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Is it age discrimination or your job search strategies?

A client who has been a successful job seeker in the past came to the office today to lament that she really thinks her problem is age discrimination. She hasn’t hit 50 yet and has just successfully completed an Associate Degree in Business Management to add to her arsenal of career achievements.

Is networking part of your job search strategy?

Her email to schedule the appointment gave me a clue as she said she was going to have to start networking and working with her contacts.

Upon finishing her degree, she had launched into a sales role that was primarily commission-based. Though she believed in the product, she found it hard to get on the phone to contact people to schedule appointments to discuss her product and services. After interviews with other competing companies who would have provided better training than her current position offered, she decided that sales is not what she wants to do with her next role.

Think about what things made you happy in past career positions

I remarked that I thought her happiest moment in her career recently was a role during school when she led a non-profit organization and positioned it for a special event.

Brought on board in February to start recruiting the volunteer force of 1200 volunteers for the event held in July and successfully achieved the goal of recruiting the full volunteer force before Mid-June.

I suggested that perhaps she look at something that would evoke the same excitement and connect her with event management or other non-profit work. She answered that two different people in her network were encouraging her to get involved with a new community project as a coordinator. Two people had suggested that she hurry to get her resume to them because she would be perfect for the job.

Even though she was pretty convinced that it was age discrimination, by the time she left my office, she conceded that perhaps not using her network was doing the most damage.

The reluctance that someone who doesn’t thrive in a sales role feels when making calls is the same reluctance that job seekers have when they need to contact network contacts or even just follow-up with someone they know.

It is very easy to blame something else when you have to do that hard thing. Studies have shown that even in this very difficult economic time, the successful job seeker is using their network to get access to the hidden job market. Are you making the effort to use your network?

P.S. This client landed the position as a Coordinator of a new community resource and has been making a difference in this project and is frequently seen in the media as the spokesperson for the project. She is enjoying the new challenge.

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Photo Credit: Celestine Chua

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