If you listen to some job reports, embarking on a job hunt in today’s market is not only challenging for the average job seeker, but also downright daunting if you are over 50. Those odds, seemingly ranging from slim to none, have many workers 50 and over defeated before they even have a chance to start looking. But this perception is simply not accurate. In fact, the job outlook for seniors is very bright, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS projections for seniors for 2006-2016 are more than favorable. According to BLS projections:
“The number of workers between the ages of 65 and 74 is predicted to soar by 83.4 percent between 2006 and 2016. Similarly, the number of workers aged 75 and up is predicted to grow by 84.3 percent. By 2016, workers age 65 and over are expected to account for 6.1 percent of the total labor force, up sharply from their 2006 share of 3.6 percent.”
The BLS reports that the number of workers 65 and up is soaring.
Having a Great Coach Is Essential
Getting those jobs takes more than luck. It takes The Five O’Clock Club methodology and the right career coach. Five O’Clock Club Master Coach Bill Belknap is a seasoned expert in coaching older, toptiered professionals and getting them back into the job market. When Bill arrived at the Club, he had been an HRSVP with several top companies, hiring dozens of workers over 50, plus he had over 30 years as a career coach.
“Older workers are a much more desired talent pool than you may think,” he affirms. “People hit their stride later in life and bring with them stellar experience and skill sets that make them eligible and attractive to managers. Those who are not getting hired have failed to stay on top of their game–it’s not because they are 50 or 60. I say to my clients, whether you or 22 or 62, you have to remain current: keep your skills sharp and acquire contemporary experience. If you’re from the precomputer era, take a computer course.” Precomputer era, take a computer course.”
While ageism is not a myth, Bill believes most people bring the negatives on themselves: “There are multiple factors you need to be paying attention to apart from skills and abilities; appearance, contemporary experience and a positive attitude are on that list. Some people let themselves go, creating impediments to their own success: get in shape, if you are not, and stay in shape so you are not only skilled, but also presentable. Grooming is important. No one will hire you if you walk into an interview with the wrong body language: smile, look youthful and upbeat. These are the workers who are getting hired, young or old. Older workers have a good chance of landing a job if they have the right skill set and have done what managers are looking for. It is an entire package that they pay attention to.”
Bill is upbeat on the outlook for older workers: “For all the job market uncertainty today, there are still opportunities for Americans over 50. Whether you have been shown the door or have
decided to change your career, there are options if you know where and how to look.” The Club’s methodology and its unique hands-on approach are paying off. During the past year, Bill has had 37 clients over 50 land jobs. “Experienced managers are always looking for workers who know how to do things,” he says. Here are a few of the successful over-50 job hunters that Bill has helped put back into the workforce.
If you’re over 50 (or 60), staying current and looking good are vital to landing a job.
Robert Peterson: Quickly Networking Back into His Field
Robert Peterson, an architect, is a prime example of the type of skilled worker that Bill Belknap is talking about. At age 57, Robert found himself out of work after being at one job for 34 years. “I was recruited out of college to work for an architectural firm and had a wonderful career there until I was let go when they were hit hard in the recession.” Robert had no idea what to do since he was lucky to have had a job for such a long time: job hunting was new to him.
His firm provided him an outplacement package with The Five O’Clock Club, which gave him a running start. Anxious to get back in the job market, Robert immediately started listening to the CDs and pouring over the Club’s books. He felt very comfortable with Bill, and they immediately went to work using the Club’s methodology, developing a targeted résumé, doing the assessment exercises and networking. Robert found the Seven Stories especially helpful in charting his job search and career options. “I liked the Seven Stories approach because it is a great way to reflect on what is important and meaningful. It also put into context what I found enjoyable and fulfilling, and that helped me decide to stay in my field.” Because Robert had been in his industry for so long and had made so many contacts over the years, networking was the logical choice for him. However, he took a systematic approach as if he were transacting business for a company. “I took on this task as if it were an architectural project, only this time I was selling myself, not the firm,” he says.
Robert had two offers within only two weeks with the Club. He says he owes his success to the Club’s methodical approach and expert coaching.
