If you are one of the throngs of post 50 job-seekers who's turned to the Internet to land your next position, you're probably reaping some rather lackluster results. Although the biggest challenge mature applicants likely face is the perception they're technically challenged, technology is not always the answer -- especially when it comes to finding work.
Most job-seekers spend hours on the computer researching job boards and company websites. They submit their resume online, wait for a response, and are usually rewarded for their efforts with a perfunctory reply at best. In their rush to adopt a technical approach to finding a job, these hopeful applicants can actually be setting themselves up for months -- maybe years -- of discouraging results.
Indeed, submitting resumes online guarantees your competition levels will be high. Your resume, moreover, will need to make it past the applicant tracking systems most companies now employ where it will be screened in or out by the skills and keywords you've listed. And even more telling, unless your accomplishments are exemplary, you can't begin to compete with candidates who know someone in the firm and come with a personal referral.
So, if you're a savvy candidate who wishes to land your next position within weeks rather than months or years, you'll want to consider turning back the hands of time and thinking old school. Here are three ways tried and true is generally the fastest route to a new job.
Think relationships. There's no doubt about it, people get people jobs -- so you'll want to return to the personal touch. The vast majority of your efforts should be in contacting anyone and everyone in your network. Let them know what you're looking to do, the companies you're targeting, and ask for information and referrals.
Studies show that fewer than 15 percent of jobs are obtained through online methods; therefore you'll want to spend no more than 15 percent of your time pursuing the postings. Rather, center your efforts on your network of friends and associates. A minimum of 75 percent of positions are gotten through networking, so you'll be well rewarded for focusing the bulk of your time on people.
Use good old-fashioned courtesy. All of your networking efforts will be for naught if you don't follow-through in a courteous and professional manner. If someone provides a referral, be certain you follow-up and connect with that person. Your contacts will often alert their friends to expect an e-mail or a phone call from you. If you don't follow-through, it's not only impolite, it will leave both your friend and his or her contact with a bad impression of your commitment and your professionalism.
Put your nose to the grindstone and get to work. No one said a job search is easy. It takes effort, energy, and single-minded focus to be successful. Most people devote only a few hours per day to their search, thereby ensuring their end-result will take longer to achieve. If, however, you plan to put in a minimum of eight to ten hours per day of concentrated effort, you'll likely be successful in a much faster timeframe.
So when it comes to finding your next position, remember to get back to the basics. Technology can be a useful tool, however you'll want to use it in ways that support the 3 Ps: people, politeness and plenty of hard work. Truth be told, tried and true is often best the best approach to many aspects of life and going old school is likely to be your most direct route to your brand new job.
Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that helps you turn your age into an advantage. Recently updated, it's packed with even more information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools to successfully navigate the modern job market and gain the edge over the competition. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!