Dear Dr. Lisa
I’m having a hard time finding a job. I was laid off six months ago. It’s very frustrating. I have a lot of experience in technology, yet I worry my skills will become obsolete if I don’t get back to work soon. I am over 50, which, I think, makes it even harder. I need to get back to work. My kids are preparing for college. What should I do?
Out in the Cold
Dear Out in the Cold:
I completely understand your situation. It is frustrating to lose your job and struggle to find a new one. It is particularly frustrating when employers don’t seem to appreciate your experience and the value you would offer. I wish I could say that age discrimination does not happen, but it does. It’s the world we live in. Plus, it’s hard to get hiring managers to see beyond the very specific, narrow job description. The good thing is you have experience. Now you need a solid strategy to navigate around the known obstacles.
First, contact three people you’ve worked with during your professional career. These should be people you trust, who know your work and would hire you in a minute if they could. Ask them to outline your strengths and weaknesses including what value you have brought and would bring to a new employer. I promise their feedback will be invaluable. It will help you identify any blind spots you need to correct for your next role. It will also boost your confidence that I’m sure has taken a hit since you were laid off.
Second, get clear about what you are willing to do. Are you willing to take a step or two down to work your way back up? This may be necessary to re-enter in your field. Your close colleagues will help you discern this. Consider taking any relevant training to keep your skills sharp and make you a more attractive candidate. Can you make that investment? Also, keep in mind that once you land with a firm, you are better positioned to move to other roles in that firm.
Finally, and most importantly, network, network, network. Tell people you are looking for work. Tell them what you are looking to do. Don’t ask anyone to find you a job. You are simply sharing your interests with lots of people in case they hear of something that might be helpful. Be sure to follow up with them. If networking is not your strength, find a course on how to network effectively. I cannot overstate the importance of networking. It is critical to your success.
Good luck, Out in the Cold! I don’t expect you will be there long.
P.S. Your theme song is, “Let Em In” by Wings.