Unless you’re fresh out of university with some juicy internships under your belt and a parental safety net to fall back on, job hunting can be scary. That’s even more true with you’ve been employed with the same company for many years. It can feeling like dating again after many years of marriage, and you may worry that you’ve forgotten how.
Here are some things to know:
A social media presence isn’t just about entertainment
If you’ve worked for the same company since before the social revolution, you may not realize just how integral a social media presence is to the job hunt. Potential employers will search for you on the major networks. If you don’t already have accounts of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and – especially – LinkedIn, get set up right now. One concern prospective employers will have is that you haven’t kept up with things outside of your own little world. A strong social media presence will announce that you’re willing and able to keep up with the times.
Employers will fear “comfortable couch syndrome.”
One potential pitfall will be the stereotypical image of the guy in payroll who’s been doing the same job the same way for 20 years while the world passes by outside (throw in a few spider webs for good measure). It’s important to show that, even if you’ve been with the same employer for a long time, you’ve still been on a campaign of continuous self-improvement. Highlight any classes you’ve taken, especially any you signed up for on your own and not because your employer sent you. It’s also really important to highlight any changes in position, especially if they were promotions or lateral moves into different functional areas. The point is to show that, while you may have been with the same employer for a long time, you weren’t stagnant.
If you need to catch up, get moving!
If you worked for a small employer who tended to bring up the rear when it came to trying new things, you may not be up on the latest and greatest trends in your industry. Find out what thought leaders are doing, and think about how you’d like to apply those things. Be ready to talk about some specific recommendations to show you’re not just reciting what you’ve read somewhere.
Be ready for THE question
If you’ve been working at the same place for most of your career, it’s inevitable that you’ll be asked why you left. The content of your answer matters less than the how of your answer. You want to sound matter-of-fact, truthful, and confident all at the same time, and the last thing you want to do is portray yourself as a victim. Sure, it stinks to be laid off after busting your hind quarters for 25+ years, but nobody wants to hire somebody who feels sorry for themselves or obviously resents their previous employer. So keep it positive, be confident, and don’t let the words “not fair” cross your lips.
One more “don’t say…”
There’s one more verbal faux pas you need to watch out for: “But that’s not how we did it.” First of all, unless you’re still working for that company, there is no more “we.” Second, you don’t want to come across as inflexible and resistant to change. Instead, put a positive spin on it and say something like, “Wow, we had a different process, but yours sounds really interesting. Can you tell me more about how you do it?”
If you’re looking for a job after being employed for many years, you’re likely to feel depressed, scared, worried, confused, and maybe even jilted. Those are all legitimate feelings, but, legitimate or not, they aren’t going to help you land a job. Be confident, be forthright, be positive, and tell yourself that the world is a thrilling place and you’re about to see more of it!