He followed the methodology, which taught him how to set targets in his field: he got the word out to about 800 contacts, people with whom he had worked over his 34 years at the firm. His plans quickly took shape. “I started tracking multiple pursuits. Friends and acquaintances were telling others of my circumstances, and before too long, two offers came while I was still working on organizing my portfolio, streamlining my résumé, and fine-tuning my pitch.” He had the two offers within only eight weeks of joining the Club. “I had a choice of two firms: a large one similar to my previous employer and a smaller firm. For a change, I went with the smaller firm, bu more importantly, I am back in the field I love, as a principal in an architectural firm.”
Robert owes his rapid success to the Club’s methodical approach and Bill’s expert coaching. “Bill energized me to participate in my weekly small group where about seven or eight of us would share information and the strategies we were using. Although they were from different fields, the group members all had much to offer from their varying professional backgrounds, which only added to the pool of information.” Bill did something else: “The moment I signed up with the Club, he put me in touch with another client of his who is an architect. He shared information on how he prepared his résumé and networked with contacts, which was very insightful.”
It all worked out so quickly for Robert. He thought he would have time to take long vacation before beginning his job search. “I was a bit shocked when I was notified of the downsizing and thought I should take a vacation with my family and then return and start looking.” However, the moment he started reading the Club’s books and listening to the CDs he was anxious to test the techniques. “Much to my surprise, I not only had two interviews, but the two offers and a new job within a short space of time. I am lucky because there are others out there with a similar background and skills, but who have not been successful. I would just like to leave them with three words: Network! Network! Network!” Robert not only got a job quickly, but he found a great job: “The new job is excellent. I simply love it.”
Steve had been hired multiple times in his 50s and 60s and feels that if it comes to that, he could even be hired in his 80s.
Steve Smith: Landing a Job at 68
Steve Smith, a non-profit manager, is destroying the myth that workers in their 60s are not employable. He landed a new job at age 68. Steve was working in education and the dynamics of his job had changed. So he was ready to test new waters at age 68. “The mandate changed, there was a new manager on board and I felt out of place with the new direction of the organization. So, I put the word out that I was looking for a change.”
He had been hired multiple times in his 50s and 60s and feels that if it came to that, he could even be hired in his 80s. All his job changes were his own choice. While he knows that ageism exists in the job market, it hasn’t been a problem for him from his 50s on. “You need to keep it real,” he says. “You have to seek out employers who will hire you: employers who will respect you and not question your capabilities. That’s how I made full use of the principles of targeting and networking laid out in the Club’s methodology. The methodology gave me a huge boost by helping me to reconstruct my résumé, refine my job search and equip me with the necessary presentation and interviewing techniques. Everything else was up to me to get that second interview and land that job.”
Those who want to stay in the same field and have a strong network can rely on networking (using the name of someone else to get in). Those who want to change fields, or who do not have a strong network in those fields, are more effective when they do research and directly contact people in those fields.
Coach Bill Belknap was a tremendous help in keeping Steve on course. Bill always advises older workers to stay current. To remain competitive, Steve took a course in non-profit management, which he said prepared him for the next phase of his working life. “It’s important to take every opportunity to be hired, knowing how competitive the job market is.” Steve notes that this is not a magic formula: “There was just one occasion when I felt that my age was a factor. I once walked into an interview where the hiring manager was about my daughter’s age. The energy was negative, but I was not deterred. I moved on and the very next interview produced a positive result. There I was, starting a new job at age 68!”
He says that it’s all about presentation. Steve admits that he does look youthful, but has taken other positive steps too, like keeping in shape and staying current with job market trends and demands. “I am not above adding a bit of color to my hair: it takes about 20 years off my looks. I have kept my computer skills sharp, and also educated myself on the non-profit area I was targeting.” This precisely follows Bill’s mantra.
“You need to keep it real. You have to seek out employers who will hire you: employers who respect you and not question your capabilities.”
There is one thing this successful over-65 job hunter wants to impart to those in his age group: “Get to know the people in your present organization. This will help with your networking. Even younger workers can help because they can always recommend you to someone they know. Finally, it is about you. No one will hire you because you are in your late 60s’: they are influenced by your appearance and demeanor.”
Nadine Young: A Successful Career Switch at Nearly 60
Nadine Young, an International Finance Lawyer, was approaching 60 when she was working in the London office of the company that recruited her out of law school in 1977. She had started out with the firm in the U.S., and was offered a position in their London branch. “I worked in London for many years, put my daughter through college, and enjoyed every minute of it,” she says. However, her law career came to an end in 2009, when the company started downsizing. She was offered an outplacement package with The Five O’Clock Club, plus a generous severance package, and was on her way back to the U.S. She felt it was time to return to her family – and do something different.
