From time to time I get inquiries about the services of career consulting firms. (Please understand I am not talking about recognized and well respected outplacement firms such as Right Management and Lee Hecht Harrison, nor am I talking about a few individual Career Coaches who are known to me and to your fellow members.)
For those of us over the age of 40 (and that’s just about everyone in The FENG), the specter of potential unemployment or under employment from now until the end of time can be a scary one. I understand and accept that.
In addition, job search for those of us over 40 is more difficult. Not only are we over qualified for just about everything, but we have often been earning more money than many of the jobs for which we are applying. The proverbial puzzle about why we would be willing to “take a cut in pay” is a hard one to answer when we feel we are worth the extra money it would take to “make us whole,” but the truth is that if you aren’t working any job is an infinite percentage increase in pay. (You have to love math facts, don’t you?)
To sort of short cut some of the at length discussion that might appear in our newsletter about specific career coaching firms, I would suggest that the first thing to do is “Google” any firm you with whom you might consider doing business. If that doesn’t get you to staple your wallet closed, nothing much will.
The basic services offered by most career services are effectively offered for free as part of your membership in The FENG if you are willing to do some of the work yourself. For example, let’s start with writing your resume.
There are lots of good resume writing books out on the market. Pick one and read it cover to cover. Then, read it again. If you weren’t much of a writer before you began, you will be better when you finish. If you don’t know how to do bolding or indenting, you might want to learn. As an alternative, ask your significant other for help or one of your children should you have any within reach. This is no time to be bashful. Once you have a decent version of your resume, help is available for this important document by writing to ResumeReview@TheFENG.org. (If you consider yourself a writer and would like to volunteer, please drop a note with a copy of your resume to the same address and it will be forwarded on to Lew Bader and Cheri Phillips, the current Co-Chairs of the Resume Review Committee.) Help is also available at our many virtual meetings. All you have to do is “trick” one of your fellow members into reading your resume and ask them for comments. We are a totally helpful group of individuals and it will be hard to stop ourselves if you honor us with a request for our advice.
Presenting your credentials orally is called a 90-second announcement. Again, there are materials available in lots of places to get yours in good order, and there is a secret place where you can practice – it’s called your local virtual chapter meetings. I personally feel this is a most important aspect of job search and I spend most of our meeting time here in Connecticut helping members improve. Any good presentation can be made even better with a little “off Broadway” show. Again, everyone at our meetings tries to help.
The final piece that most career coaches offer is access to a database of potential employers or networking contacts. If I haven’t mentioned it before (only 100’s of times), or if you have been asleep at the switch so to speak, The FENG has 37,000+ members all neatly arranged in a membership directory that is eminently searchable using our Member Directory Search feature. If you can’t find 50 qualified individuals who based on your background would welcome a chance to talk to you, please give me a call and I’ll give you some pointers about how to set your search criteria. We don’t allow mass mailing. Personal notes are the order of the day.
The truth is that most of us are specialized by reason of geography, industry experience or area of expertise that speaking with EVERYONE in The FENG wouldn’t make any sense anyway. A target company list would of course help. These are just firms that would make sense for your background, not places where you may actually get a job. If you contact people who have worked at firms you would target, you can’t help but have something in common. Conversation with like-minded individuals can’t help but lead to networking contacts.
Job search is something you need to learn to be gainfully employed until YOU want to stop. If you let someone do it for you, you will continue to be unprepared for the reality of today’s job market. Even the youngsters are changing jobs frequently.
So, unless you have a firm belief in the silver bullets and/or the tooth fairy, please accept the fact that most of the promises you hear about how for a measly $10,000-$25,000 or more of your hard earned dollars they will help you find a job, I hope you will run, not walk to the nearest exit and keep a firm grip on your wallet and/or checkbook.