Overcoming Liabilities: The BOOMER Job Search and the Silver Lining

Here is a question I have been asked repeatedly by my executive Baby Boomer clients: “Can you help me find a job in today’s market… at my age?”

Certainly there is a valid reason for my clients to ask this – after all, we have heard about age discrimination. For some Boomers, there is a real belief that there are “no jobs out there” for them, and that they are being replaced by younger talent, with more relevant skills, at a more attractive salary (for the company).

Just like anything else, there is some truth here, and more in some industries than others. However, what is more important to understand is that in my 17 years of leadership as a recruiter, job search coach and resume writer, I have learned that it is our perception and ability to look at challenges as opportunities to leverage oneself that will move mountains.

High achievers, leaders, and those who seek opportunity where others see only bleakness and failure: these are the people we should look to for inspiration regarding what is possible. I have seen many executives talk themselves out of opportunities; casting one good marketing idea after another aside, because they “have already tried that and it didn’t work,” or they “don’t believe that could work,” or “it won’t work for their industry,” or, or, or… If you have ever been around someone that is in this frame of mind, you will instantly feel exhausted.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There really is a great benefit to training your mind to entertain what is possible, to embrace what is positive, and to recalibrate the way you see, try and understand marketing 101. Any kind of marketing is primarily comprised of “failure.” How you perceive it and are attached to it emotionally has a direct connection to your resolve.

For example, my late friend and mentor, Mark Hovind, who was a retired CEO for an international oil and gas company (in his late 50’s at the time of this story), test drove his theory on direct mail with his management consulting business. He used Google Maps to find 50 companies in Las Vegas who would be a good match for him, printed out 50 letters addressed to the president and 50 maps showing him where to go to physically drop off the letters.

The next day he spent the afternoon driving around these different companies to hand-deliver each letter. He was met with a variety of responses from, “we don’t accept solicitations,” to “the president is right over there – why don’t you hand it to him yourself?”

At the end of the day, Mark secured a $10,000/month consulting job that lasted 12 months.

So, did Mark fail because 49 companies turned him down and “didn’t want him” or did he just make $120k for 4 hours of marketing effort?

I was talking with my friend Kevin Kermes (Career Attraction) yesterday about Boomer job searches. He was sharing how hard it is to see the silver lining sometimes – but how critical it was to find it!

Older workers need to pick out the strengths in them that set them apart. Many Boomers have incredible work ethics, incredible mentoring skills, and they love seeing and helping their teams succeed! This is a very valuable quality in today’s market where you hear of HR departments having to create entirely new programs in order to get the attention of their Gen Y employees. It is common to hear that these employees come with a much greater sense of entitlement and see loyalty to a company as something they have a hard time relating to. It is clear many of them have a different mindset than their Boomer counterparts.

Let me give you several more facts to embrace as you move forward into your job search:

  • Companies are still growing and are still in need of good employees.
  • Companies still have problems that YOU can solve.
  • Millions of jobs are still being advertised every day… the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 85% of six-figure jobs filled in the U.S. each month are not advertised (hint: fish where the fish are!). That represents over 280,000 six-figure jobs in the “hidden job market.”
  • Millions of 50+ people have landed wonderful job opportunities in all market climates.
  • Learning the strategies to penetrate jobs that are not advertised leads to more interviews and bigger offers.
  • A resume that sends the right marketing message will get you interviews, especially in times when companies really have urgent needs.
  • History is heavily laden with scores of successful people rising out of adverse conditions and situations to achieve great things. Reading leadership biographies about successful business people will inspire you – truly.
  • Some of the best opportunities are born out of the most difficult of situations.

Now not all of us are optimists, but these points are based on fact. And another fact is that keeping a focus on the positive is an invaluable effort that will carry you through any job search in any market.

But what if you consider yourself a “critical thinker” or maybe you have been fired or laid off and these points only serve to fuel your anger and frustration?

Then here are two more facts for you:

  • Looking through the lens of critical analysis is dangerously limiting to your job search success.
  • Anger and frustration over a layoff or letting go is normal in ANY job market and needs to be overcome.

No matter what your personality, position or current situation, we all must take responsibility for how we process it and what we do with the information we allow into our hearts and minds.

So, why not look for your next best position right now? Why not decide today that the media is not going to control the way you think and feel? Why not turn off the TV and simply stay focused on the markets that are growing and the plan and strategy that is going to work best for you right now?

There really isn’t ever a perfectly “right time” to do anything. For example, I picked the worst time to start up my business – financially, family-wise, etc. – but my window of opportunity was there and I embraced it, risk and all, and I never looked back.

A friend of mine who coaches C-Level executives through career transitions recently shared with me that most of his clients were holding off until the New Year to take action. That is, except for one. And that one client, he said, was experiencing amazing results and landing multiple interviews.

The choice is yours and the opportunities ARE there!

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

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