The market continues to pick up slowly but surely with a noticeable increase in the number of openings posted online. Even though we continue to stress networking as the best strategy for job seekers, postings do provide a quantified indicator. Openings and landings are occurring at all levels and in all industry categories.
#Case Study 1: After his seven-year stint as Senior Portfolio Manager at a global financial services firm ended, the candidate sought a similar position with an emphasis on client interaction. Working with his Ayers consultant, he came up with a full campaign. Thorough preparation for interviews helped him develop a strong understanding of how to present his accomplishments.
The candidate was a diligent networker who made extensive use of the strategic, forward-looking Networking Profile from the CareerPartners International (CPI) Workbook. Although he answered postings, his real focus was on networking into target companies.He brought his habitual thoroughness to interviews with the global financial institution that would soon be his new employer. He worked with his consultant to align his background to the company's needs, identify and address perceived obstacles to his hiring, research each person he would be meeting and prepare to comment intelligently on the institution's investment strategies.
The result: After a four-month search, he is now Senior Portfolio Manager. The offer met all his goals including compensation. He is very comfortable with his new colleagues and the institution's investment philosophy. His new employer accommodated his preference to remain in the New York City area rather than report to the home office in another state.
Lesson: Thorough preparation for interviews pays off.
#Case Study 2: The former HR Director of a firm serving the financial service industry decided to remain in HR but shift sectors. The candidate wanted something more closely aligned with his personal interests. Having once interrupted his HR career to teach and consult for two years, he decided to focus on education and not-for profits, knowing that those fields would pay less. He worked with his Ayers consultant to reposition himself, accepting a consulting assignment that would provide credibility in his target fields. They leveraged that experience to demonstrate the transferability of his skills, focusing also on networking and interviewing skills. When the candidate found himself with multiple offers, his consultant helped him with the evaluation process. He ended his three-month search as HR Director of a not-for-profit that provides leadership training for educators. As expected, it represented a pay cut. But, aided by advice from his consultant, he negotiated an improved compensation package that exceeded his expectations.
Lesson: You can find a new role aligned to your interests if you follow and communicate your passions and understand how to translate your skills to a new environment.
#Case Study 3: A Credit Research Director knew the time had come to leverage his 20 years of experience in credit to another area within financial services. He worked with his Ayers consultant to identify potential targets: commercial banks, hedge funds and rating agencies. His challenge was to reposition himself for each of these, addressing perceived weaknesses and differentiating himself against candidates with a more precise fit. He actively networked over a three-month period, attending conferences and using online social networking tools such as LinkedIn. One day, a hiring manager the candidate had worked with early in his career found him online and reconnected. The result was an interview for the Research Director position at a start-up rating agency. In preparation, the candidate and his consultant developed strategies for demonstrating a good fit with the entrepreneurial environment in terms of personal style, as well as background and skills. The effort paid off with an offer. Although the salary is lower, the position carries good upside potential and the candidate is excited about his new role.
Lesson: Make yourself visible in your market and people will find you. It is critical to demonstrate good fit with the environment, people and culture.
Losing a job often forces us to redefine ourselves and, at the very least, step outside our comfort zones. On a regular basis, we at Ayers meet with people who "stretch" themselves during this time. They often find themselves doing things - or, in some cases,having to do things - they may not have thought possible. Networking does not always come naturally to everyone, but it is still integral to a job search. Once embraced, it can lead to new opportunities and new adventures, as the following clients can attest:
#Case Study 1: After 40+ years at a pharmaceutical company, an IT Director learned that his employer was downsizing.
He took a package that included The Ayers Group's Active Life Planning (ALP) program. Using the program's assessments and exercises, the executive - aided by his Ayers consultant - determined what gaps would exist in his life as a result of leaving his long-term employer and identified areas of opportunity. He decided that this new phase of life would involve a variety of activities. Becoming an avid bicyclist has enabled him to spend quality time with one of his children while realizing important health benefits. It has also connected him with a group of bikers who raise funds for a charity in which he believes. ALP encourages people to stretch themselves.
Because fundraising had been outside his natural skill set, it was not something the executive had done in the past. Now,fundraising has replaced some of the socializing from corporate life and enabled him to reconnect with people from his past. The executive plans to expand his public service efforts and, at the same time, replace some of the intellectual stimulation derived from work by becoming educated about and involved with environmental conservation in his lakefront community.
Takeaways: To become fully active in this new phase of life, individuals have to be willing to pursue previously unexplored paths.
Embrace the adventure!
#Case Study 2: After losing his job as Lead Developer/Business Analyst at a global bank after six years, the client wanted to focus solely on Business Analyst positions.
The challenge: a background primarily in IT (20+ years) rather than business analysis. He worked with his Ayers consultant to redefine himself and his résumé around his objective and develop a plan. He also received extensive job search training. Networking did not come naturally, but he was persistent. Throughout the five-month search, he relied on his Ayers team and networking group to help him stay motivated. When he interviewed for a Business Analyst position at a major financial institution, one of his networking contacts convinced the hiring manager to give the client the opportunity even though his background did not make him a perfect fit. He now has a contract position at a comparable salary and with the opportunity to convert to permanent employment.
Takeaways: Persistence is critical. Networking cannot only get you through the door, it can help you overcome obstacles.
#Case Study 3: An HR Director with 20 years of experience in the field lost her position when her employer, a major diversified manufacturer, restructured. Her objective was a lateral move or a higher level of responsibility at an "agile"organization.
