Three career strategists recently weighed in on ageism in this post. All three couldn’t deny that ageism exists, but the question is when does this deterrent to employment effect older job seekers? The most obvious of stage in the job search is the interview. This is why older job seekers need ways to combat ageism.
Unlike other career coaches, all my clients are active job seekers, not ones who are gainfully employed and looking to pivot to a new opportunity. It’s a well known fact that some employers erroneously prefer to hire passive job seekers. Ding one against my clients.
Job seekers are seen by some employers as “damaged goods.” Coupled with being an older job seeker, the label “damaged goods” takes on new meaning. It means that their ability to grasp technology isn’t as great, they are slower to perform, they are inflexible, and they get sick more often; all of which isn’t necessarily true. Ding number two.
The average age of my clients is 55. The age disparity isn’t great, probably between 45 and 65. Anyone who’s over 40 is considered an older worker, according to the Department of Labor (DOL), which means their tax bracket is a deterrent for employers. In other words, you expect too much money. Ding number three.
The final hurdle they have to face is the economy which has contributed to their long-term unemployment, being jobless for more than six months. As we all know, the chances of getting a job at this point is very difficult. In the Job Club I run, many attendees have been out of work for longer than a year. Ding number four.
How to do well in the interview
These are four stereotypes employers have of older job seekers. To succeed in the interview, you’ll need to dispel them with the correct verbiage and attitude. You’re skilled and have rich experience. It’s your presentation that matters.
You are actively looking for work
This means you’re hungry for work. No, you’re starving for work. And the good thing about you is that you’re not running from a current employer; you’re running toward this potential employer. You and I know employers should hire you for a number of reasons. Nonetheless, the question will be, “Why did you leave your last job?”
Regardless of the situation, you learned a great deal from your past experience and want to pass it on to this new employer. You acquired skills that will make you the obvious choice for this role, as they closely match the ones required by this employer.
But don’t wait to be asked. Open with, “I’m truly excited about this role, not only from what I’ve gleaned through my research, but also because my experience closely matches your requirements. For example, you need someone who can manage projects that are completed on time and under budget. I’ve done this at my previous two companies….”
You are “damaged goods“
This is ding number two and, quite honestly, offensive to my senses. This is the running belief and needs to be put to rest. In the interview is the ideal time for you to prove they’re capable of getting back in the saddle, that you’re vibrant and as capable, if not more, than younger workers.
Cut the interviewer/s off at the pass. You’re hungry for work and have most of the required skills, so you need to express this with your first impressions and an answer to questions like, “Why did you leave your last position?” You’ll be asked this question to slip you up. Don’t let the interviewer/s do this.
It might be that you were let go for poor performance, conflict with your boss, or some other reason. Own this and say that you learned a great deal from the situation. You’ve had time to reflect and are ready to return to the great employee you were prior to your unfortunate departure. Make this answer short and sweet.
You expect too much money
First of all, you better be or else you’re in the wrong room. There’s no faking this. Be real with yourself and don’t expect to take a job that pays half of what you made in the past. When my clients tell me they’ll settle for 80% of what they made in the past, I tell them they might have a case for accepting the position.
If you’re willing to take less than what you made in your previous role, it’s because you can swing the cut in pay with little or no impact on your life style. Most of the major bills have been paid, such as tuition, mortgage, car payments, etc. You’ll actually be better off by accepting this role because you’re in a better space.
You’ve been out of work for more than six months
Long-term unemployment is a beast. You’re among the age group that is hit hardest by it. According to TradinghEconomics.com, the U.S. unemployment rate is 6% which only counts those who are filing for unemployment. Finding a job not an easy task but not impossible. Ask many of my clients who’ve landed jobs.
When it comes to first impressions, first and foremost enter the room like you own it. Enthusiasm is key here. And you need to maintain it throughout the interview/s. I can tell which ones of my clients get this when I advise them on interviewing and conduct a mock interview with them.
It’s the vibe they give off. They smile, their eyes light up, and their handshake is firm, yet gentle. There’s no hint in their tone that they’ve been out of work for too long than they want. Conversely, I can read the ones who can’t pull off the act like a book. They just haven’t mastered the attitude yet. And for some of them, it takes a while to master and ultimately land.
In the interview you’ll have to demonstrate your ability to perform the job, despite being out of work for more than six months, by answering the job-related questions. This speaks to your knowledge of the position, so make sure you’ve done your research.
In order to succeed in an interview, you’ll need to be prepared to address these stereotypes employers hold against older job seekers. They aren’t insurmountable and have to be handled with the right attitude. My last bit of advice is to not enter the interview thinking you’re going to face ageism. If you do this, the battle is already lost.
When it came to baseball, my dad used to say, “You won’t get a hit if you leave your bat on your shoulder.” This was his way of saying to try. He also said a big league ball player who bats .333 was considered a very good hitter. “That’s 3 hits out of 10, Bob,” he said.
Here’s the thing, you sure as hell won’t get even close to batting .333 in the job search if you don’t try. Here’s the other thing about the job search; you probably won’t nail every land the jobs for which you apply, but that’s okay. If you interview with 9 companies and get 3 job offers, Dad would say that’s a great batting average.
Dad’s advice on trying wasn’t just about baseball. He was a brilliant man and offered advice on academics, but I didn’t heed what he said as much as I should have. That’s neither here nor there. In the job search you need to try, but more importantly you need to be smart in your search.
The best big league hitters know who they’re batting against. They’ve either faced them many times or they watch film. The ones who’ve faced the pitchers before are more likely to succeed because they know when and how well their opponent can throw a curveball; slider; change-up; or worst yet, a knuckle.
Or they could strike out every time because some pitchers own opposing batters.
You know it and the interviewer/s know it come interview time that you haven’t done your researched. You’re asked simple questions like, “What can you tell me about this position,” or “Why do you want to work for out company.”
You struggle to recite even the simplest requirements of the job or the products and services the company offers. It’s embarrassing for you and the interviewer. It’s like when a ball player swings at a pitch in the dirt and walks back to the dugout with his head hung low.
Dad was an excellent baseball coach; my coach, in fact. What made him so great was his strategic mind. Applying online takes a strategic mind. One thing recruiters would say is don’t apply for jobs for which you’re not qualified. It’s a waste of your and their time. This is my first piece of advice.
Not to belabor the point, but if you’re applying for jobs through job boards and company websites, make sure you’ve done your research (first point) and that your resume is tailored to each job and speaks to the employer’s needs.
Perhaps most important is that a tailored resume will show the employer you understand their needs whether it’s reducing costs, improving processes, or other ways your can help the company. You also should prioritize statements by listing the most relevant experience and accomplishments closer to the top of the resume.
When I ask my clients if they enjoy networking, the majority of them are either uncomfortable doing it or downright hate it. Dad’s other advice about baseball is that the season is long. A great hitter might start the season with a .235 average but by the end of the season is hitting .333.
The thing about networking is that it takes time. There’s an amount of relationship building that needs to take place. For example, here’s the way it might go:
First: ask one of your first-degree LinkedIn connections to introduce you to introduce you to one his first-degree connections. If you’re more of the in-person networker, pick up the phone and ask one of your closest contacts to facilitate a phone call with your target contact.
Second: when an introduction is made, begin a light conversation with said person, while also fitting into your experience and the value you bring to companies. Ask the person if they’d like to have a follow-up correspondence and when you should call them.
Third: after a certain number of conversations, ask if your contact would like to meet for coffee providing they feel safe in this current environment. If they don’t, video conferencing is always an option.
Fourth: by this time you and your new contact are on the same page in terms of the mutual value you and they can provide. It’s time to make “the ask” for an informational meeting where you can discuss their company and the role you’re seeking.
Or you might want to indicate through your research that you see the possibility of making a contribution to their company. If the former isn’t possible, always try to leave the conversation with another person with whom you can speak.
Note: it might take more conversations before you’re comfortable making the ask. Some believe it takes 7 points of contact before a relationship is truly established.
Or, networking can be as simple as handing your resume to your neighbor, who hands it to the hiring manager of the department for which you want to work, many talks ensue, you’re interviewed for the job, and you’re hired.
