Dear Coach Joan,

Am I the only laid off person in my late 50s still job hunting after a two year search? It is really disheartening. I had made it up to a mid manager level but was laid off during a merger. I keep reading articles about ageism, and how difficult it is to get a job when most of the hiring folks younger and are more attracted to younger candidates like themselves. In the first few months I had a number of interviews, mostly from referrals from former colleagues, but nothing worked out.  Lately both my activity and mood has down and I wonder if it’s worth it to even apply anymore?

Downhearted Debbie in Sonoma County

Dear Debbie,

No, you are not the only long term unemployed out there. And it is a tough GO.  It is especially hard for those in the mid level management ranks to find new employment as there are fewer of those positions available. Yes, the younger people are naturally moving up the ranks and yes, they do often feel more comfortable hiring those like themselves. Automation is another trend that is flattening organizations and leading to fewer mid management positions. So is it it a tough situation? YES. But is it an impossible situation? NO, emphatically NO.

But the recommendations I am going to make are not a magic wand, and I would not set expectations that you will get a mid management job in your first hiring.

Here are the steps I suggest you consider:

  1. Review/Improve Your Sales Materials: That means your resume and LinkedIn profile. Make sure those tools are professional, clear and highlight your key skills and achievements. Remove jobs from 15+ years back. Have three trusted friends, colleagues or family members read your materials carefully and give you feedback. Sharpen them. Also, make sure you have at least three recommendations posted on LinkedIn, and people available for phone recommendations about you.
  2. Set a Wider Net: If you have only been applying for managerial roles, look to apply to individual contributor roles. If you have been looking in one industry, look for job listings in a similar industry. Again, apply for job that might be easier for you to get.
  3. Show you are a LIFELONG learner: On the one hand you cannot become a younger person, but on the other hand, you can show vitality and openness to learning and keeping up professionally by taking classes, getting additional certifications, playing an active role in professional groups. And then add these recent accomplishments to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
  4. Get a Temp or Contract Job: Yes, I’ve even had clients who were corporate controllers take temp jobs as accountants! They earned a fraction of their typical pay, and had lower level responsibilities but it gave them visibility in new companies, new colleagues to meet, a little money coming in and very importantly, a renewed spring in their step, being back in the working world. You never know who you’ll meet when you’re out on a job!!
  5. Volunteer! Yes, almost any elected official will be looking for office volunteers. So will most community humane societies, schools, hospitals, food banks; all are looking for volunteers. Sometimes it might feel good to volunteer in a different capacity than your regular job skills, but you will feel purposeful and good with yourself, you will be meeting people and it will put you in a refreshed and positive state of mind.                                            Debbie, you also want to make sure to keep yourself as happy and healthy as possible during a stressful time. Exercise. No need for a gym membership. when you live here in Sonoma County you have parks, galore and all kinds of free or low fee hiking groups to join! Get out and walk, find a walking partner. I know that a 2-year unemployment period can be depressing but I will tell you that I’ve had clients who’ve gone even longer, yet they made it make to the world of the working. Usually they did it step by step…Please try some of my suggestions and best of luck in getting back to work.                                                             Coach Joan