The challenge: her background was more tactical than strategic and focused on one industry. The client and her Ayers consultant reworked her résumé, set a strategy and crafted her script. She reached out to HR and management contacts and select networking groups. When activity proved to be limited, her consultant advised a résumé revision to highlight more impact and accomplishment. The client's activity level improved but she was not receiving offers. Her consultant helped her identify the potential dynamics going on in the hiring process with the various participants and helped her develop a strategy for dealing with them. The client found a job posting for an HR Director at an R&D firm and received an offer. It represents a lateral move,but she is now at an organization with a positive, energetic culture and a strong leadership team that will capitalize on her varied experience.
Takeaways: Job posting boards are generally not the most productive source, but you cannot overlook any potential source in this market. If your résumé does not stimulate activity, your message is probably not compelling enough.
#Case Study 4: After 20+ years with a specialty electronics manufacturer, a supervisor found herself unemployed when the company was sold and reorganized. Her objective was to find an assembly line or supervisor position.
The challenges: Her age (mid-50s), physical limitations and reduction in the type of manufacturing in which she had experience. But she had a strong network, a reputation as an excellent worker and the ability to respond quickly for interviews. The client's Ayers consultant suggested a plan and strategy and assisted with developing a résumé and a script for use in approaching contacts. Her consultant prepped her for interviews and debriefed her afterwards. Her outreach to previous colleagues who had moved on to similar manufacturers resulted in leads and interviews. After being rejected for a position of strong interest, she was in special need of support and encouragement. The leads paid off, and she landed as an Assembler and Quality Control Tester. This was an acceptable alternative to the client's ideal job, based on a realistic assessment of her skills and physical limitations.
Takeaways: Networking is key. Be realistic in assessing your skills in the current marketplace.
YES, THERE IS WORK AFTER 50
The following case studies of mature workers who have successfully found full-time positions in recent months are proof that age is an obstacle, not a dead end. With age comes skills and experience many employers will embrace.
#Case Study 1: After eight years with a pharmaceutical manufacturer, a director aged 65+ found himself jobless but not ready to retire. His objective was to land a comparable full-time position that made use of his extensive managerial and technical experience in the industry. Knowing it would be a challenge, he worked his Ayers program diligently.
His résumé, LinkedIn profile, verbal messages and use of technology tools were all carefully crafted to project someone who is hands-on, current and energetic. The search was heavily relianton networking. His Ayers team helped keep him focused and motivated, while preparing him for interview questions that addressed age concerns. After six months in transition, the executive landed as Director of Global Outsourcing at a small,growing biopharmaceutical firm. The position is a step up, with plenty of potential for professional and financial growth.
Takeaways: Taking steps to look vital and current and working your program diligently will produce success.
#Case Study 2: An IT Director specializing in enterprise systems had concerns about his viability in the job market because of his age (65) and longevity with a single employer (21 years). He had not begun his master's degree program until he was over 50, and did not become certified in his field until he was 60. His Ayers consultant counseled a three-pronged strategy: conduct a search for a corporate job and another focused on ITconsulting firms, while laying the groundwork for an independent consultancy. In addition to a résumé and cover letter, the consultant helped draft a marketing letter stressing the pertinent skills and experience the candidate offered to fill the specialized needs of potential clients. Together, they used the OneSource database to identify potential clients and the name of the most senior executive for each. The Ayers consultant provided a referral to an attorney for help in creating an LLC and a sample letter of agreement for use in consulting. While conducting a direct mail campaign to generate consulting assignments, the IT executive received an interview request from a major consulting firm. Much to his surprise, two months and a day after his layoff he accepted a position with that firm - at a higher salary and with better benefits than his previous position offered. As a bonus, he is prepared to resume his own consulting business if the need or preference arises
Takeaways: It's never too late to add to your technical credentials. Pursuing parallel strategies can provide greater opportunities.
#Case Study 3: A VP-Technical Operations had spent over 20 years at a medical diagnostics company starting as a research scientist. At age 50+, he was ready for a change.
His objective: to become involved in commercializing research for a university or other research organization, with a medical/biotech incubator as a fallback. The candidate worked with his Ayers consultant to create messaging that "connected the dots" between his prior and desired roles and began cultivating a network in the targeted area, tapping into industry groups. To convince potential employers of his ability to perform in the new role, he prepared rigorously for interviews and began consulting at small companies. During interviews with a university, these strategies helped him allay concerns about his adaptability to a new environment and role. He demonstrated advantages, such as his ability to relate to the needs of potential industry partners and selectively adapt best practices of major corporations. Seven months after his layoff, he became the university's head of lifesciences licensing. He will maintain a portion of his consulting work, offsetting compensation differences between industry and academia.
Takeaways: A career change is possible if you are careful and thorough in targeting your new role and potential employers.
#Case Study 4: A 60-year-old CIO from the non profit sector came to Ayers on a six-month program. He took full advantage of all the services, becoming a true student of the process. His initial thrust was to start an entrepreneurial venture. Partnering with another Ayers candidate he met in the weekly Peak Performance networking group and a third individual, he began developing business and marketing plans and investigating financial backing. When the effort lost steam after several months, the executive began a job search. The Ayers program provided the process, structure and the tools to help him develop his branded message.
He became an expert at networking and adopted a proactive mindset. Within a few months, the candidate secured a position as CIO of a major non profit where he could embrace the mission and continue on his career path.
Takeaways: With the right attitude and effort, you can create your own job opportunities regardless of age or the economic landscape. It helps to have a backup plan.