We live in a youth-obsessed society where “new and improved” trumps “time tested.” This carries over into the job market when employers reject the maturity and experience possessed by the fifty-something-year-old worker in favor of the thirty-something “up and comer.” Often I hear a lament like this from job hunters: “I'm 58 years old, out of work, and I'm not ready or financially able to retire. My age is really making it difficult to find a job." Sound familiar? An AARP June poll reveals that more than 25 percent of Massachusetts residents age 50 and older report that they or someone they know has experienced age discrimination. Despite the fact that it is illegal, it is nonetheless very real. As an older worker, you can't eliminate age discrimination. But you can learn what lies behind it and take steps to differentiate yourself from stereotypes. By doing so, you increase your chances of receiving serious consideration. In my latest article which appears in U.S. News & World Report, I offer concrete suggestions to deal with age discrimination in hiring. READ THE FULL ARTICLE ►Age discrimination image from Bigstock
We get it. Looking for work can be scary, especially if you’ve been at it for a long time and haven’t gotten any results.
Understanding which fears are getting in the way and how to overcome them will make all the difference. Sometimes you might not be aware of which obstacle is getting in the way of your goals. If you want to overcome these fears once and for all, we invite you to join us!
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One portion of an employee’s personal development is work-related, but there is more. When you think of an employee’s personal development do you think of the skills for them to keep current, get a promotion, or transfer to another department? Improving core skills such as analytical abilities, critical thinking, and/or decision making? Skills to take on a leadership role and manage staff? Obtaining higher credentials?
Assuming so, organizational leaders should:
1. Make sure you understand what employees do and how it aligns with the company’s goals
2. Let employees do the job you hired them to do (leveraging their strengths and interests); nobody likes to be micromanaged
3. Challenge employees with stretch goals
4. Encourage employees to learn new things and give them the tools they need to learn:
- Read books, magazines, trade journals, newsletters, blogs
- Watch online videos, listen to podcasts
- Take courses (in-person, online) and attend webinars, workshops, conferences
- Company-provided training - Microsoft Office, application-specific courses
- Hard skills such as an SQL class, foreign language
- Effective communication skills - writing classes or speaking training (e.g., Toastmasters)
- Other soft skills - time management, problem solving
- Learning platforms - LinkedIn Learning, MasterClass
- Leadership-related training
- Supervisor skills, management trainee program
- Some will want to manage people, but others won’t and that’s ok
- Professional license, certification (e.g., PMP, CISSP), college degree
- Don’t forget to support CPE (continuing professional education) requirements
- Groups - professional associations, networking groups, etc.
- Other - internships, volunteer opportunities
These are great work-related considerations, but there is more. There is a saying by Confucius: “I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.” Do you encourage employees’ personal development (and the key word is personal) to be the best version of themself? Have you asked them what is important to them? If it’s important to them, it should be important to you too.
Developing A Growth Mindset
Personal development is lifelong learning and it’s never too late to start. Encourage employees to develop a growth mindset and continue learning while working for the company. This includes opportunities to:
1. Enhance their quality of life such as health/fitness, self-care, self-confidence2. Self-improvement to fully develop their character, capabilities, and potential
- Develop a reading habit
- Personal finances, personal creativity, or other personal-related learnings
- “Work-related” skills listed above even if they aren’t relevant to their current role
- Some organizations (such as Amazon, Chipotle, and Starbucks) have free or practically free college programs for front-line employees, which removes financial barriers
3. Realize their dream - maybe to become an entrepreneur and start their own business
How To Create A Custom Personal Development Plan For Employees
Has your organization recognized that they need to think differently about developing employees? They should work together with the employee to create a custom personal development plan (PDP) based on what the employee is interested in (including both work and personal aspects). Four basic steps are:
1. Perform a self-assessment
2. Establish and prioritize goals (both short and long term) breaking up the goals into manageable tasks
3. Create a step-by-step plan identifying required resources, timelines, etc.
- Identify objectives to reach the goals as well as strategies to achieve the tasks
- Identify any weaknesses, development needs, barriers
4. Measure progress
- Reward and celebrate accomplishments
- Be prepared for setbacks - adjust and course correct
As a leader, be available when employees want to talk with you as well as periodically check in with them to ensure they have a good work-life balance. Both of these could be good coaching/mentoring opportunities.
When there is a comprehensive personal development plan, the employee is more likely to be and stay excited about what’s next (and stay with the organization longer). For more information about personal development, follow me on LinkedIn!
I got an email yesterday from a client wanting to know if I had any job search tips. Unfortunately, he had been recently laid off and found himself on the job market. Talking to him got me thinking...What really makes a job search successful?
The bad news is that there isn't a magic formula. The good news is that there are a number of very simple things you can do to improve your marketability.
Here are four easy steps to follow if you want to speed up your job search:
1. Update Your Resume As Soon As Possible
This might sound simple, but it is by far the most important (and first) step in a job search. You need to have your resume ready to roll at a moment's notice.
The way I see it, there are two kinds of job seekers. There is the job seeker that draws confidence from being prepared and then there is the kind of job seeker that gets blindsided by the unexpected. I know which kind I'd rather be.
The best time to focus on your resume is when you don't need it.
2. Figure Out Who Your Resume Is For
Is your resume for you or is it for prospective employers? The resume might have your info, experience, and accomplishments on it, but, ultimately, the documents that make it past the ATS not only have the right amount of keywords peppered throughout but also show, very clearly, what the applicant can do forthe potential employer.
When writing your resume, always keep potential employers at the forefront of your mind. Make sure you quantify your experience, skills, and accomplishments. Give them a preview of the kind of positive impact you could have on their organization if they were to hire you.
3. Realize It's Not About You
Really. It's not. The most successful job seekers understand that it's about what you do for others, not about what they can do for you.
This is a fundamental idea that for some I hope turns the act of "networking" completely upside down. In every interaction, the most important thing is to demonstrate, "How can I help YOU?" It's the folks who unselfishly look out for those around them who make opportunities happen. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
What connections can you help make? Ask open-ended questions. You may even choose to treat the conversation like an informational interview. What professional needs does the other party have and how can you fill them?
4. Determine Your Target
This is such a simple concept, but it's probably the biggest obstacle I see with many of my clients. You need to have a target. It is as easy as that. How can you expect to reach the goal of employment without aiming for a bullseye?
The first step is to clearly identify the job/profession/industry you are targeting. You may even have a company that you've always wanted to work at. (It's always a good idea to have an interview bucket list—a list of companies you're passionate about that you'd love to work for someday.)
Make sure that your goal aligns with your experience. Then (and only then) are you free to begin outlining a plan to achieve your goal.
Here's an example:
I have an open door policy with my resume clients and I keep tabs on them throughout their job searches. Out of all the resumes and resume clients I've ever had, only one resume didn't work. One. When I wrote the initial resume, my client was targeting retail sales positions. Then she called one day a couple of months into her job search wondering why she wasn't getting any responses. I asked her to send me an example of the jobs she was applying for and guess what? All the online job applications she had filled out were for human resources positions. No wonder her resume didn't work!
After rewriting her resume, she found work relatively quickly and it just goes to show how important it is to aim before you pull the trigger.
Know your audience, be proactive, and remember that it's not about you. If you apply these things to your job search, you'll be employed in no time!
Need more help with your job search?
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.