The unfortunate truth of today’s job market is that applying for jobs is very competitive. Employers can be picky about who they hire and how much they want to pay. For many job seekers over fifty, the search process is a longer, harder road than they remember from years past.
This is especially true during the pandemic, when it has been harder to keep up things like hair color and regular gym work outs. Greys are showing through and age is becoming more obvious.
Some companies view an older employee as a risk. They can be more expensive, and less likely to stick around for the long term. An older applicant may be looked at as less flexible, and behind the times when it comes to technology.
Older workers want to switch jobs, but they feel trapped. They’re certain another company won’t take a risk to hire them.
If you’re facing this dilemma, start by taking a long look in the mirror. Think about what you can control at this stage of the pandemic, whether it’s home hair color, teeth whitening strips, or updated glasses. Evaluate your interview attire. If your clothes are outdated, consider purchasing something new. If you meet with the same company multiple times, change your shirt and tie or jewelry instead of buying an entirely new wardrobe. And, if you’re interviewing over Zoom, consider investing in a ring light. These can help with your appearance overall.
Next, evaluate your technology. If you’re outdated technology, it may be time to upgrade. Consider signing up for and participating in social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’re using an old email address (such as AOL or Comcast), it’s time to sign-up for a free Gmail account. If you’re not sure whether or not your email is outdated, think of how long you’ve had it and where it came from. If you’ve had it more than ten years, and it ends in your Internet service provider’s name, you could be at risk.
Last, spruce up your resume. Remove positions from the beginning of your career that are no longer relevant to what you do today. Do not include your high school, and keep any college related activities to a bare minimum. It’s no longer relevant that you were the president of the college chess team. You can even consider removing your college graduation year from your resume. It’s much harder to guess your age if you don’t provide the year you entered school.
The bad news is that with the pandemic, our normal upkeep has become a bit harder. The good news is that if you’re interviewing from home, you still have some control. Start with these simple tips, and you’ll quickly find that you shave years off your appearance and your resume. Although you can’t eliminate age discrimination altogether, you certainly can reduce the likelihood that it significantly impacts your search.
How relieved are you that spring is here? After months of winter paired up with snow storms, and a long global pandemic, seeing flowers and clear skies brings much hope for the future. It’s finally warm enough to spend time outside. With the vaccine rollout, we are beginning to look toward the future. And, the job market seems to agree.
In March, the US unemployment rate dropped to six percent. There were 916,000 new jobs created. This is the fastest we have seen jobs added since last summer. Job growth was across the board, with a larger increase in leisure, hospitality, public and private education, and construction. This is good news.
Many people have been putting all of their energy into holding onto their current jobs through the pandemic. And, it makes sense. It has been hard to know which way things would go or how long it would take to get back to normal life. It has been unclear what work will even look like in the future. Will we continue to be remote? Will we go back to the office full time? Or, will it be some combination of the two?
If you’re like many people, you haven’t had the energy to job search. Just getting through each day has been a larger task than we’d like to admit. We’re worried about an array of new problems. Kids are doing school from home. We’re working from home. We’re either completely alone or with our entire family. And, medical risks seem to be around every corner – whether from the pandemic to mental health. It takes more effort than usual to keep moving ahead in a positive direction.
But, spring brings a new energy and an opportunity to take a deep breath. Companies are actively seeking out new candidates for interviews (even when they haven’t applied to jobs). Companies are adding new jobs and for some jobs, it appears there may be fewer people looking than jobs available. Companies are working around the pandemic, interviewing candidates via Zoom and Skype. They are moving ahead with a look to our more normal future.
What does this all mean for you? If you’ve been wondering when to look, this may be the time to get started. If you do, you’ll increase the chances that you beat other candidates who haven’t yet started to think about looking.
Search for the latest job postings. When you apply, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, companies don’t require you to meet every criteria in a job description. They’re looking for the best candidate, not the perfect candidate. Second, if you have a desk job, consider looking outside your local area. Even if a job isn’t listed as remote, the company may be open to remote work.
If you’ve been waiting for the right time to consider something new, the spring may give you just what you need.
Recently, an old question resurfaced. Should high school seniors go straight to college? Or, should they enter the workforce first? This can feel like a difficult question as young people face such big decisions.
Those who argue that seniors should work for a few years believe eighteen year olds are too young to make such life altering decisions. They will take college for granted. They will select the wrong major. And, they will incur high student debt before they know what they really want to do.
While I respect this perspective, I don’t agree with it. I believe high school students, if they can, should go straight to college following high school.
One of the biggest things working against us when we are young is a lack of information. At this age, part of this lack of information is due to a small circle. In other words, you get most of your information about careers from your parents.
Your parents may have very specific careers. They could have done those same jobs for their entire adult lives. And, their knowledge about other careers is limited. Those same parents are the ones who typically advise their children on career choices, such as which major to select. The problem is, parents also don’t have enough information to give a solid recommendation.
