As a mature worker, you may not have thought you would be looking for work at this stage in your life. If you went straight from school into a job or homemaking, you may find today’s competitive labour market quite different than you expected.
You now need to actively seek out employment opportunities—both advertised and unadvertised. And you must learn to present yourself as the answer to an employer’s problems.
Fortunately, there are lots of programs, services, books, and other resources in your community that can help you with your job search.
As you go through the work search process, try to be:
- Your work search may take longer than you hope.
- You do not want your work search to take longer than necessary.
- Opportunities that are hard to find are often easier to get.
- Your best options may not be the obvious ones.
Get support in your work search
For current information and moral support, connect with people who can help with your search. You can find support through formal organizations and programs, as well as informal networking. If you have a mentor, you can ask them for advice and assistance with networking.
Some communities have support groups for job seekers. Members talk about their job search experiences and exchange information about resources, employers, and opportunities.
Work search programs and resources can help you:
- Find unadvertised employment opportunities
- Prepare and use work search tools such as resumés and cover letters
- Prepare for and handle interviews successfully
- Learn to negotiate the best possible salary and benefits
You might also consider setting up an advisory group for your search. Ask people you know and respect if they would be willing to help. They should have a positive attitude and be good at solving problems. With today’s advanced communication technology, they may not even have to live in your community.
Give your advisors a brief description of your background and skills. Tell them the type of work you want to find. Depending on your needs and preferences, and theirs, you may have regular meetings to report on your progress and gather suggestions or meet sporadically. But be careful not to take up too much of your advisors’ time. Contact them only when you need information or advice on a specific issue.
When you succeed in finding work, include your advisory group members in your celebration! And be prepared to return the favour when they need your support.
Use online resources
As well as connecting with people, take advantage of the many work search resources available online.
Alis is Alberta’s online source for career, education, and work information, including:
- Work search advice—articles, such as this one, that will help you make the most of your transition
- CAREERinsite—a one-stop guide to career planning, with online articles, quizzes and exercises, and Q&As
- OCCinfo—labour market information, including job descriptions, education requirements, salary information, employment and advancement opportunities, and projected growth data for more than 500 occupations
- Education and training—information on post-secondary education programs and schools, including apprenticeships
- Job postings—links to provincial, regional, and federal job banks, as well as Alberta job listings
Bookstores and public libraries often offer free Internet access for those who need it and also carry a variety of work search publications.
Talk to the people you know
Losing your job can be a real blow to your self-confidence. But unemployment is nothing to be ashamed of. Today, the labour market changes rapidly. Very few people reach retirement without going through at least one period of unemployment.
Instead of keeping your experience to yourself, share your ups and downs with family members and friends. You may be surprised at how much support and encouragement you receive, often from unexpected quarters. Recharge your batteries by spending time with people who are upbeat and supportive. If you can, avoid people who make you feel bad.
Talking to the people in your life can do more than make you feel better—it can get you a job. More people find jobs through networking than by any other work search method.
Focus on the upside
Few people would describe looking for work as fun. But, looking back, many people feel that having to make a midlife career move was the best thing that could have happened to them.
Think about how to make this change a positive one:
- Spend some time thinking about what is important to you
- Define what you want, now and in the future
- Explore your options with an open mind
- Face your fears and look for ways to overcome them
- Keep your eyes and ears open
- Take advantage of unexpected opportunities
- Keep learning new skills
- Gather information so you can make informed decisions
- Follow through on your plans
- Strengthen your current relationships and build new ones
Do everything you can to stay confident and keep a positive outlook. Take a break when you need to, but never give up. Your perseverance will pay off—perhaps in ways you would not have expected.