Over 40 and looking for a job? – You’re in a Shame Spiral?

FJS-Blog-Shame Spiral

Every time I see this picture I go to a bad place (that’s me with the hair!).  It’s even worse if someone else sees it.  I start to sweat, my heart races, I feel the need to start defending – it’s crazy.

I fall head-long into a “shame spiral.”

I was 14 in this photo and there were a lot of things going on in my young life, most notably my mother was battling cancer, my brother was in charge of driving her to and from Chemotherapy and I was an 8th grader trying to look normal and play it cool and fit in (it was hard with that hair!).

I only mention this so you know I am not ashamed of how ridiculous I look (it was the 80’s man) but it was the time, place and situation that I remember when I see this picture.

Earlier I mentioned falling into a Shame Spiral.  I learned this from Brene Brown, she’s awesome!  She is also mentioned often in our house.  If you are not familiar, she wrote a book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

In her book she writes, “Shame is something we all experience.  And while it feels as if shame hides in our darkest corners, it actually tends to lurk in all of the familiar places, including appearance and body image, family, parenting, money and work, health, addiction, sex, aging and religion.”

That’s a pretty big list and you might be thinking, “Yeah, so how does it affect me looking for a job?”

Well, if you look at many of the current practices prescribed to people when it comes to looking for a job, much of it relies on giving your “control” to someone else.  What I mean is, you are told to “be the person” a hiring manager wants to hire – not yourself.  You are told to spend time researching the company with little regard to “researching” yourself.  You are told to apply for jobs and wait, and wait and wait for someone to call you back.  Waiting for the phone to ring for that ideal job is painful and frustrating enough! When they don’t even take the time to send you or call you with a “thanks but no thanks”, that’s just brutal. You never get closure that they are indeed interested or not interested in you. You don’t get the answers you need to close that chapter and move on. You are left holding out hope for an opportunity well beyond a reasonable amount of time and where there was never any hope at all. I want for you to stop looking for a job, do the right work and go out and get hired for a job you are excited about!

Most of the things you are told to do while looking for a  job are actually stealing your identity and control and are leaving you with more questions than answers.  I believe that for the over 40 and unemployed population out there who have been working, providing, saving and thriving, not being able to find a job is a source of “shame.” If your Over 40 and Unemployed it’s time to Break Tradition!

I see it every day.  Very well presented candidates with amazing experience sit in my chair with hollow eyes, slumped shoulders and a palatable despair about the prospect of looking for a job.  They look to me like they are embarrassed and ashamed that they used to get calls from head-hunters for new jobs and now they can’t even get someone to call them back.

You need to be confident.  You need to be excited.  You need some good advice if you want to go out, pound the pavement and stop looking for a job but get hired for one!

The first thing you need to do is find someone you trust and tell them about your situation and how you really feel – no brave face here, be honest. Looking for a job is HARD!  Looking for a job is exhausting!  Looking for a job sucks and you need to find a confidant to share your feelings with – first.

Secondly, please stop spending time learning everything there is about potential employers, hiring managers and companies, that is looking for a job NOT preparing to get hired for one.  I want you to invest that time in YOU.  Find out who you are on a really deep level. Exactly what you love and want to do.  What type or role you are looking for.  How you want to be managed.  What you are selling (specific experience, potential or combination of both) and why you are going to work. Like Seinfeld says “If every instinct you have is wrong then the opposite would have to be right.

I have noticed many over 40 candidates when asked “tell me what is the most important thing to you when  looking for a new job?” They say it’s their career opportunity.  When challenged on this it usually ends up that what they define as career is really a great company that allows them to be home for dinner every night and that shares their values.  These things define the company you are looking for, not career!  Career is working 60 hours each week, weekends, going in early and coming home late.  Most of you have been there and done that and telling a hiring manager you’re willing or wanting to do it again doesn’t make sense for you or them.

Finally, once you have complete clarity on what you can offer an employer and what you require in return from an employer I want you to tell them exactly what those things are in every interview you go to.  Stop trying to tell them what you think they want to hear and START telling them what YOU WANT them to hear.

A few things will happen when you do this while you are looking for a job:

-you will walk out of every interview knowing you aced every question.  After all you told them what you want and need.

-you will know why they don’t call (if they don’t).  You told them exactly what you wanted to do and what you require to do it! If they can’t offer you what you need, they won’t be calling.  When you guess in an interview you will never know what you did wrong. This is the single biggest mistake people make while looking for a job.

-when they do call… you’ll get hired to do what you want to do!  How?  Well you told them what you have to offer and what you need in return, right?  So they have determined that they need your talents and can provide you with what you need.

There are so many talented people out there undervaluing themselves.  Do the work and find your value be fore you go back out and start looking for a job. Then, tell EVERY potential employer what it is, so they will HIRE YOU to do what YOU WANT TO DO!