terms of content and not length. Most people over the age of 40 have a diverse work experience that is hard to fit to 2 pages. Thus, most people at this stage have multiple resumes so that they can focus their message to their particular audience when applying to different types of roles. Find out if you should have more than 1 resume here.
  • Keywords. There are a number of keyword types to choose from when updating your resume. Make sure that you pull from all categories and update your resume continuously to incorporate the keywords in particular jobs in your resume. Underestimating the importance of keywords is the number 1 mistake of most job seekers over the age of 40. Don’t fall for this common trap and take the time to do your research, edit your resume for specific jobs, or get help to identify the right keywords for your resume.
  • Achievements. These are expected on your resume when you are over the age of 40. Most recruiters think that if you haven’t obtained results, then what are you doing? Achievement statements are bullets with a number of some kind a result from YOUR work (not those of your team or company).
  • Highlights. This section should be included on your resume when over the age of 40 because you have probably done some big things or a lot of things across your career. This is your chance to draw immediate attention to those results and to convince the reader to dig deeper. Like achievements, you will need to include numbers and results in each highlight you include on your resume.

2. UPDATE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE

Although this item is at number 2 in this list, it is as important (if not more) than updating your resume. Most recruiters and talent acquisition technology systems use LinkedIn and other social media platforms to find candidates much like they would a resume database on a job board. And, there is an increasing number of systems out there that are pulling data from the social media platforms to provide analytics to the recruiter on whether you are a good fit for the role BEFORE they even look at your resume.

So, get started in making or overhauling your LinkedIn profile as soon as your resume is updated. Keywords, skills, job titles, and details are just as important as on the resume AND you aren’t limited by page count. Thus, use this opportunity to put it out there so you can be found by recruiters for the right opportunities. When updating your LinkedIn profile make sure to remember:

  • Public is public. Unlike some platforms, you generally can’t limit the visibility of content on your profile to certain groups or people. So, be mindful of what goes on your profile and whether you should be disclosing such information as ANYONE may be able to see it.
  • Content is King. At a bare minimum, your LinkedIn profile should match-up with your resume. Better yet, you should expand on each role and section so that you are maximizing each entry on your profile with all of the explanation, keywords, and details you can. Taking the time to do this the right way will make your profile dramatically more successful in recruiter engagement and your overall job search.
  • Media is Queen. LinkedIn and most social media platforms have the ability to add visual items to your profile. This can be in the form of photos, pdfs, decks, videos, etc. This means that you can should include everything you can on your profile to see the scope of your work and your experience. This will be critical to convince those recruiters or hiring managers who may be on the fence to reach out and give you a chance if they like your work.
  • Skills are crucial. Most jobseekers don’t realize this but many ATS and other talent acquisition systems are configured to pull the skills on your LinkedIn profile directly into your candidate profile in the employer’s database. This means that if you leave off skills that the employers will never know you have these skills. It can also mean an automatic rejection. So, add this section to your profile and make sure to fill your 50 skills with a clear strategy about how you want to use them in your next role.

3. GET YOUR NETWORK IN ORDER

Over the age of 40, your best asset is your network. You have worked hard to connect and grow relationships with your co-workers, clients, competitors, and vendors throughout your career. These people can be crucial assets to helping you land the interview.

But, most people never really take the time to organize their network across platforms when they move from job to job throughout their careers. Take the time to organize all of your contacts into one place and to build a strategy around how you will use this network early in your search. This will save time in the long run while also maximizing your efforts. A few things to think about when organizing your network when you are laid-off over the age of 40:

  • Compile first. This is the most frustrating part for many people as they have contacts everywhere from multiple email accounts to stacks of business cards to social media. Start pulling these lists in an excel or csv format so that they can easily be combined and cleaned-up.
  • Reconcile with social media. Once you have that list, take the time each day to start connecting with people who are in your contacts but aren’t connected with you on social media.
  • Prioritize. Not everyone you know can help you in your current job search. Take the time to go through your list once it is cleaned up to identify categories of people so that you can focus your efforts the right way.

4. FILL UP YOUR CALENDAR

Now that you have your network in order, START using it. This is where most people get stuck and don’t want to do anything. You have to get past that quickly and start talking to people. Use email, phone calls, social media – whatever works best for you. But, start using these tools to reach out and tell your network what’s going on and be clear about how they can help. Consider the following when you tap in to or start working to grow your network:

  • Come with a goal. Walk into every meeting with someone from your network with a clear goal about what you hope to accomplish in the conversation. This will help to avoid the trap of purely networking and help you to walk away with exactly what you want to keep your job search moving forward.
  • Be professional. This may also seem obvious, but not everyone that can help you in your search is someone you know professionally. But, always keep your conversation professional and polite when talking about your professional goals and how someone can help.
  • Ask for help. Don’t forget to ask for what you want when meeting with people in your growing network. This could be the names of other people that can help or help with an application. Whatever it is, the person will not know you need it unless you ask. And, make sure to be specific about what you need so the person understands exactly how they can help.
  • Follow up. Send a short email or text to the person to say thank you for the meeting within 24 hours of the interaction. People appreciate the gesture and continuing to periodically reach out will help you to keep that relationship fresh throughout your search.

5. KEEP TRACK OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING

There will be a flurry of activity in the first few weeks after you separate from your last employer. But, a job search over the age of 40 can take months in any talent market. Starting that search off by tracking everything you do, the insights that are shared, the people you meet with, and the applications you submit will help tremendously as your search continues. To start logging your efforts the right way, consider the following:

  • Company target list. Create a short list of companies that seem really interesting and you would love to work at next. This will help you to prioritize your networking as well as to set-up the right job notifications. Keep updating this list throughout your search to keep yourself on track.
  • Application tracking. Employers do it for many reasons including monitoring the history of interactions with a candidate. So, make sure to keep track of where you apply, the job title, date, and the description. This will help you to more effectively follow-up on applications and to redirect your efforts when things aren’t going as planned.
  • Networking. Job searches are long and most people’s memories are not. Keeping a log of who you meet with and when will help you to follow-up with those people periodically at regular intervals so that they remember that you are still looking.

No job search is easy when you are laid-off. The good news is that most employers know that it happens to even the best employees. So, they really want to know how you are dealing with it and if you are a good fit for their organization. And, by focusing your efforts early in the process by tackling the 5 items above you will gain the confidence (and skills) you need to tackle your job search when you are over the age of 40.

Want some help to get your search off on the right foot? The trusted Contingent Plan career advisers have helped many people over the age of 40 find their next role. Submit your old resume for a quick quote below and we’ll give you real insight on how we can help. Kick start your search today!

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With years of experience in the job acquisition field, Kathy has delivered exceptional service by providing in-depth knowledge about recruiting qualified employees, and crafting the perfect resume. The Contingent Plan comprises a team of expert recruiters, resume writers, and outplacement experts—all ready to help you! Read Kathy’s blogs, and discover simple tricks and tips to help you land the job of your dreams.