Successfully finding a job

Discover which job search methods work best in finding a job.

After 50, the chances of you finding a job through what might have been considered the traditional methods such as advertisements reduces  considerably. However there are advantages that you can use too.  Over the years you will have built up a network of contacts  – and networking definitely works better when you are older.

Job adverts

Adverts both in newspapers and online may not be the most effective method for finding a job. Considering the large number of applications and the rather cavalier attitude in selection by a real person, or randomness of a computer, the reality is that the smallest deviation from the requirements in the job spec may mean rejection. 

Online applications

Online applications are programmed to reject you if you choose one answer they are not looking for. And that’s after you have spend an hour filling one out. And talk about impersonal. I have seen evidence in may cases that no human even looks at your application. One computer looking over the shoulder of another computer -how nice!

When you do prepare your resume at least make it look as interesting and creative as possible - anything that draws attention and makes it stand out. And NEVER include it as an attachment. Put it in the body of your email instead.

Nobody wants to open an attachment. You've heard of viruses? Many company computers simply put messages with attachments straight into their junk mail or a pending file until, or unless, someone claims it – which is unlikely.

Recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies are having the same difficulty you are having in finding  jobs. In today’s economy, many employers would rather not pay an agency  finder’s fee – they’ll use computer lists, adverts or word of mouth to get the word out.

Recruitment ads

If you have ever seen an ad in the paper put there by an agency for the perfect job for you and you phone up at 1 minute past 9 on the day the ad came out, you will often find that that job has been filled already. The ad may or may not have been genuine. Sometimes agencies put out ads for non-existent jobs. However the agency will take your details.

There is a two-fold purpose to their adverts. Firstly to attract prospective candidates, but secondly, and more importantly to attract employers who may be looking for staff and realize that this specific agency works for that sector. 

Once you have registered you do need to persevere to be noticed by the agency. If possible go into their office and get your face, and more importantly your personality noticed. You will no longer just be a name on a computer screen. 

Contact the agency regularly when finding a job but don’t ask ‘are there any jobs coming up?’ rather ask ‘what jobs have you put my name forward for in the past two weeks?’ This requires a bit of effort on the agencies part, they have to look up you file, hence remembering who you are, even if the answer is nothing doing just now. However some sectors do seem to use agencies more such as accountancy.


Networking is by far the most effective method of finding a job. This is especially true as you get older. You should  benefit from having so many more contacts than you had when you were young. Go to the networking for job success page for more information on how to network effectively.

The logic is simple. For an employer finding someone is easier because they come with a recommendation from someone who know you or knows of you. Networking can also save time as often companies wait until the last minute, perhaps just weeks before an employee leaves, to think about recruiting someone new and the full recruitment process can take a long time – up to six months with some organisations.

Cold calling

While harder work than networking when finding a job, sometimes being in the right place at the right time can just crack it. Whether your cold call is by knocking on doors, making a phone call or writing a letter,  research who you want to contact and know something about their business before making an approach.

Contacting HR can have much less success than contacting the person who heads up a department which you would be interested in working in. Find out the person’s name and write to them.

This tactic has worked very effectively for many of my clients, in particular those who are more mature. Whereas HR might put their name of file, or bin it because of age, the head of a department is more likely to be looking for experience. 

Contact an old guy or girl.

Do some research and find companies with CEO’s or owners older than you who are still very much active in the company. Over 70 is ideal. Find a way to make contact. Older people won’t consider you old. Even if they do, they know that older workers have value and appreciate your experience.

Write a real letter.

I recommend writing letters rather than emails. Everyone gets dozens of emails. Very few people get regular mail these days that isn't junk mail or a bill.So a real letter can come as a pleasant surprise.

Use multiple denominations of stamps on the envelope so that the envelope looks a little different than the rest of his mail. If you can, find an article about the industry they are in, include it as something you found that they might find of interest

If you enjoyed finding a job follow the links to:

 Networking for job success,

writing a resume/cv

Preparing for an interview

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