My first professional employer post-college decided that they did not need me anymore after almost 28 years with them. They really did not come out and say this to my face but their actions spoke very loudly once I was out the door hitting the pavement. Despite the existence of Federal statutes that prohibit age-based discrimination in employment, many companies apparently take into consideration the much higher net present value of post-retirement benefits, the higher salaries, the greater vacation allocations, and expected health care expenses of long-term employees in comparison to younger hires when terminating the older worker with severance and then closing the door behind them as they leave.
My story is not uncommon. What I learned is this: When you are over 40, and looking for work, answering postings on the Internet and waiting for the phone to ring is a waste of your time. For every job posted online, there are (on average) 400 applications entered. Of these 400, approximately 20 are considered for phone screen interviews. Of those 20, perhaps three are invited to interview, onsite, at the prospective employee’s expense. One of the lucky three may get hired. Older employees are usually dropped at the initial screening process because there’s a perception that they lack the essential technology skills or energy that younger prospects are expected to have. My advice to the older job seeker: Don’t waste your time looking for that next job online. Make some sales calls, instead. Create and use a network. You’re selling a product; pick up that 500# telephone and make some sales calls. Tell everyone that you call that you don’t expect them to have a job for you, but that you would like their help in finding one that fits your skills, knowledge and abilities. Let them ask what those are, and let them decide if they want to buy or recommend you to someone else to talk to. Successful life insurance salespeople are great at this, and also great contacts to use in the job search process.
You are not alone. It happens to many of us. If possible, join up with Seekers, or Priority Two for coaching and motivation. These are good places to establish connections with other job seekers who can work with you to hold yourself accountable in the search. Job hunting is a full-time job that can’t be done from behind a computer screen. You must make the calls.
Eighty percent of jobs found by the 50+ job seekers are found through networking. The rest might be through headhunters. Half of those jobs are created at the time the job seeker contacts the potential employer.
Above all, don’t wait for your unemployment benefits to run out before you start your networking job search campaign.