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How to Start a Job Search at 55: The Waiting Period

This is Part II of Glen Bradley's blog series. Read Part III here.

If there is a silver lining to a job search, then it may be the time of self-reflection. It is just a natural point to look back on the experiences from the past and to understand again what is really important to you as a person and what brings satisfaction in terms of work and life. What I’ve learned about a job search is that one of the first recommended activities is to develop a personal brand statement. The creation of the image that defines you as a person or contributor and what “it is” that sets you apart.

I have to say that I found this to be a difficult concept at the start. I’m from a generation that predates selfies and it just seems that “tooting one’s horn” was frowned on by the generation ahead of us and we shied away from it. I began to work through the process and as difficult as it was at the start, I shifted gears somewhere and suddenly it seemed that I couldn’t turn it off. I found myself in the produce section thinking:

Glen Bradley is an experienced and demonstrated selector of the freshest, most succulent lemons. He has the unique ability to discern which zucchini will melt in your mouth as it makes its way to that most critical hosted dinner party.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t need that much nudging to get to this point. In addition to the branding statement, I continued to massage and scrub my LinkedIn statement until there was a level of satisfaction. I nibbled at my resume to choose better verbs and tightened up on phrasing. So there I am – all dressed up and waiting for a suitor.

But then a certain irony sets in. With all that work to put your best foot forward and despite the intense networking that you may be investing, there is the lonely wait. 
A day goes by and maybe someone viewed your profile on LinkedIn. Then another couple of days where the email inbox is sparse and your voicemail is begging for a message…and then a week goes by.

All the time spent putting our image in the best light can be toppled by the frustration of “the wait.”

This is a time where doubts can begin to eat away at our branding exuberance. It is a time I found that you have to connect with your personal values that drive (or should) drive your self-worth. For those of us who were in executive roles, it is easy for your mindset and value to be built on your job title and respect you’ve gained from your position. When it is taken away, it’s important to be able to fall back on true core values that drive our being.

As I seesawed between doubt and confidence, I was reminded of the one business book that I would say was truly career-altering for me. That is Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which is now amazingly twenty-five years old. There are no tips and techniques to be found here. No three ways to do this or top ten methods for that. The core of the book is about living inside out. We always have a choice when it comes to how we react to a situation. In a period of joblessness, it is really easy to react to circumstances, people, and our situation in a way that is governed by being the victim. Covey’s instruction is that we always have a choice when it comes to our attitude, our actions and to how we live out each day.

The email inbox is much quieter these days. The voice messages are few. There is no frantic gulping of lunch to make that 1 pm meeting. It’s easy to feel that you’ve lost relevance. But self-worth shouldn’t be built on a title or the job itself. It transcends the job and it starts by taking the focus off of “I” or my situation to others and how do I affect their situation. As Covey suggests, “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” May not be easy when in the throes of doubt, but I find if each day you make one or two attempts either in your marriage, or family, or with your colleagues in the job search, it begins to bend your confidence back to the person captured in the branding statement. For me, getting reacquainted with the seven core principles has been a cool drink in a time of reflection. Did I mention there is a silver lining in a job search?

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