Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Job Market For Boomer Executives

According to career pundits and the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s harder for older workers to land a job than it is for their younger counterparts.

But when it comes to top executives, I’m not convinced that’s the case.

While government statistics show that 75% of people, ages 25-54 secure new jobs within a year as compared to 61% of workers between 55 and 64 – those figures don’t break out jobs by level. By lumping the most senior executives into the same pot as the folks on the factory floor, the metric becomes skewed. There’s always a need for experienced and accomplished leaders.

Myth buster

A few years back, the top management of a global insurance company that had recently acquired another insurer contacted me, requesting a consulting team of senior HR professionals to coordinate the talent integration of the two companies.

About a dozen phone calls later, the team was in place and at my office. In addition to outstanding credentials, these four men and two women – all of whom I had known for over a decade, had four things in common.

1. Each had been part of a workforce reduction

2. All had held key positions in the HR departments of large, well-known companies

3. Each was willing to work on the project, but all wanted to resume full-time work

4. Their average age was 54, with none under 50

Our team spent the next 120 days working on talent assessment and integration. After the project concluded, they resumed their job campaigns, continuing their weekly meetings at my office. Within six months, every single one was reemployed. And each one landed a position either running or being a key player in a sizeable HR department.

Boomer tactics

Why were these older execs successful in spite of the naysayers? Two words … smart campaigns.

Specifically, they followed these five steps.

1. They didn’t go after the kinds of jobs appropriate to someone half their age. Years of experience and knowledge were emphasized, not diminished.

2. They carefully targeted companies. Only those businesses whose needs closely matched their skills and accomplishments were considered.

3. They intensively researched those companies to identify specific problems and opportunity areas where their skills and experiences could make a measurable difference.

4. They identified the top decision makers, networked directly into them and presented a persuasive business case for their hire.

5. They prepared thoroughly for interviews, elicited useful feedback, judiciously followed up on all leads and were always “professionally” persistent.

A simple equation

Job finding, at any age, is about matching your skills, abilities and experience with a company’s needs.

The greater the company needs ... the more important the level of experience.

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