This happened to a customer of mine who told me he hadn’t networked to get the job. I didn’t want to bust his bubble and tell him he had. Networking comes in many shapes and forms.
Prepare for the interview
This leads us back to research and a bit of networking if you can. My dad got me good one time. It was when the Russian national hockey team came to play our hockey teams. Dad bet me five dollars that the Russians would beat the New York Rangers–the first team they met.
When I watched the game and saw the massacre, Dad laughed at me saying he had heard about the victory on the radio before the game was televised. He had done his research…in a way. But this is how you will have a leg up on the competition who, for the most part, won’t do their research.
Practice hard. Great baseball players will practice with the team, of course, but they’ll also practice on their own, taking hundreds of additional at-bats and fielding ground balls. Along with researching the position and company, practice answering the questions you think interviewers will ask.
Another area you’ll need to prep for is your background and other important factors when being interviewed via video. What is an appropriate background, you might wonder? Anything that doesn’t distract the interviewer. A bookshelf or wall with tasteful paintings are fine. Also make sure the lighting is right.
Land the job; do well in the interview
“Teams win when batting, fielding, and most importantly pitching are doing well,” Dad would say. “Teams must have all three.” Dad also said errors will be the downfall of a team. “Mental errors are a killer.”
Try hard to get all in place and don’t make mental errors. This can sum it up when it comes to interviews. This means your interview road started with research. Smart job seekers will do anywhere between four to 10 hours of research.
Let’s touch lightly on first impression. As interviews are being held in person and via video platforms, eye contact is essential. Look at the camera, not the interviewers’ eyes. Smile as much as you can without overdoing it. In other words, don’t come across as fake.
Note: most traditional questions are predictable; you should know the answers for them before arriving at the interview.
Situational questions are a little more difficult, as they make you think of how you would solve a particular situation, such as, “What would you do if two of your employees were having a dispute?” You should answer this one successfully if you’ve read the job ad and know questions about leadership will be asked.
Behavioral-based questions are asked because interviewers believe how you behaved in the past is a true predictor of how you’ll behave in the future. They’re also asked to measure your emotional intelligence.
An example of a behavioral-based question is, “Tell me about a time when you came across two of your employees having a dispute.” See the difference between this and the situational question? To answer this question successfully you must have experienced this situation.
You also have to have your S.T.A.R story ready. Explain the situation, your task in the situation, the actions you took to solve the situation, and the final result/s.
Know the kind of company for which you want to work
Earlier I said batting .330 in the job search and landing only 3 out of 10 jobs for which you apply is pretty damn good. Well, it’s only good if you land the ones you desire.
Go after companies that support your values. Don’t simply apply for jobs that are advertised–that’s reacting. Reach out to the ones for which you want to work, which brings us back to research and networking. Identify those companies and network your way into talking with people in those companies.
Preface: this is not an article that asserts introverts use LinkedIn more than extraverts and vice versa. Nor do I assert introverts are more skilled on this platform.
Whether you’re networking via video platform or in person, at some point LinkedIn can play a huge role in your success. I’ve witnessed this with my clients who have forged relationships with other job seekers, mentors, coaches, people in their target companies, and hiring authorities.
As an introvert, LinkedIn has made networking easier for me. It has helped to form solid relationships, generate business for a side hustle, and been a means to share my expertise. I’ve accomplished this, in a large part, by expressing myself through writing, which comes natural to me.
Introverts prefer writing
LinkedIn is a networking platform that is written-based. Written communication can include sending messages to your connections; writing long posts, including polls; and commenting on what others post. Of course, LinkedIn members can express themselves through video and audio.
Written communication is of great comfort for introverts. My valued connection and extravert, Edythe Richards, is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and EQ trainer, as well as a podcaster. She explains introverts’ preference for writing this way:
“Introverts may prefer writing to speaking because they have ample time to gather their thoughts and edit their words, check and cross-check, before putting them out there into the world. They can also work alone for several hours, which is often harder for extraverted types to do.”
“Even if you’re an introvert who doesn’t write for a living, you probably prefer texting and emailing over big in-person meetings or talking on the phone.
“How can this be? Again according to [Marti Olsen] Laney, writing and speaking use different pathways in the brain. These writing pathways simply seem to flow more fluently and easily for introverts.“
I’m not naive enough to claim introverts own the rights to the written word; that all introverts are great writers and all extraverts are lousy writers. Introverts are not the ruler of the writing hill. Extraverts can write with the best of them. However, introverts are more comfortable writing than speaking.
The voice message feature is pretty cool
I’ve used this feature on LinkedIn’s mobile app only a handful of times, but when I did I planned what I would say and re-recorded a message a few times. Here’s how my botched attempts might go, “Hi Brenda ‘comma’ this is Bob McIntosh ‘period‘ would you like to Zoom with me ‘question mark….'”
The point is voice messaging precludes the need for introverts think on their feet in face-to-face situations. We can do retakes. Small talk isn’t one of our strengths, as it takes thinking on our feet processing our thoughts quickly.
Marti Olsen Laney, The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, mentions in her book that introverts don’t process information as quickly as extraverts. I know, as an introvert, this is hard to stomach.
With writing and voice messaging, we have more time to think about what we need to convey, and this makes networking with our connections easier.
You can reach out to many people with LinkedIn
Are you a LinkedIn Open Networker (L.I.O.N)? If you are, you’ve probably reached your 30,000 connection limit. I don’t admire L.I.O.Ns for this feat, but I don’t dislike them because of it. My point is that you can reach out to and connect with more people than you’ll ever know.
I am not ashamed to say I have a little more than 4,000 connections and that I probably truly know only 150 people (according to Dunbar’s law of 150). I can safely say I am acquainted with 25 percent of them. I can write to a connection to ask if they’d like to start a conversation.
Rarely am I denied a request to engage in a conversation with my desired connections. I also don’t deny a conversation with someone as long as it fits in my schedule. My preferred way to talk is to do it when I’m walking. I call it “walking and talking.”
LinkedIn is great for soft introductions
Have you ever wanted to meet a person who could change your life, or at least help you in a significant way? If I want to meet anyone, my friend Brian Ahearn would gladly introduce me to whomever I’d like to meet.
Other than the fact that I root for the Patriots and he roots for the Steelers, we’ve grown a LinkedIn relationship of trust and liking (one of the six components he talks about when influencing others). This means that if I want to meet one of his connections he would facilitate the introduction, no questions asked.
The same trust and liking I have with Brian applies to more of my connections than I can list. Have I met these people in person? I’ve met Brian in Boston, but there aren’t many LinkedIn connections I can say with whom I’ve “pressed flesh.” This is the power of the soft introduction.
Key point: once you have been introduced to someone, it is on you to follow through to solidify the connection. You might be the one to send an invite to the person to whom you’re introduced or vice versa. In either case, don’t let this new connection sit; build a relationship as discussed next.
LinkedIn encourages relationship building
Reaching out to many people and getting to know them better through soft introductions is at the core of networking on LinkedIn. Did you know that LinkedIn was developed for business as a way for companies to network to develop leads? Job seekers saw LinkedIn as a way to network and develop leads.
This said, leads are leads until they amount to something. I mentioned above that I’ve developed some great relationships on LinkedIn. This wasn’t done overnight, especially with my preference for introversion. Introverts by and large seek deep, intimate relationships, where as extraverts have a friend in every port.
I would love to get together with many of my close connections; however, distance is a deterrent. For example, one of my connections lives in Los Angeles. Another one lives in Maine about a three-hour drive. And a close connection lives in Belgium. These are a few of the thousands of connections I’d like to reach out to. You get the idea; LinkedIn is a global relationship maker.
“After connecting with someone, send a follow-up ‘Thanks for connecting,’ email with some CTA (call to action) – such as scheduling a virtual cup of coffee to learn more about what you each do and how you can support them.”
But we’re not done
I am constantly saying to my clients that to form a bona fide relationship with someone, you need to reach out in a personal way. Phone and Zoom are great ways to communicate, but there’s nothing like meeting someone for a coffee, a beer, or dinner. Networking is at its best when you gather in person.