Nadine did not know what to expect from the job market in the U.S., but she knew that the Club has a reputation for putting adult workers, who are not interested in retiring, back in the job market.
“I was hopeful,” she said, “because I had never experienced the discouragement of a job search.” Nadine was not overly anxious about where or when she would land her next job for another reason. “I thought I could relax with my job search because I had resources that could carry me for a year or so. However, when I received the books and CDs from the Club, I could not put them down. I read them all and was completely persuaded by the methodology. I homed in on the targeting, the strategies for getting meetings, the systematic approach, having goals, setting expectations, and measuring success.”
“I thought I would relax for a while. But when I received the books and CDs from the Club, I could not put them down.”
She was in Bill Belknap’s small group. “I would listen to the stories of others, how their search was going and was inspired by the progress they were making.” She decided that the next chapter of her life would be working as a real estate lawyer for a non-profit company. “I began targeting non-profit organizations. I decided that after all these years in the corporate world, I could use that experience with an nonprofit organization that would appreciate what I had to offer. I targeted organizations that built housing for poor people.” She used the methodology to strategize her targets, researched the names of organizations that interested her, and sent a number of letters to them. She heard back from two of them. “I could not believe I got the job I wanted, as a real estate lawyer for a non-profit that builds housing for poor people – and in the right salary range.” She started in October.
“I was not the best Five O’Clock Club student because I had no anxiety about finding a job immediately thanks to the generosity of my former employer,” she pondered. “Those who approach the job search more aggressively than I did would do even better – whether you are 16 or 60.”
Nadine met the director after she had sent a letter. The director invited Nadine to volunteer, which she did for several months. When the job opening occurred, Nadine was their favorite. And the first weeks were easier because she already knew everybody.
What surprises her, she says, is how effective the methodology is. “I have friends, in my age group, who are extremely competent, have brilliant careers, yet they are struggling with their job search. I really think The Five O’Clock Club methodology made a big difference with its structured approach and targeting, in particular, which worked best for me.”
Since she experienced such success with the methodology, Nadine has shared her Club books and CDs with her friends who do not have the benefit of outplacement. “They were spending so much time at their computers, just sending out résumés. I told them to get out and meet people.” More importantly, she told them to get away from the computer. “There is a lot of support for what I did in the books and CDs that I wanted to share with them. I believe if they combined their search skills with the methodology they would have a different result.” She attended 13 small group sessions and had five private hours with Coach Bill Belknap.
Nadine sent letters to certain not-for-profits and ended up as real estate lawyer for one of them after a lifetime in the for-profit area.
Duane Brueggemann: Like Winning the Lottery
For oil executive Duane Brueggemann, finding a job was like winning the lottery. He was a few years shy of turning 50 when he was laid off from his last position. In less than 6 months, and with the help of The Five O’Clock Club and Coach Bill Belknap, Duane found a job in his field.
Duane did not have to leave his former employer right away. He was offered other opportunities in the company, which he said were not comparable to his skills. “There were other positions available in the company but none of them were suitable, so I took a package that included outplacement with The Five O’Clock Club and left.”
Like many older workers, it had been easy for him to find new jobs throughout a long and successful career. “In my late 20s, I was recruited right out of college. Then I spent 15 years in the oil business, working my way up to VP. After that, I worked with a wireless equipment company for another 12 years, and that was where I was downsized. I did well in my professional career, moving seamlessly from one job to another. I never had to look for a job before, so this was a new experience for me and I didn’t know what to expect.” That made him hesitant about getting a new job: “I heard so many rumors and stories about how difficult it is to get back in the job market when you hit 50.” Duane was especially concerned about the myth that older workers may be forced into retirement before they are ready. However, Bill Belknap and the Club’s methodology soon allayed these fears. “I worked with Bill to fine tune my résumé. I began networking, getting the word out to contacts I made during my previous employment, and discovered that my background and the skill set I built up over the years were still marketable.”
He started his new job in October as VP, General Manager, for a company that was soon bought out by a Fortune 500 giant. He was fortunate because he had all of his options vested. After the takeover, he was made VP of Finance. Within 6 months, he not only had a new job, but a great one. He says of his new position: “I could not be happier.”