Retired Before Your Time? Three Hot Job Search Tips in a Down Economy

Your employer may have “retired” you out of your job, and the current recession dictates that you must work. However, you’re at an age where conventional wisdom says you’re unemployable. Here’s how to get your creative juices going and have some fun with these recession-busting job hunting tips for the temporarily retired job-seeker:

Copyright (c) 2009 Lin Schreiber

You’ve been told you’re “retiring”, and while you certainly don’t want to stop working, with the state of the economy, you now have to work.

Your confidence is badly shaken, the job market is shrinking, and you’re at an age where conventional wisdom says you’re unemployable. Make you want to give up? Don’t!

While you can’t do anything about the diminishing number of jobs out there, you can confidently fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Throw out all those boring, conventional ways to go about getting a job. The expression “If you never stick your neck out, they’ll never see you above the crowd” was never truer.

So, get your creative juices going and have some fun with these recession-busting job hunting tips:

1. Be Ageless. If you think your age is going to be a problem, I guarantee you it will be. If you can focus on all that you have to offer and be confident in that, you’ll be golden.

When I first moved to Boston, I decided an internship was my best entre into local TV. I was in my early forties, and yes, anyone I would be interning with would be at least half my age, but it never occurred to me that my age would be a road block.

Being interviewed by a cocky 20-something male at the new Fox station, I was floored when he asked me if I wasn’t “a little long in the tooth” to be going for an internship. I calmly told him that I had sat on his side of the desk, and if I had my choice between a 20-something whose primary concern was who she was going out with on Saturday night, or someone like me who had 20 years of solid business experience to bring to the table, I’d hire me in a heart beat.

On my way out, he told me he’d like me to meet his boss, because I was so “fantastic”. I told him, I was going to Channel 5 where they appreciated “age”!

2. Get Rid of the Box. In my 30s, I was living in New York City, running my own marketing and public relations firm, and getting a little bored.

My life-long dream of acting was bubbling to the surface again, so I signed up for some classes, and plunked down $ 300 for an AFTRA card (in those days, the only requirement for eligibility.) To be eligible for my SAG and Equity cards, I needed three days of extra work or one principle role in an AFTRA production. I figured getting a principle role was a long shot, so I decided to go for extra work on one of the 9 soap operas being produced in the city.

Now, “the” way of doing that was to send your headshot and resume to the casting directors, and then follow that up with a weekly postcard with your head shot for the rest of your life, or a hundred and twelve years, whichever came last.

I figured I had nothing to lose by being totally outrageous. I had custom fortune cookies made that said “For extra work, call Lin at 555-1212.” I filled Chinese food cartons with the fortune cookies, placed each box in a brown paper bag, and stapled each bag with a sheet from my local Chinese delivery place, and spent two days hand-delivering them around town.

At the end of the first day, I arrived home to this message from the casting director of All My Children: “Lin, you are totally insane, and I just have to meet you. Call me ASAP.” Within two months, I had my SAG and Equity cards.

3. Be Bold. My TV internship led to work at the local ABC affiliate. I really wanted to work at the PBS station, and everyone “knew” that it was impossible to break in.

Once a week, I’d go through their job book. I applied for some Production Assistant jobs, and was convinced after my first interview that it would take years to work my way up to Producer there. I turned down the offer.

Then, one week, there it was — a producer slot on a national quiz show that had never been done there before. I, however, had done the EXACT job at Channel 5.

I interviewed. I interviewed a second time. After a week when I hadn’t heard back, I called to find out that I was still in the running. Instead of sitting back and nervously waiting, I got pro-active.

I bought a mannequin leg and outfitted it with a black and white striped thigh-high sock, tied with a big red bow at the top. I added a card that said: “Let me get my foot in the door. You won’t be sorry” and hand-delivered it to the station. The next day, I got the job!

Later, my boss told me she really wanted a producer from New York or Los Angeles. When she received my package, she realized she had someone who could do the job and wanted to be in Boston, and she’d be crazy not to hire me.

Remember, this is the perfect time to create work that you love, work that is aligned with your values, working with people you enjoy. It’s possible. You just have to keep your eye on the prize, and step out of your comfort zone!

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