Unfortunately the pandemic has put the kibosh on most in-person networking in the state in which I live. But pre-pandemic I enjoyed attending networking events to meet up with contacts or speak about LinkedIn to groups. It was great to see them in person and be able to shake their hand.
You’ve set yourself up for in-person meetings by writing to your connections, sharing content on LinkedIn, using LinkedIn’s voice message feature, and asking for soft introductions. These are all acts that introverts find comfortable with. Is LinkedIn the first step in the networking process? I think it is.
Back to Introverts and writing
It would be unkind of me to share what Edythe Richards shared in her message to me regarding the Introvert’s preference for writing:
“I’s may prefer writing to speaking because they have ample time to gather their thoughts and edit their words, check and cross-check, before putting them out there into the world. They can also work alone for several hours, which is often harder for Extraverted types to do.
“Some people – regardless of personality type – may prefer writing due to a real or perceived fear of judgment, social anxiety, or they’re just really good at writing.
“With this said, not all I’s may prefer writing to speaking, and not all E’s may prefer speaking to writing. There are nuances, shades, and blends of what we think of as a typical Extravert or Introvert. It could be situational as well – we may prefer writing to certain people and speaking to other people.
“Take me for example. I’m an Extravert, but I’ve spent years cultivating Introverted qualities. I prefer listening to other people’s stories rather than talking about my own. I cherish my few very close friends. And yes, there are many, many times that I prefer writing to speaking.
“My significant other identifies as a Very Clear Introvert. Though he will surely disagree with me, he is an eloquent speaker. And in true Introvert style, he usually chooses not to speak. But given the choice between speaking and writing, he will choose to speak.”
I won’t deny that ageism exists. I’ve heard of hiring managers who’ve told their recruiters that they don’t want older candidates. Some recruiters demand to see every job you’ve held since 1984. You might have been asked on an application when you graduated from high school.
One of my clients told me as the second question in an interview he was blatantly asked about his age. He shook his head in bewilderment as he told me about this.
Another one of my clients was told in an interview, “We don’t typically hire people your age.” Who the hell is stupid enough to say this as an interviewer? These are two poignant examples of ageism.
There are other examples of ageism that 50+ job seekers experience, which makes me wonder if I were to lose my job, would I experience ageism. After all, I am in the 50+ category. I’m an older worker, but I could become an older job seeker.
While age is just a number — not an indicator of performance, education, productivity or skill — ageism is still widespread in the workplace. It can be experienced by both younger and older workers, but most frequently to those who are 45 and over.
This is the grim reality, especially when we consider that older job seekers comprise the largest population of long-term unemployed, defined as those unemployed for 6 months and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the LTU rate for December 2021 reached a record 45.5%.
But all is not lost. As the pandemic is waning and employers are hiring at a greater rate, the older job seekers are increasingly seeing more opportunities. I see this effect in the Job Club I run at MassHire Lowell Career Center. People who’ve been out of work for more than six months have had multiple interviews and they’re landing.
I asked three of the most revered LinkedIn voices—Marc Miller, Susan Joyce, and Hannah Morgan— their thoughts on older job seekers who are looking for work. They answered five questions that address the struggles and strengths older job seekers possess. (Learn more about these thought leaders at the end of the article.)
Does ageism exist, and if so, where is it most obvious in the job search?
MM: Ageism has existed for a long time. In fact, many older workers practice ageism towards younger workers. This is a problem that goes both ways.
I think the most obvious example of ageism is asking for a range of year of experience, like 5-8 years of experience in digital marketing. Knowing how many years of experience one has is not a qualifier or dis-qualifier for a position.
This is a simple way to filter out older job seekers who have more experience but isn’t relevant on whether they are qualified.
What employers should be looking for is relevant experience and not trying to quantify this by length of time someone has worked in any single discipline.
Another example of ageism is when recessions occur this is the time that employers have to cull out who they think, notice I say think, will not be as valuable in the future. This is why older job seekers traditionally make up the bulk of the Long Term Unemployed (LTU). Employers have determined they will be less valuable in the future and therefore, will not hire them back first when the recession ends.
SJ: Unfortunately, there is no question that ageism exists. Numerous studies have documented and quantified it, noting that discrimination begins when people hit their 40’s.
It is most obvious in a job search after the interview when the job offer is not made to the 40+ job candidate, even after a great job interview.
HM: Yes. Job seekers convey their age and mindset in how they write their resume and LinkedIn profile. From using outdated resume formats to including References Available Upon Request to including all dates of employment to dates on education older than 5 years.
They may not have the most current skills or demonstrate an understanding of current methodologies or trends. During job interviews, older job seekers may come across as arrogant, inflexible or condescending, or unable to relate to younger interviewers.
What is the most obvious stereotype employers have of older job seekers, and why do you think this is?
MM: Employers look at many older job seekers as not up to date with technology and slow to change. Some might say that older seekers can be stuck in their ways.
Is this universally true? Of course not!
I worked for IBM for 22 years through some very exciting innovative times. After I left I worked for 2 extremely innovated and successful tech startups. I am not a model baby boomer but I am no unicorn.
I will readily admit I hate getting on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and regularly engaging to promote my “personal brand.” I was raised to work hard, keep my nose to the grind stone, do what is right and I will be rewarded. The world today is counter intuitive to the way I was raised. It is in this way that I am not terribly unusual.
All of this frames how employers see older job seekers on a macro scale. Unfortunately, hiring is very personal and if an employer believes an older job seeker is A, B or C then they will filter out some of the best candidates.
SJ: The most obvious stereotype I encounter is that older job seekers are less up-to-date with technology. Employers probably make these assumptions based on the behavior of an older relative or an older colleague or manager who was not up-to-date.
The best way to overcome this assumption is to have a complete and robust LinkedIn profile plus relevant professional activity on LinkedIn (posts, comments, and articles) that display both current knowledge and communications skills. This visibility and activity will demonstrate their understanding of how important LinkedIn is and how to use LinkedIn effectively (up-to-date!).
If possible, take a LinkedIn Skill Quiz for one or more of the skills in the Skills & Endorsements section of the profile (perhaps the Skills with the fewest endorsements). Or take some of classes that result in professional certifications relevant to the job seeker’s target job.
HM: That their skills and knowledge are not up-to-date and they will be slow or hesitant to adapt or change. Older job seekers may not address the changes they’ve recently had to adapt to or may not have needed to use new technology or update skills in their last roles.
This doesn’t mean they can’t adapt or aren’t interested in learning. Stereotypes exist because of someone’s previous interactions. So if an interviewer or hiring manager has spoken to or worked with an older job seeker who lacked current skills or was hesitant to change, that cements the stereotype.
What is one major strength older job seekers demonstrate, and why do you think this is?
MM: The one thing that an older job seeker has is years and years of experience. I like to think of this as 30-40 years of big data.
We have seen a lot of problems, and solved a lot of problems.
Years ago I developed and taught a problem determination workshop for IBM’s support staff. The more problems you experienced in any given domain enhanced your ability to solve the next problem in the same or adjacent domain. My job was to help them experience and solve as many problems as possible AND understand how they did it.
The issue is our ability to use that database of knowledge called experience and then being able to communicate in a coherent, easy to understand way so that employers see the value.
Remember it was not that long ago that CEO of Facebook said “I want to stress the importance of being young and technical. Young people are just smarter.”
What they do not have is that database of big data that comes from experience.
SJ: Contrary to the “set-in-their-ways” assumption, I think that older job seekers have more options available based on having more experience. Because of their age and experience, they have a bigger “window on the world” and can see more alternatives than someone with less experience.
For example: If you need someone to drive you to the airport in a busy city at a busy time with the flight leaving soon, would you prefer a young driver who followed the route given him by his boss or an older experienced driver who knew all of the short cuts and alternate ways to get to the airport even if a traffic jam on the primary route stopped other traffic? Not hard to conclude the older driver would be a better choice!
