Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thoughts On Being 50-Plus in a Job Search

Thoughts on Being 50-Plus and Still Active

As an executive coach (ex-Right Management Sr. Executive Program Director), headhunter (seven years as a partner at LGES in San Francisco), and a twenty-five year plus career as a marketing executive at Citibank, Ampex, FCB and Saatchi (New York and San Francisco), the issue of age has always been of special interest to me. What I believe regarding being 50-plus and still "active in the market":

1. Do not hide the fact of your age; leverage it by seeking situations (full-time employment or consulting) that "reward" sagacity. Don?t pursue situations which appear to penalize age; there are many companies who need experience and realize it. Seek them out. (Recruiters will become much less useful in your post-50 career search; learn to target companies on our own through research and networking).

2. Do not lead with a resume; lead with a one-page biography. You are no longer a young, untested executive needing a resume to list your work history; you are an accomplished executive whose story should be very appealing to well-targeted recipients. Use a brief cover letter (why you are writing to them, three key aspects of your candidacy that you believe should be of value to them and their current business activities/goals, and a promise to follow up in the next week or so).

3. Target no more than 20 companies within a reasonable commute of your home and learn everything you can about them. Use that knowledge to gain entry to the target companies. Focus on key executives and members of the board (who may not receive many queries but actually run many aspects of the company).

4. Ensure that your references are willing to be called, fully informed of the specific search you are involved in, thoroughly versed on your background and achievements (people forget things), and are good on the telephone. Weak or unprofessional references can be disastrous to your candidacy.

5. In general, act like a grown-up and leverage your sagacity and years of valuable experience. Don't apologize, and don't work for less money. Finally, I believe that post-50 year olds should be looking for WORK, not a job. Ferret out companies who might need exactly what you can provide. Job postings are often very bland and unspecific. Companies need WORK done for them. Attempt to talk with companies about work you can do; it may well turn into a FT job or attractive consulting engagement.

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