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Senin, 30 Agustus 2010

How to Position Yourself For Success Even If You Are Over 50 and a Woman!

Economic factors have caused companies to downsize or even close their doors, and you may find yourself without a job - and you are an older professional in a market that is looking to cut costs by hiring younger and lower-paid employees. Not quite sure what direction to take? Perhaps you are wondering if your experience, skills and abilities are not what companies are looking for? Or, you may find yourself competing with younger people for the same job - how do you posture yourself to be marketable and sought after in such a competitive arena where there are more job hunters than jobs?

One concern that many professionals over 50 think about is their age - is it relevant? Well, age and gender bias does exist, but you can overcome that if you are prepared and know what you can bring to a company. Statistics* have shown, that younger employees tend to change companies more often, whereas more mature and stable professionals tend to stay and decrease the turnover rate, which bites into the profitability of a company. This is a known factor in companies who want to increase their retention rates and lower their human capital investment costs. Thus, knowledge of a prospective company's turnover rate and the reasons for it, can give you a stronger and a more solid reason to establish yourself as a professional with a track record of stability, experience, and longevity in the work field.

Many companies are realizing that they need a balance between older and younger employees to create a retention strategy. Does that mean you are in a better position to get that job over a younger person? It depends on what the company is looking for at that time, and if the Human Resources person is younger, you will have to overcome instant age and possible gender bias and focus on the reasons why they should hire you. To accomplish that, catalog your inventory of experience, abilities, skills and qualifications. Look for gaps, areas where you need to update your skills and bring them current.

Once you know your distinctive and marketable skills, you can do the following to increase your chances of finding the right job:

1. Hire a Resume Specialist:To increase your chance for an interview, make sure your resume, or bio and cover letter are polished and professional as you want to present yourself. If you are not sure how current resumes and cover letters are styled, invest in a professional resume writer, or specialist who can help you with identifying additional skills and talents that you may have not thought of. Since they do this for a living, most likely they will be on top of the most current keywords, skill needs, and other areas that you may not be aware of.
2. Do your market research: Keyword searches on the internet will help you identify the kinds of companies that will view your experience and skills as relevant to their business needs. Companies who are looking for experience and higher retention rates may address their demographic needs by using keywords to attract a base of talented and mature professionals. Look at the average age of employees in a company, and length of employment. This can also help you in understanding where the higher level positions are and how to seek them out if they target more experienced and mature professionals in key leadership roles within a company.
3. Make sure to keep your professional skills current: Language, basic math and the ability to communicate in a business environment are primary skills older professionals have attained and polished over the years, but it's not enough. Social media, online networking, current software and applications along with other programs and databases including email marketing and other forms of engagement are part of the skills you want to make sure you are savvy in. Being able to know what a department uses in terms of technology and the ability to apply it yourself will be a major factor in today's global economy. List the various technology platforms that you are proficient in, and software packages you can use. If you can't use a computer, maybe you should consider taking a class. Continuing education is essential today, as boomers will continue to work and you will need to be able to progress in the marketplace, no matter how old you are.
4. Network, Network, and continue to Network: Positions at upper levels are most likely not advertised, therefore your networking is going to be key for a mature professional looking to find or change positions or career paths. Social media is a strong method and allows for connecting with professional organizations such as LinkedIn, social media communities like Facebook and Twitter can give you a platform to network from as well. The more engaged you are, the more likely someone will see you and be willing to introduce an opportunity they know of, and/or introduce you to their connections. You can also contact former colleagues and employees at companies that interest you. Find opportunities in your community to volunteer or join the board of a local organization. Again, local professional chapters that have meetings are another way to expose yourself to opportunities in your community and provide a platform to showcase your experience and abilities.
5. Spotlight your achievements, not your age: Focus on your strengths. Position yourself as someone who can get the job done and who can bring an attractive package to the table with your qualifications. Never apologize, joke about or assume that your age is an issue. Don't even bring it up, and definitely leave it off your resume. You may even think about not putting the actual dates on your resume, CV, or Bio so that you can get past the potential age bias that would be evident. It could suck the wind out of a potentially positive interview. Instead, let all your wisdom, experience and skills stand out. You bring a lot to an organization including stability, leadership skills and experience. If the company sees only the value in immediate cost savings that a younger employee can offer, it will be up to you to redirect their thinking and show them the value in improving their retention rate, attract experienced professionals, and convince them that your skills are more cost effective, all of a sudden age becomes less important.
6. Dress as a Professional: The finishing touches - the last 10% is the most important. Having a great resume in hand, interviews lined up - be sure you look as professional as you say you are on your resume.

Dress for success! Dress as a confident professional! Dress as the Winning Woman you are!

*Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment

Founder & First Lady of The Winning Woman Network, Monika Shaw is an Entrepreneur with several businesses, CEO over a multi-million dollar company, won the battle over Breast Cancer, and a mentor to women.

From her personal and business experiences, she shares rich encouragement and refreshment to the spirits of women who need to hear that they can be who God designed them to be - a Winning Woman!


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