HM: Older job seekers tend to be more loyal, possess a stronger work ethic, and have stronger leadership and decision-making skills from experience and training. Their work ethic was formed early in their career when hard work and dedication was rewarded. And their life experience and access to training over their career have given them tools and experience to draw upon.
How can older job seekers improve their written and verbal communications in order to land a job?
MM: This is all about doing new things before you are ready.
To quote one of my favorite and irreverent journalist Hunter S. Thompson,
“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.
When you do something for the first time you will rarely do it right!
I have helped many start blogs and podcasts. I always tell them that what they produce may suck at the beginning. You will have to exercise the communications muscle to find your voice. That may mean producing material that is not very good.
Early blog posts on the Career Pivot blog were pretty bad. That is why I hired people to help me in areas where I was not very good. I am not a good writer but I have learned how to leverage people, like a virtual assistant, who edits my material, and technology like Grammarly.
Over time the communications muscle has gotten stronger through repetitive action. However, this requires taking chances, taking some criticism and admitting that you do not know how to do everything.
You have to move forward and do new things before you are ready.
SJ: Observe what people are writing and saying in social media and elsewhere. Focus on those people who are the most successful (in a positive way). Then, practice, VERY carefully by asking and answering questions on sites like Quora, Reddit, Digg, etc. When ready, start a blog or write articles on LinkedIn (relevant and professionally), Medium, or a personal/professional blog.
For verbal communications, join Toastmasters. The meetings may be virtual now, but the training, experience, and network are invaluable.
Possibly, take some classes in writing and speaking. Free classes are frequently available online. Or read some good books about those topics.
The act of being active on social media also shows a willingness to embrace new technology.
What advice would you give an older job seeker who’s hunting for a job?
MM: In post-pandemic recovery, every older job seeker needs to reassess what he or she really wants to do. This is not about what you used to do because what you used to do may be gone or changed significantly.
Did you actually enjoy doing what you used to do?
If you did, what was enjoyable?
If not why were you doing it?
You really need to look at the disruption that COVID-19 pandemic has created. There will be a lot of good that will come out of this black elephant event called the COVID-19 pandemic. Where do you want to fit in?
What problems do you want to solve? Who has those problems?
If you are going to continue to work because you either have to or want to, you will have to reassess where you fit in this new world and what will energize you to keep moving forward at the same time.
To quote the famous executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here, won’t get you there”.
Your first choice, are you willing to evolve and grow in the 2nd half of life.
Then it is your choice how to evolve and grow.
SJ: I have 2 pieces of advice for older job seekers who are job hunting now.
Know the job wanted next and, preferably, at least 10 or 20 target employers. Being an either-this-or-that does not work today when LinkedIn profiles are so visible! Recruiters avoid someone who doesn’t seem to be really interested in the job they are trying to fill. And an either-or candidate looks undecided.
In addition, the undecided job seeker does not usually effectively demonstrate their professional expertise in both kinds of jobs. Their LinkedIn profiles are “watered down” because they cover multiple topics superficially—not very convincing and not including a sufficient quantity of the right keywords to be found easily by recruiters.
Reaching out and reconnecting to people from the past using Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. to find current location and contact information is a great start.
My favorite tools are LinkedIn Company pages for the target employers and the School pages for the colleges, universities, and other schools the job seeker attended. To find them, just click on the logos beside the employer and school names in the LinkedIn profile.
■ Company pages for target employers provide excellent information about employees. What they do, where they work, where they went to school, and how the job seeker may be connected to them. Click on the “See all people highlights” to find those details.
■ School pages for colleges and schools the job seeker attended provide information about where alumni work, where they live, what they do, and how the job seeker may be connected to them. Again, click on the “See all people highlights” to find those details.
The biggest benefit of being an older job seeker is that great network that provides an inside track to a new job.
HM: Before launching a job search, evaluate the marketplace to understand the skills required at the level you are interested in as well as understand pay ranges for those types of job. You should review lots of job postings to look for technology and skills frequently mentioned. Also ask for honest feedback from people you talk with about what you may be lacking or how you communicate. Finally, maintain a life-long-learner mindset.
Marc Milleris a champion of older job seekers. He writes of his award winning podcast: “Repurpose Your Career, brought to you by Career Pivot, is a podcast for those of us in the 2nd half of life to come together to discuss how to repurpose our careers for the 21st century.” Marc has dedicated his life’s work to helping Baby boomers.
Susan Joyce’s well-known Job-Hunt.org blog has millions of views and is considered one of the most popular sites for the job search. Since 1993, Job-Hunt.org’s genuine experts have shared advice that helps job seekers shorten their job search, including advice on resumes, job interviews, LinkedIn, Working from Home, and much more.
Hannah Morgan’s blog, CareerSherpa.net has gained great acclaim as one of the best job-search blogs out there. Hannah has written for major online publications like BusinessInsider.com, USAToday.com, Money.com, Forbes.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and others. Hannah is truly considered an influencer on LinkedIn.
Raise your hand if you visit a LinkedIn user’s profile and get as far as the Recommendations section. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t. Rarely do most LinkedIn members travel that far down another member’s LinkedIn profile. I usually don’t.
Now raise your hand if you feel the recommendations you proudly tout on your profile are helpful or essential to your business. I don’t blame you if this request gives you pause. After all, the Recommendations section is anchored in the basement of your profile. It’s likely that even you have forgotten about this section. We tend to forget what we don’t see.
There was a time when Recommendations was one of the most valued sections on the profile. That time was so long ago that I can’t remember when this was the case. My LinkedIn historian, Kevin Turner, reminded me of when Recommendations were banished to the cellar of our profile, and we lost our ability to move all our sections about:
“Recommendations were banished to the bottom of the profile around 04.07.2018 when the New Look was established. Around ~03.2017 we lost the ability to reorder, having the corresponding [recommendations] under each job, and the ability to pull it to the top of the profile.”
I believe there is a segment of the LinkedIn community who still believes in the value of Recommendations, particularly business folks who use them as testimonials. I recall some of my connections who would move their recommendations to below Summary—as it was called then—to highlight the excellent services they provided.
But I also believe recommendations on a job seeker’s profile is also of great benefit. Think about how some hiring authorities might be more interested in a candidate’s recommendations and not so interested in their skills and endorsements. Reading some stellar recommendations could lead to a telephone call and subsequent conversations.
So, how do you direct visitors to your Recommendations section? I put forth three solutions.
First solution: mention Recommendations in your About section
Given that your About section draws the attention of visitors, doesn’t it make sense to point your audience to Recommendations within this section? Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the ability to post links to Recommendations—similar to the links to our Current Employer and Education—so words will have to do.
Matt Warzel has this simple statement in his About section: “I’ve earned 740+ LinkedIn recommendations.”
Or you might want to give your visitors a taste of your recommendations by including a few excerpts from them. This is how I do it:
𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗠𝗬 𝗖𝗟𝗜𝗘𝗡𝗧𝗦 𝗦𝗔𝗬 𝗔𝗕𝗢𝗨𝗧 𝗠𝗘 (𝗘𝗫𝗖𝗘𝗥𝗣𝗧𝗦 𝗙𝗥𝗢𝗠 MY 𝗥𝗘𝗖𝗢𝗠𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗗𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗢𝗡𝗦)
“Bob’s expertise regarding LinkedIn is second to none. He is always looking for ways to leverage the platform for the benefit of his clients and his approachable style makes it easy to work with him and understand what he is saying.”
“Bob is the real deal. With his consistently published articles, super actionable tips and daily dose of inspiration here on LinkedIn, Bob is really the King of all Things Career Related. He made an appearance on my weekly live broadcast a few months ago, and the audience loved him. No surprise why.”
There are two other excerpts from some of my recommendations I list in About . Following the excerpts, I direct visitors to my Recommendations section by writing: “⬇️ 𝐈𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬? 𝐒𝐜𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐨𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐥𝐞 ⬇️”
Second solution: point visitors to your recommendations in Experience
If you want to include excerpts from your current or previous positions, they’ll make a splash as worthy accomplishments. As I tell my clients, “What others say about you weighs heavier than what you say about yourself.”
