Undertaking a job search is never easy, no matter the stage of your career. However, new grads just starting out have one advantage over mid-career job seekers – by starting with a blank slate, they have a certain amount of freedom to go in any direction presented to them. While there are obvious disadvantages for first-time job seekers as well, their lack of prior work experience doesn’t confine their job search to an industry or environment with which they’re familiar.
On the other hand, mid-career job seekers are more focused because they already know their strengths and want to draw upon their past experience. Certainly, there are many workers who change industries and find their skills to be transferrable. But most mid-career job seekers want to build upon a foundation that has already been laid.
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The best job search strategy for experienced workers is to leverage the strengths they may have over those with less experience while ensuring they’re not deficient in any areas in which younger candidates may excel. Let’s look at a few areas of focus for mid-career job seekers.
One of the biggest advantages mid-career job seekers have over first-time job seekers is their work experience. This should be highlighted wherever possible. Update your resume and list any major projects and their outcomes. Make sure to use quantifiable numbers when applicable. Do the same with your LinkedIn profile.
Remember that hiring managers and recruiters scan resumes or LinkedIn profiles for work experience and accomplishments, and ATS systems scan resumes for relevant keywords. Make sure all of these are updated and optimized.
Leverage your network
Another strength mid-career job seekers should leverage is the industry connections they have made at previous jobs. According to LinkedIn, the number-one way people discover a new job opportunity is through a referral.
While networking with anyone in your industry could prove beneficial, networking with former coworkers, clients or business contacts is more likely to lead to a future job opportunity, with better chances of job satisfaction and longer tenure. Try to reach out to as many people as possible in your chosen field. Let them know you’re job hunting and ask for referrals and advice. You never know from what source your next job will come.
Search where the jobs are
Job boards and websites can be effective tools, but they shouldn’t be the only ones used in a search. Think of companies you would consider ideal employers and check their websites for a listing of open positions. Follow their pages on social media and connect with other employees. Let them know you’re on a job search and interested in working for their company.
Also, join industry groups on LinkedIn and post relevant content. Employees will be far more likely to refer you to open positions if they recognize your name and notice your interest and persistence. However, don’t be too aggressive because you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons.
Stay current with technology
The job search, application, and interview processes have changed significantly in the past few years. For those who haven’t been on a job search in a while, you may feel a bit out of the loop. Social media has become an invaluable tool, giving job seekers yet another avenue to communicate with employers and recruiters.
At a minimum, be sure to have a social presence on LinkedIn, and that any other sites you’re active on display employer-friendly content. Set up alerts on an aggregator site like Indeed to alert you to job opportunities that meet your needs. Make sure your resume is ATS-compatible, as most employers will input it into their database, which will then scan it for relative keywords. Finally, make sure you’re familiar with video software like Skype so if an employer requests a video interview, it won’t be your first time using it.
Keep your goals realistic
While job seekers with unique skill sets or in high-demand industries may have little trouble finding employment, for most, the job search process takes time. Additionally, a mid-career job change may require considering other industries or job duties that you hadn’t considered previously. Keep an open mind as to potential jobs and employers and don’t limit yourself.
Remember that until you receive a job offer, nothing is guaranteed and you should keep your search moving forward. However, be careful not to apply to the same job multiple times out of frustration, or to jobs for which you’re clearly not qualified out of desperation. Doing so could label you as too persistent or always unqualified.
Though the job market is strong and unemployment is low, competition for jobs is fierce. New grads are entering the job market each year, technologically savvy and possessing real-world experience gained through internships. The responsibility falls on experienced job seekers to determine what sets them apart from those with less experience, then highlight their strengths and learn to overcome any deficiencies that may hinder their job search.
John Feldmann is a Communications Specialist for Insperity Recruiting Services in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity’s brand to business professionals and job seekers.
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