Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Interview: Mary Eileen Williams Writes the Book on Landing the Job You Love Past 50

Joyce: I’m part of the well-over-50 generation, and I love doing occasional features aimed at fellow baby boomers. Eileen, I love your new book so much—Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50—I could not resist sharing with my Hot Flashbacks readers the wealth of your experience for “cool saging” job hunters. In today’s economy, I can’t imagine a book that’s more practical. You have many years of experience helping others as a job placement professional; and your blog, The Feisty Side of Fifty, helps people develop the attitude that will keep them in the work force for as long as they want.

What’s your approach to finding that dream job—and what makes your book unique?

Eileen: There are only a very few books aimed at jobseekers over fifty and many of them are focused on retirement options or reinventing yourself. To my knowledge, Land the Job You Love is the only book that provides step-by-step strategies to guide older applicants to turn their age into their advantage during the actual job search process.

There are, in fact, many pluses to being a mature worker. We just need to learn how to capitalize on these, present them in the right ways so that we distinguish ourselves from the competition, and create a marketing plan that will move our search forward to make us THE candidate of choice.

Joyce: What do you think is the single most important thing for a person to do to prepare themselves for job hunting as a more experienced worker?

Eileen: Actually there are several. As a successful jobseeker you’ll need to know how to:

• Identify and articulate your skills and back them up with winning examples.

• Network your way into targeted organizations and build key alliances.

• Create a strong and customized résumé that will grab attention and open the door to interviews.

• Prepare for questions that will likely be asked during an interview (including behavioral style questions), so that you build rapport, make a great impression, and get the offer.

• Know how to negotiate a win/win deal.

Boomers: A Cool Saging Conversation

Boom is the sound the baby generation makes when it explodes the old Old. TM

Joyce: We know it’s the résumé that gets a person’s foot in the door. How can we best present ourselves when we’re 50+ and competing with college kids?

Eileen: There is a certain type of résumé  format that I explain in great detail in the book. It’s the #1 way older applicants can present themselves on paper. This format is easy to customize to the position (important in today’s competitive job market). Key skills and accomplishments are clearly listed, and critical information is easy to spot within a 30-second scan. That’s about how long most résumé reviewers spend deciding if they’ll read through your résumé or not.

Joyce: How do you think the job landscape looks for people who want to keep working as long as possible? Is there a place for them in corporate America, in government jobs or the service industries—or should they retire early and use their baseline pensions and early Social Security to build a new, freelance career?

Eileen: I think there are plenty of opportunities out there for jobseekers over fifty. Aside from income needs, personal fulfillment is important at our age. Even though the traditional job market is slow, there are definite strategies you can use that will put you far ahead of the average jobseeker. And, don’t forget, baby boomers are a huge percentage of the working population.

In fact, workers over fifty represent one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce, so we fit right in. Our age truly can be an advantage.

Moreover, as our history demonstrates—we boomers are trailblazers—so we embrace options and opportunities. Some of us may choose to remain in corporate America while others may opt to take this time to live out their dreams and start their own businesses or give back to their communities through non-profit work. Each jobseeker needs to come up with five to ten top values that are important to him/her at this stage of life. Then they can take the next step and decide how they can best live out these values through their work.

Joyce: What have you learned blogging on The Feisty Side of Fifty that has helped you place people in our age group in the jobs of their dreams?

Eileen: I think the main lesson I’ve learned from blogging and interacting with the fifty-plus audience is that we’re still a dynamic, energetic, and forward thinking generation. Baby boomers have retained our zest for life and our positive, “change the world for the better” attitude. With the right techniques and a few insider tips, we can use this energy to land jobs we truly do love and continue to contribute, thrive, and make our mark in the world of work.

Joyce: Eileen, I love your sense of humor that shines through the Feisty Side of Fifty. What can we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously on the job quest? I’d imagine that the ability to laugh at times through the adventure of finding that perfect job over 50 is a great asset.

Eileen: You are so right about taking some time to lighten things up a bit. There’s no doubt about it—the job search can get stressful and you’ll need to expect a number of emotional peaks and valleys. So whatever you can do to recharge your energy and get some emotional distance on your job search will help.

Although most people out of work will be on a budget, there are a number of small and relatively inexpensive treats you can give yourself: spend time with friends, go to a movie, take a walk in the woods, and focus on those parts of your life for which you are grateful. Also, don’t forget about exercise, eating right, getting plenty of R & R, and enjoying a laugh or two. You’ll want to be energetic and positive when you network and, especially, when you interview. Be certain to do what you can to give yourself some extra special TLC—your attitude underscores every aspect of your search!

Joyce: As we wrap up this conversation on Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, do you have any final words of wisdom to add?

Eileen: I want midlife jobseekers to realize that the news is not as bleak as the media makes it out to be. Bad news sells, so that’s exactly what they sell! You can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. So learn the techniques and strategies that highlight your strengths and set you apart from the competition. You’ll save time, money, and frustration, and, before you know it, you just might land that very special job you love!

Joyce: Eileen’s book is for sale on both Create Space and Amazon.  Happy Dream Job Hunting--and Finding!


Mary Eileen Williams, M.A., NCC, has twenty years of combined experience as a career and life transition counselor, job search specialist, university instructor, and writer. As a Nationally Board Certified Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development, she specializes in working with job seekers in midlife and showing them the latest techniques for landing a job in the 21st Century. Over her career, Mary Eileen has worked with thousands of older applicants and knows the most effective methods to use to overcome the special challenges they face. By following her surefire strategies, you'll turn your age into an advantage and find yourself landing your next job in record time. Mary Eileen also hosts the popular blog and radio show "Feisty Side of Fifty."


Eileen Williams said...

Thank you so much, Joyce, for your great interview questions and helping me to spread the word that being over fifty and in a job search can be a positive and rewarding experience. There's so much bad news out there that I want my fellow boomers to realize our experience and skill sets are valuable, having a mature attitude and work ethic are appreciated, and that it just takes a bit of knowhow to sell yourself effectively in today's market. WIth the right tips and tools, you truly can turn your age into your advantage.

So, with wonderful friends and supporters like Joyce has been to me, you'll find yourself making contacts and moving forward in no time. Whether you're in a job search or not, friends do make the world go around. That's my hot flashback and cool insight. THANK YOU, Joyce!

Joyce Mason said...

Totally my pleasure, Eileen. This is the kind of information I want to shout from the rooftops. I agree that we get way too much bad news lately. It's refreshing to see someone put into action--and active advice--how the right attitude and "highlighting" can accentuate one's positives right into their dream job.