“Susan took our marketing department to greater heights with her advanced knowledge of product marketing. She and her team increased revenue over the course of 10 years to the tune of $400 million dollars.“
You can point your visitors to your Recommendations section in the same manner you use in About. Susan’s excerpt can be followed with: “To read additional testimonials, visit my Recommendations section.” Again, it would be nice to have a link bringing your visitors to recommendations.
Third solution: point people to your recommendations in Volunteer Experience
By this point, your visitors have traversed a great distance on your profile, but why not direct them here as well? I will read a person’s Volunteer Experience section if I want to know more about the work they’ve done. And yes, volunteer work is experience.
Again, the process is the same as it is in your About and Experience sections. Take another example of someone who has volunteered to perform duties for his alma mater:
“Jason put in endless hours developing the University of Massachusetts license plate initiative which has exceeded expectations by 30,000 participants. There are hundreds of thousands of cars donning UMass license plates. This is special.”
Jason writes: “To the full recommendation from the director of Alumni, scroll down to my Recommendation section. Can a say it again? It would be nice to have a link to Recommendations.
It’s unfortunate that you can’t move your Recommendations section to the top of your profile — like you could on your resume—or LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to link to it. For some people like Matt Warzel, he displays hundreds of recommendations to prove his work. I wonder if he would want to reorder his Recommendations section.
Most job-search articles, posts, videos, and podcasts offer tips on how to succeed in various components of the job search. This article is different. Different because it’s based on the failures of my job search. I’m writing it because I believe one can learn from the successes, as well as the failures of others.
Since my failure of a job search in 2003, I’ve coached thousands on how to do it properly. In a few situations, I was successful in hunting for other jobs because I practiced what I preach. This article’s purpose is to tell readers not to do what I did.
My story begins when I was laid off from marketing, where I was unhappy. My unhappiness wasn’t due to the people with whom I worked; it was due to a lack of purpose. I was peddling software I didn’t believe in.
Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, claims that purpose is a key motivator. He’s correct. I saw my purpose as helping people land jobs, not marketing document storage media.
After being laid off, it took me seven months to land a job which was a gap filler at best. Looking back on it, I can see clearly what I could have done to make the journey shorter for me and my family. Here are my failures.
The beginning of unemployment wasn’t too bad, but it became worse
When I was laid off, I wasn’t devastated; it was more like I was relieved. I was called into a conference room where my boss and our “HR” person was sitting with papers spread out on the table. “This isn’t good,” I thought. Sure enough, I was getting laid off.
My boss, who happened to also own the company, was weepy-eyed, a little upset, and constantly apologizing for having to lay me off. During the meeting I was the one who was consoling him, not the other way around. “George,” I said, “It’s business, nothing personal. I’ll be alright.” He seemed relieved to hear me say this.
I found comfort in getting together with a former colleague, who had been laid off with me, by drinking beer at a pub down the road from where I live. Our times of commiserating became increasingly more frequent; so frequent that I had to call a halt to it. I realized that it was destructive behavior.
Two months after I was laid off it became apparent to us that we needed more than what Unemployment Assistance was providing, $565 which included allowance for three dependents, and that using credit cards was not the best option
My wife had to return to work full-time at a nearby town. Now raising the kids became my full-time responsibility. This wasn’t a bad thing necessarily; it was unfamiliar territory for me. I now had to tend to their every needs. Our oldest daughter was 7, followed by our 4-year-old daughter, and the baby boy was 1.
Looking back on it, I was grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with our kids.
Quality time included bringing the two youngest to play group while the oldest was at grade school. I was also responsible for driving the kids to their locations and grocery shopping. In all instances I was the only male present, which was embarrassing. I once witnessed a woman at playgroup breastfeeding two children at once.
I felt trapped at home while my wife was doing what I wanted to; she insisted she didn’t want to work full-time, but she was growing happier with “real” responsibilities as I was growing miserable with unfamiliar responsibilities. Was I jealous of my wife? Yes.
My temper grew increasingly moodier and at times angry. I lashed out at my wife who was only doing what had to be done. There came a time when she demanded that I see a therapist. I agreed and met once a week with a kind gentleman with whom I couldn’t relate.
If there was one thing I could have done better, it was not turning into an asshole.
My time management skills sucked
To say raising the kids impeded my job search would be an excuse. The second failure that comes to mind was the inability to schedule job-search activities around caring for the kids. I could have risen early in the morning to job search and continue the process when my wife got home from work.
When I had some free time away from the kids, I could have done some administrative work, e.g., written resumes and cover letters. But my mind was consumed with making sure the kids were fed and entertained.
Instead of using the evenings to call people who I could have met while networking I walked the streets of my city for hours. I had to clear my head of the frustration that was building inside me. I often tell my clients that walking is good medicine, but in my case it was a way to escape the family.
One of the good things that came from being home with the kids was creating a website and maintaining it for my oldest daughter’s school. I asked the director if she would allow my child to attend school free of charge in exchange for the website. Apparently she didn’t know how easy it would be, because she happily agreed.
I didn’t network
I said I should have contacted people I met while networking, but the sad fact is that I didn’t network as much as I should have. The extent of my networking was sending a group email to everyone I knew, letting them know I was out of work and attaching my resume to the emails.
This method was ineffective, as I hadn’t clearly indicate what kind of work I was looking for. My resume was sound but not targeted to the career I was pursuing, career development. This explains why group emails are not the best way to network.
What I should have done was reach out to people individually and asked to meet for coffee or simply have a phone conversation. I should have asked for advice on where I could pursue positions in career development. I should have gathered information on the labor market by talking with said people.
Who did they know that I didn’t? Who would they suggest I talk with? One of my contacts might know people in the nonprofit world, perhaps in a municipality. That could have led to connecting with people in social services. I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how to ask for information.
Networking groups? I had no idea what they were and that they even existed. I hadn’t visited my university’s career services, where they would have told me about job seeker networking groups. Perhaps they would have mentioned professional associations. When it came to networking, I was totally in the dark.
The bottom line: I should have been more proactive
To preface, the first job I landed in marketing was through a referral from my university professor. The second position was an interesting story. Briefly, I was laid off from my first job in marketing. The same day my president introduced me to the marketing manager of the second company for which I started that day.
These jobs were essentially handed to me. This time around I didn’t have help like this.
I sent close to 40 resumes and cover letters for jobs which resulted in two interviews. Even in 2003, the way to land interviews for rewarding jobs was not to send a generic resume and a tailored cover letter to employers, especially if you weren’t qualified for said jobs.
The shotgun approach wasn’t working. I became increasingly more discouraged. The one thing I had going for me was knowing what I wanted to do, as well as what I didn’t want to do. (To the chagrin of my wife, I wasn’t applying for marketing positions.)
This must have made employers wonder why a marketing guy wanted to work in career development. Had I asked for informational meetings I would have built a more focused network. My one attempt at asking for an informational meeting was a complete failure.
I only landed two interviews and one job
The first interview after my marketing career ended was as painful as it could get. It was for a Development position at my alma mater. I was ill prepared and insulted one of the interviewers by asking her why she was on the interview panel. To my defense, I phrased my question wrong, but the damage was done.
My second interview was the winner…in a way. I landed a job that was a two-year gap filler as a program manager for technical training for people with disabilities. There were enjoyable aspects of the position, but I was yearning to get more entrenched in career development.
The most important skill I developed in this program manager position was the ability to speak in front of groups of people, explaining the purpose of the program. It was during one of the speaking engagements that I employed my networking skills. I presented to my current employer directing my attention to my future manager.
Whether directing my attention to my future manager was the reason I landed the job is debatable, but it certainly was intentional. The interview had with her was a formality because it lasted 15 minutes. Half an hour after the interview she called to tell me she was forwarding my name to the city manager.
My suggestion to people who’ve lost their job for any reason is first, think about the others around you who are probably struggling as well. I should have been more cognizant of my wife’s feelings; rather than thinking only of mine.
Second, don’t let caring for children or elderly adults be an excuse for not getting things done. I had a client who said he would rise at 5:00 am to conduct his job search until his children would rise at 7:00 am. He would grab any moment he could during the day, including attending my Job Club in the afternoon.
