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Planning Retirement Online

A Guide to Job Searching in Later Life

Part 1 - Planning your campaign

In this guide Don Wilde gives  the benefit of his extensive experience in outplacement and career consultancy to help laterlife visitors plan, prepare and increase their chances of finding and gaining the right job in later life.

If you haven't already done so read Don's Introduction and the introduction to his initial section on Planning your Campaign below, covering the 'Logistics and Nature of the Search Activity' and 'An Analysis of Yourself'.

These and Don's other sections provide a comprehensive guide to job search and  finding and gaining the job that suits you.

Planning Your Campaign

The last thing to do when mounting a job search campaign – however “desperate” you are - is to rush straight into to responding to adverts, contacting agencies etc without first stepping back, taking stock, and preparing what you are going to do and how. This relates both to the logistics and nature of the search activity, and to the analysis of yourself that defines what it is that you are selling to (and buying from) potential employers.

Logistics and Nature of Campaign

Probably the two key requirements for success are having sufficient time to devote to your job search, and keeping a positive mental attitude (PMA). Ironically, if you are currently without work, you will have lashings of time but may well lack the PMA, whereas if you are IN employment you will have far less time but may have no reason for not feeling positive.

Time commitment. To be optimally effective, job search needs to be conducted on a “full time” basis. If you ARE currently out of work, look upon the activity as being your job, although unpaid. Set aside a defined time period each day – maybe 10 to 3.30 – during which you will working at job search. Go to a specific part of the house (study/PC room if you have the luxury) for that period. Arguably, it also makes sense to adopt something approaching your normal business dress – as opposed to jeans and sloppy sweater – as this all helps to retain the feeling of work ethic in you.

Positive Mental Attitude.  This may be exceedingly difficult for you if, for example, you have just been made redundant – but it is vital that you feel positive and good about yourself if you are to sell yourself positively to others. So do whatever it takes - relaxation techniques, discussing your situation with others, emptying the bucket of anger or angst – to achieve as high a PMA as you can.

Get yourself organised. You will require a variety of resources at one stage or another – equipment including desk, PC, telephone, and printer, and consumables such as quality paper and envelopes. You will need a simple record keeping system so that you can monitor all the applications (or even enquiries) that you make, and progress them throughout (an important point here is to keep all documentation/correspondence to hand, including a copy of the actual version of your CV that you send to each potential employer).

Approach in stages. There are clear steps to finding your next job, and the campaign is easier if you mount it in a staged way (eg do not start worrying about preparing for interviews before you have even responded to a vacancy). In general, you will start by defining/assessing yourself, then produce your collateral (particularly the CV), then approach the market to seek opportunities, then apply etc etc. This is NOT to say that you approach each organisation in a “linear” fashion and wait for each advert to produce an outcome before moving on to the next application!!

Target setting. If you are currently without work, the campaign will probably have a degree of urgency. It makes sense to keep some pressure on yourself by setting some targets on, for example, the number of applications to be made each week, the number of networking contacts to follow up each month etc. The targets may well need recasting in the light of experience but, assuming that you set them at a challenging level, they should keep you at it and help the PMA as well.

Establish your network.  We will discuss the importance of your network in a later section, in terms of those people you know who may be able to help with advice or information or, ultimately, a potential job lead. At an early stage of the process you should start to work on producing your comprehensive network list and prioritising within it. The list will grow all the time as new names occur to you – but start now!!

Finance.  You must establish very quickly what your financial parameters are. If you are out of work, it is necessary to know how long you can last in that state and hence put some time constraints around the search. Whatever the reason for your search, you must give thought to potential salary – what is your optimum, your acceptable, and your minimum level? You are not going to broadcast these figures to potential employers, but you need the numbers to be well thought out and understood by you.

Reviewing.  As with any major project or campaign, our chances of achieving the right outcome depend on reviewing progress as you go forward. Not only the specific targets mentioned above, but also our success in each phase. For example, what proportion of CV’s are getting an interview? In particular, as you will see in the later section on interviews, it is vital to review how you do in each meeting as soon as possible afterwards – and to seek feedback where possible when unsuccessful.

Most people will succeed in finding themselves a job, with or without the words of advice above. But if we are to ensure that we obtain the right job, and as soon as possible, then we cannot put too much effort into how we plan and start out on our campaign in the first place. you might also find it helpful to read our Guide to Part Time Jobs.

Don Wilde, the writter of this Guide, has many years experience in outplacement and career consultancy, latterly on a self-employed basis but prior to that within the IT industry. He has experience in a variety of human resources, business and project management, and staff development roles.
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