Sending these students out into the workforce (or on a backpacking trip) is not the answer. At this age, you’re qualified to do very few jobs. It can be hard to even secure an unpaid internship. A high school graduate may end up working in fast food, as a nanny, or in some other entry level job. These jobs won’t give more information about which major to select.
When a high school student goes straight to college, two things happen. First, they don’t get taken off their normal path. They don’t end up never going back to school. They don’t end up in some unfortunate life situation that derails them.
Second, they are exposed to many other students. Those students come from different families, with different parents, and different information about careers. They also have the opportunity to be exposed to professors from various backgrounds and other career advisors. And, they will likely have the option to complete an internship or two that will give them real life career experience. All of these things expand the amount of information they have access to. It gives them a better chance of making the right decision about their ultimate career.
This brings us to the worry about picking the right college major. It is very common to graduate with a degree in one thing, and end up doing something different in your career. A college major is often less important than we assume. Ask your friends what they studied, and you may be surprised.
But, what is the most important is finishing college. There is no substitute.
Sometimes, I think back on early career lessons. It’s amazing how someone says something when you’re young that doesn’t make sense until you’re older. My very first job was working for General Motors. I was nineteen, working as an engineer while I was a student. My boss pulled me aside. He said words that I’ll never forget, but that didn’t fully make sense at the time.
He said that in the corporate world, there is often a sort of personality trait that’s preferred. It’s a more aggressive, loud tone. He pointed out that my working style was different. It was more subtle. I persuaded people with persistence and patience. He said that one day, someone at work would try to encourage me to change away from my nature style. But, I should resist. My natural style works well, and there is space for me. Don’t change it.
As I’ve grown through my career, I’ve witnessed the sentiment he was referencing. I’ve heard people say things about how introverts aren’t welcome at specific companies. Extroverts are where it’s at. I’ve seen bosses try to imprint their aggressive style on their employees.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for self-development. But, when you’re learning to be your best self, you should still come out yourself in the end. You should not morph into another person with another style. And, there’s no one style or personality type that’s the right one.
So often, when we struggle, we beat ourselves up. We focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Very often, this energy can be better used by trying to get better at our natural strengths, rather than to fix all of our weaknesses. But, that misses the point a bit, doesn’t it? Being your true self is not a weakness. Being your true self is what you have to bring to the table.
If your company is trying to change you, take a little time to digest the criticism. Does the feedback represent a real and actionable issue that you can correct? For example, perhaps you are often late to meetings. This is a real issue that should be corrected.
On the other hand, is the feedback more about your personality or style just being different than the mainstream culture? If that’s the case, start to think about your results. Are you getting your work done? Are you meeting your goals? If not, perhaps it’s time to come up with new ideas. But, if you are meeting your goals, the feedback may be more about your fit within the corporate culture.
In the last year, we have talked a lot about diversity and inclusion. Diversity is about having a seat at the table. Inclusion is about being able to bring your whole self to work. It’s about being accepted, despite differences you may have. At the end of the day, you need to be true to you.
Many of us are chomping at the bit for the COVID vaccine. It feels like a ticket to freedom. Glassdoor.com recently conducted a survey to understand where employees stand on the issue of the vaccine and returning to the workplace. Their results are quite interesting, and I wonder if you agree with their findings.
Glassdoor is a website where employees can leave reviews of their employers. Interestingly, Glassdoor found that over 58,000 reviews mention COVID-19 or the vaccine. This is definitely a big topic on everyone’s minds.
First and foremost, 7 in 10 people surveyed believe that employees should be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine in order to return to the office. This makes sense. We’ve been isolating for a year. Getting the vaccine is an important next step in returning. Of those surveyed, 76 percent also said they intend to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. This is good news, considering how dependent reopening is on the vaccine.
The part that truly surprised me about the survey is this. 69 percent of people surveyed by Glassdoor agreed that employers should offer financial incentives for employees to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for financial incentives at work. But, this seems a little out of the ordinary. We can’t wait to get back into the world. We want everyone at work to be vaccinated. We plan to be vaccinated. Yet, we want to be compensated to receive a COVID vaccine?
I don’t mean to be the negative person here, but it seems a little like if we’re going to get on board, we should do it because it’s the right thing to do. No compensation should be necessary. And, aren’t we just happy to have a job at this point?
Also of note in this survey was remote work. Many employees like working from home and would like to keep it up, regardless of what’s happening with the pandemic. Of those surveyed, nearly 9 in 10 (86 percent) said they would prefer to continue working from home at least part of the time after offices reopen. This comes as no surprise as companies have had a year to test drive working from home.
In fact, 17 percent of those surveyed said they would consider quitting their job if they were required to return to the office five days a week, regardless of vaccinations. This is an interesting point. It’s one thing to quit a job completely. It’s a completely different thing to find another job to replace your current job.
The job market has shifted in the last year. Employers will have to think hard about what the future of work looks like. It’s time to start again. But, this time, we know what’s possible with remote work. So, it’s time to decide what we want work to look like in a post COVID, post vaccinated world.