Third, be more proactive in your job search. Simply sending out resumes won’t do it. Implement networking into your routine and follow up with those you network with. Again, the resume shotgun approach will not yield great results.
Lastly, anyone you run into can be a potential boss. Do your best to impress people who have the authority to hire you, like the person who became my boss after my presentation.
One more: don’t be an asshole during your job search.
A woman I work with whispered to me that one of her customers wrote her an email complimenting her on a job well done. I congratulated her on her accomplishment and told her to forward the email to our boss.
“No way,” my colleague said. “I don’t need to show her what I’ve done. She knows.”
I argued my case for a brief moment and then realized that convincing my colleague to promote herself was a lost cause. She’s just not that kind of person. She would rather have people see her great work—she does great work—than point it out to them. She doesn’t like to “brag,” in her words.
If you’re like my colleague and don’t feel it’s necessary to promote yourself, consider the following points.
The philosophical question
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” comes to mind in the instance of my colleague. I reason if your boss isn’t around to hear or read of your accomplishments, she won’t hear it; there will be no sound. All the good work you’ve done may go unnoticed and unrewarded.
Bring your boss into the forest so she can hear the tree fall. You don’t need to burst into her room exclaiming, “My customer loved the work I did implementing our CRM software. He couldn’t stop praising me. I’ll need the rest of the day off to celebrate.”
It’s okay to promote yourself in a tactful way
The wrong way to self-promote would be to announce during a meeting that your customer said you’re the best thing since sliced bread. This will cause your colleagues to turn to each other and mouth, “What a braggart.”
The correct way would be catching your boss alone and making her aware of the flattering email you received, without going into detail ad nauseam. If you are more introverted, forwarding the email to your boss would be fine. (It also creates a paper trail for future recall.)
If you don’t promote yourself no one will
Do you think your colleagues who are eyeing a promotion that is suitable for both of you is going to promote your greatness instead of his? Hell no. Additionally, he might make it clear that he is the best person for the job by touting his accomplishments any time he can (even when it’s not warranted).
You are the captain of your ship, so don’t let anyone else steer it. By no means am I saying to look for opportunities to self-promote. No, promote yourself when the time warrants it.
Your chances of advancing at work will be greater if you promote yourself
My colleaguebelieves her results speak louder than words, and this may be true; but the spoken word can better reinforce her results than if she were to say nothing…or not send an email.
Advancement comes to those whose performance are recognized. When it comes to performance reviews or approaching your boss for a raise or promotion, she will most likely remember the times you told her about your accomplishments. In fact, she might have written them down.
You will feel good
Especially if you receive positive feedback from your superior. I know this because when I promote myself, via email mostly, I receive an email from her congratulating me for my success. I could care less if she is annoyed by my self-promotion.
If my boss tells me to stop, I’ll cease promoting myself. But I’ve never been told to stop sending her emails or telling her about my success, nor do I expect her to cease my self-promotion. If or when I do, I’ll simply tell her, “I’m practicing what I preach.”
You may feel the same way my colleague does about self-promotion. But ask yourself this: “Will I kick myself for not at least forwarding an email to my boss? Is it possible that she would appreciate knowing about my accomplishment?”
If the answer to these questions is yes, promote yourself in a way you’re comfortable with.
One Facebook announcement tells me a friend is eating dinner in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Another announcement let’s me know that a friend is taking a cruise from Seattle to Alaska and back. And one more shows how a friend is using his pressure cooker to cook baby-back ribs. Yum.
This is all nice and good. After all, Facebook is a true social media site, where people share their personal life; maybe too personal. Every once in awhile you’ll come across political and religious musings which might offend your senses. But if you understand the purpose of Facebook, you won’t be too offended.
According to the Guardian.com, “Facebook was developed back in “February 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg launched ‘The facebook,’ as it was originally known; the name taken from the sheets of paper distributed to freshmen, profiling students and staff.
Then it took off from there, enticing people from all over the globe to sign up for this free platform, where they could tell their stories, play games, donate to charities, record videos, and many other activities too numerous to mention here.
Ironically, very few people (who I know of) don’t use Facebook to announce they’re looking for work. “Ironically,” I say because who can be some of your strongest allies than your friends? A friend tells me he needs to find a job, I do my best to keep my ears to the pavement for him.
LinkedIn is where 78%-90% recruiters look for talent, but…
We all know that recruiters hang out on LinkedIn to find talent. Many of them will tell you that it’s their go-to source for finding talent, but a recent Jobvite study found that 60% of recruiters also use Facebook to find talent.
Still, we associate LinkedIn as the “professional network,” where business and the job search are conducted. Tis true but would it hurt job seekers to employ both, cover all bases?
In a long-post I wrote, I mentioned a conversation Hannah Morgan and I had in which we agreed that Facebook and LinkedIn would be great platforms to announce job seekers are looking for work. Why not use both? To use Facebook, you need to do it correctly. Here are six pointers.
How to use Facebook to announce you’re looking for work
1. Post a friendly, upbeat message. This doesn’t have to be a novel. Remember that people like to read concise informative word blocks. You might want to begin your message with something like: “Hi friends and family! I’m currently in transition and looking for my next great opportunity.”
2. Tell your friends the type of work your pursuing. It’s important to be clear on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something in project management but your friends misconstrue your message and think you’re pursuing program management jobs, they’ll be of little help.
3. Provide some brief, recent accomplishments so connections and friends can spread around. Because you’re addressing friends, you don’t want to come across as bragging, but you also don’t want to let opportunities to slip away because your friends don’t know how great you are.
4. Reiterate your appreciation for help in advance. These are one of the things you learned in kindergarten, right. Thank people for their help.
5. List your LinkedIn URL in the message. Some of your friends might not know you’re on LinkedIn. Hell, they might not even know what LinkedIn is.
6. End by asking them to be safe. In these times, it only makes sense to show gratitude, as well as concern.
The old saying that everyone can be a part of your network is true. Remember that friends, relatives, and associates can be your strongest allies. Even if they’re not in your industry, they might hear of opportunities you’re not aware of.
Another option is to send a direct message (DM) to your Facebook friends. A close friend who commented on my post suggested this approach rather than sharing a blanket post.
Let’s look at some reasons why Facebook might be a better platform to use when announcing you’re looking for a new job.
Reach out to recruiters on Facebook
Go where the recruiters hang out. Recruiters Online has more than 20,000 members. This group is strictly for recruiters, states group administrator Mike Kelemen; so, if you want to find recruiters to approach, go where they graze.
But make sure you have you deliver a strong message when approaching a recruiter on Facebook. Of course it will start with a friendly introduction, but the gist of your message needs to highlight your top skills and relevant accomplishments. Bottom line, recruiters don’t have a lot of time to waste on a weak intro.
While some recruiters might not consider Facebook to be a pool of talented job seekers, there are plenty who do. Recruiters have one goal in mind, and that is to fill positions. So, if they are presented with an opportunity to present a quality candidate to their employer, they’ll take it.
Recruiter David M. Marr keeps an open mind: “Facebook groups are way more active and useful now than LI Groups are. You can post jobs on Facebook now. You can search inside Facebook and XRay Facebook for Talent.
“Their jobs and skills section are not as advanced as LinkedIn, but considering they have 2.3 Billion users globally and the global population is 7.7 Billion, and you compare that against LI’s 200+ Million profiles. It’s really a no brainer based upon the data alone.
“That and EVERY recruiter is sourcing for the same talent from this channel and it’s over saturated. If you want to find new talent that your competitors aren’t, take the time to source from Facebook.
“You can even message someone not in your network. And you have the personal touch of actually getting to know about them as a person vs a professional Profile on LI.
“I cross reference against all of their social media profiles I can find and try to craft a customized email template with at least 3, but ideally 7 touch points that shows I read their profile. Videos and Gifs and humor work great.”
What others say about announcing you’re looking for work on FB
Emily Lawson: One thing to keep in mind with your Facebook community is to communicate level, industry and types of companies to help your network zero in on what’s ideal. Many of those connections are not familiar with your career history or LinkedIn profile.
If I was looking for HR work, and shared it with my Facebook network, I’d likely get all kinds of responses since I’ve lived in many different areas and have friends all over. Here’s an example: “I’m looking for a senior level HR Manager or HR Business Partner role in the technology or medical industry. Preferably, within a mid to large company with an established positive culture. It may seem like a lot up front, but it would actually save them time so they don’t share information that isn’t the right fit.
I think a more tailored approach would work better. There are likely many job seekers who could say the exact same thing. The key to differentiating yourself as a candidate is to focus in on value and alignment. For example… If the message is regarding an existing opening, I would focus on your value and how it relates to that specific role.
I would highlight experience based on major requirements from the job description. If the message is regarding your interest in working at that specific company, then I would focus on alignment with their values or culture.
I would expand on “why” and what’s driving your interest. Both provide great storytelling opportunity that holds far more interest and relevancy for a reader who needs to build confidence in your ability to provide solutions and fit where they need it most.
Paula Christensen: Years ago when I changed industries I found that my Facebook friends were my biggest supporters. In some instances, these people knew me the longest and trusted me immediately because of that tenure and my reputation in previous jobs.
Sarah Johnston: I’ve relocated a number of times for my husband’s job. I’ve posted an update on FB every time letting my friends and acquaintances know about my relocation. My FB community never disappoints me. I’ve made many real connections through friends of friends… online social networking sites were designed to help you stay in touch with more people and are great for building “friend of friend” connections
Jayne Mattson:If you are want to broadcast, then do it with 2 things in mind, which are giving and receiving. In the broadcast ask 3 even 5 questions or advice that will help you in your search. More than likely you will get responses with information that will benefit you. Telling people you are in the market could lead you to advertised jobs and maybe ones that aren’t posted. However, I believe it is unlikely. Now the major part of your message, thank everyone in advance and with a “please do not hesitate to reach out to me for help if there is information you are seeking.”
Erin Hutchinson: I tell people that the more they can get their brand/value across in the message, the better chance they are of having a friend/connection reach out to help! As a workforce professional, I even hate it when people ask me to help them find a job, but have no direction or understanding of what they bring to the table! Help me help you!
Jean Avery: I’d add: if there’s a specific company of interest, it’s worth mentioning. “I’m looking for a data analyst role, and would love a connection at Salesforce or Amazon here in Seattle.” This is a good way for people who don’t have a lead to help, by tagging friends at a specific organization. If it’s not clear, I’d mention whether it’s a local or national search (or clarify onsite vs. remote work). I also explicitly say ‘comment or message me’ so people are less intimidated to follow up with a general question or inquiry/lead.
Read what others have to say in the long post that inspired this article.
I’ve written or critiqued hundreds of LinkedIn profiles in my role as a career coach. Whether this impresses you matters not. I only mention this to let you know I’ve seen brilliant, so-so, and downright terrible profiles. In this article I’m going to address what makes a profile terrible.
Don’t be offended if your profile falls under the following faux pas; not everyone has the gift to write their own powerful profile. Nor do they have the resources to hire a professional resume/LinkedIn profile writer (the two are mutually exclusive).
Let’s start at the top.
A painful background image
I experimented by searching for a Project Manager to see what the first profile would have for a background image. Much to my dismay the first one at the top of my list had the default one LinkedIn provides (below).
I say “dismay” because the person whose profile sports this background image presents an outstanding photo, which I’d show you if I weren’t afraid of retribution from said person. Why didn’t this person finish the job? Said person could have Googled “LinkedIn background images” to find a free one.
A painful photo
There are numerous photos that I find painful. Here they are in no particular order:
The imposter. This photo is 10 to 20 years old. Come on, we al realize that people age. I’m not satisfied with the photo that depicts my age, but it is what it is.
The over-the-top photo. You know these photos of people who are trying too hard to impress us with their creativity.
The group photo. Not really a showing the group but someone who has an arm draped over their shoulder.
The blurry photo. I can’t make out who the person is. This shows they don’t care about quality.
The selfie. I’ve seen photos of people shooting selfies in their car.
These are only a few of the photos that make reading a profile painful. Trust me, it’s worth investing some money in your photo; it’s part of your personal branding.
A painful Headline
Some will tell you that the Headline is the most important section of your profile. In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, 46% out of 1,176 voters concluded that the Headline is more important than the Experience (30%) and About (24%) sections.
Unemployed statement. Writing that you’re Unemployed, Seeking Employment, Open to New Opportunities, etc. do nothing for your branding. Save that valuable space by using the Open to Work badge LinkedIn provides.
Your title and current employer only. If you have enough remaining space to show your value, it’s fine to state this. But it’s more important that you have keywords that help others find you. A branding statement is helpful, as well.
The scatter-brained Headline. This Headline gives readers no idea what you do or want to do. Visitors must have a clear vision of your career direction and areas of expertise at least.
Here’s one from Elise Finn which is nicely written:
Director and Co-Founder of Nkuzi Change – helping large organisations unlock the potential of Middle Leaders through Coaching | Leadership Coach | Senior Exec in FTSE 100 Companies | She/Her
Although the poll mentioned above might indicate your About section isn’t as important as the other two, it is extremely important. So don’t fudge on this one. The About section is read by people who want to know your story; it’s where you can describe your passion, excellence, and voice.
A painful About section looks like this:
It’s your resume’s Summary. Enough said on this. I can see a person’s resume Summary a mile away. It’s short and devoid of first-person point of view and sometimes is full of cliches.
It’s too brief. I wouldn’t assume that your About section should be as long as mine, but I will advise that it provides some value. Some visitors find this section to be of most interest, so don’t disappoint.
It’s too dense. When I see a paragraph that’s 10 lines long, I ignore it. If I want to read something that long, I’ll read Moby Dick.
There are too many keywords. Some people like to cram as many keywords in their About section in order to be found by recruiters who are looking for particular skills. It’s best to sprinkle them throughout your profile to create a flowing document.
I wrote a recent, comprehensive post on what a strong About section looks like, so I won’t go into great detail about what to include in yours.
A painful Activity section
If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it means you’re not using LinkedIn for one of it’s greatest assets; allowing you to be heard. This is where I like to see that people have shared long posts, commented on what others have written, created polls, maybe written articles.
This section is one of the most neglected ones on a LinkedIn profile. And I don’t understand why. Here’s where you can really tout your greatness through accomplishments that are hopefully quantified. If not quantified, you can qualify them using first-person point of view.
A painful Experience section looks like this:
Only includes the bare basics. This means one’s title, place of employment, and months and years of tenure. Come on, show me the money! Give me some description.
Like About, it’s the resume’s Experiencesection. Here’s where you want to include only the best of the rest. In other words, highlight the accomplishments and the accomplishments only. If you have mundane duties on your resume, no need to mention them here.
It shows no character. Start creating your profile by copying and pasting your resume content to it, but then personalize it with, you guessed it, first-person point of view.
For example, “The team I lead keys into the business priorities, builds learning experiences to amplify the superpowers of the organization, and crafts engagement experiences to retain and celebrate the employees who achieve incredible results. We have such a blast making Inspire a place where people feel connected and are stretched to reach new heights.” ~Madeline Mann
You don’t utilize keywords. This is similar to your Headline where you simply write, “CEO at ABC Company.” Boring. Instead, write, “CEO at ABC Company ~ New Business Development | Global Strategic Relationships | Marketing and Sales“
Yes, your Education section can be painful. Many assume that LinkedIn wants you to write this section like it would appear on your resume. Wrong. You want to put some detail into it.
This is painful:
University of Massachusetts Bachelor’s Degree, English
Here’s my colleague Stacy Thompson‘s profile’s Education section, which is much better:
Boston College Bachelor of Arts Field Of Study Sociology, Pre-Law Activities and Societies: Undergraduate Government of Boston College, AHANA Leadership Council-Event Planning Director, Voices of Imani Gospel Choir
Member of the Undergraduate Government AHANA Leadership Council Member AHANA Leadership Council Assist Director Event Planning AHANA Leadership Council Director, Event Planning Voices of Imani Member, Leadership Role
In case you’re wondering, AHANA stands for: African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent. I’m proud to say that Stacey is a member of our city’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee.
Skills and Endorsements took its place as one of the criteria to have an All Star profile. Now S and E is also in the basement. There’s justice for you.
A painful Recommendation section looks like this:
Poorly written recommendations. There are multiple typos and grammatical mistakes. Sharing them is just as much your mistake as the writer’s. You have the ability to send them back for revision.
This section is all about you. So you have 20 recommendations. Great. But how many have you written for others? Are there crickets going off in your head?
You got nothing. You’re so afraid of asking for recommendations that you literally have none to show. Which leads to….
They’re old. The recommendations you have were written for you when you last looked for work, which was 10 years ago.
You might hate me for pointing out the faults of your profile, but I’m not writing this article for love. I’m writing it to make you better. When you write a strong profile–or have someone do it–it makes you think of your greatness. You need to think about your greatness.
Most people have a hard time engaging with the LinkedIn community, according to a poll I’m conducting on LinkedIn. Although the poll’s only on its second day, it reveals that 42% find it difficult to engage and 21% feel it’s somewhat difficult. Only 37% have no difficulty engaging with the LinkedIn community?
As someone who engages on LinkedIn on a daily basis, I find it hard to believe that others find it hard engaging with the LinkedIn community, but I’m the exception to the rule. This article is for job seekers (career advisors might learn a thing or two) and goes over the tips that will make it easier for them to engage with other members.
The first thing job seekers need to do is change their mindset and understand that engaging with LinkedIn members is no more than starting and nurturing communication with them. Think of engaging as conversations you gradually become immersed in.
Note: Don’t confine communication to your 1st degrees; communicate with your 2nd degrees, as well. Doing this can result in connecting with your 2nd degrees who could potentially be your best relationships.
Why it’s important
I’d be remiss in not telling you why it’s important to communicate with LinkedIn members. You know the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This is a good way to look at it. You want to stay top of mind, not be forgotten. In addition, recruiters and other hiring authorities will see you in their feed.
Follow these tips on how to make communication easier.
1. Start by following LinkedIn members
You might want to start following people before connecting with them. You will still see their content in your feed, but you won’t be able to communicate with them directly unless you have a premium account and use Inmail to send them a message.
Another benefit of following someone is getting on their radar for potentially connecting with them in the future. Some of the best invites I receive are those that say a person has been following me and enjoys my content. Would I like to connect with them.
Note: If you see a Connect button on their profile, click on the More drop-down and choose Follow. In some cases, people will prefer that you follow them and won’t be notified that you’ve started following them.
2. Actively search for content from LinkedIn members
Hopefully your first- and second-degree connections, and the people you’re following are like-minded and produce content that gels with you. For example, if you are in Supply Chain and want to read, view videos, or hear podcasts on this topic simply type “Supply Chain” in the Search field at the top left-hand corner of any page. Then select Posts.
I found 525 results for this topic, which is way too many to consume. By going to All Filters, one can select, Date posted, Sort by, Author industry, and Author company. I chose Past Week, Top Match, and typed in Pharmaceuticals. These filters garnered 21 results, including videos, posts, and an invite to join a webinar.
3. Search for content companies produce
Assuming you have a list of target companies, you can find content by visiting their LinkedIn page. I’m going to go to Fidelity to see what kind of content they’re producing.
On their page I see options for Posts which include All, Images, Documents, Videos, and Ads. Under All, there is a link for an article titled: Markets, emotions, and you. Currently there are 53 reactions and zero comments. This is your chance to react and comment on the article. (More on this later.)
Out of curiosity I select Videos, where I see that one was produced three months ago. It’s titled Mastering Stability Amid Change. I decide to watch it and am pleased that it’s only 31 seconds long. It’s obviously an advertisement. There are 138 reactions, five comments, and 5,190 views.
4. Use hashtags (#s) to find content
LinkedIn allows you to select hastags (#) which categorizes content. Instead of spending time on your feed searching for your desired topics, type in the Search engine #(topic). For example, if you want to read articles on digital marketing, type #digitalmarketing and select Posts.
How are hastags created? When people share content, they can choose existing hashtags or write their own within a post or at the end of it. Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to choose existing hashtags by clicking Discover More on the left of your homepage.
5. React and comment on what others write
Once you’ve chosen who to follow or connect with, their content will be displayed in your feed. However, LinkedIn doesn’t show all of the content that LinkedIn members you follow produces. You’ll have to actively search for it. This might seem like a needle in a haystack.
When you happen upon a long post, article, video, or podcast you read or listen to, choose one of the reaction buttons. They are: Like, Celebrate, Love, Support, Insightful, and Curious. Don’t leave it at that, though, write a thoughtful comment on something that resonated with you.
Here’s an example of a comment from someone who read one of my posts:
All are good points about resumes, Bob. I would say more important than anything about your formatting is the content. That is what the reader cares about above all else. Tell a compelling story that explains what value you bring to the employer. That is what will get you an interview.
Notice that my name is highlighted in blue and underlined. This commenter tagged me so I would be alerted in Notifications of her comment. More on this later.
6. Share articles of interest and comment on them
One of the benefits of using LinkedIn is that you can read, see, or hear content that is relevant to your occupation or industry and, in effect, learn from it. Many of my clients will share a post, podcast, or YouTube video with the people in my job club.
I began an assignment by sharing an article I read and asked the members of the group to do the same. There were two stipulations. First, they had to share the content with everyone. Second, they had to react and comment on what they shared.
Like commenting on a post, this is one of the easiest ways to communicate with your network and followers. I suggest to my clients who are just starting on LinkedIn that they do this on a regular basis. When they tell me they don’t have time to research topics on LinkedIn, I tell them it’s one of the best ways for them to use their time.
7. Write posts of your own
Once you’re use to commenting on other LinkedIn members’ posts, it’s time to write your own. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m out of work. What do I have to add?” You have a lot to add. Did you forget your expertise in marketing? No you didn’t. You are still an expert in your field.
Share what other LinkedIn members wrote (and comment on it)
News about companies (mentioned above)
Commenting on a photo
Producing a video (for the more advanced)
These are just a few ways you can communicate with your connections. It’s up to you to determine at which level you want to go.
8. Tag people
There’s nothing I dislike more than coming across a comment or even a post in which I’m mentioned but not tagged. I’ve had people share my articles without letting me know. It’s like people talking behind your back.
When you comment on someone’s post, for example, do the following: type @Bob McIntosh. Before you write my last name, I’ll appear in a drop-downof names. Simply click on my name and I’ll be inserted into your comment.
As soon as you do this, I’ll see a number appear on my Notifications icon. I’ll click on the icon and see that “(someone) has mentioned you in a comment.” Thus begins the conversation with whomever tagged me in a post or shared article.
9. Be consistent
I was told years ago that the way to gain a following is by being consistent. So, what I try to do every week—I’m not always successful—is create a poll on Monday, publish an article on Tuesday, write a long post on Wednesday or Thursday, and publish what I call “Blast from the past Saturday.”
By no means am I saying you should do what I do. What you should do is try to communicate with your connections at least four days a week. Whether it’s commenting on posts or articles, writing your own posts, or even writing articles and producing video—it’s your call.
10. By no means, be negative
This should go without saying, but I’ve seen some pretty nasty comments on posts. My thought is that if you read something you don’t like, keep scrolling until you find something you do like.
This is not to say you can’t disagree with something someone wrote. Just do it in a diplomatic manner. You could write, “You make some excellent points, Bob. However, I don’t agree that the #resume Summary should be written in bullet format.”
I would be more likely to respond with “I can see your point, Cheryl. I just feel that too many bullets will confuse the reader.” No harm, no foul.
There you have it. My final tip is to simply do it. As I mention above, if you want to stay on your connections’ radar, you must communicate with them. I know if might be intimidating at first, but once you begin the process and maintain consistency, it’ll be come second nature.