How Should People in their 40s Go About Their Job Search?

How Should People in their 40s Go About Their Job Search?

Bernard Lim: How different should the strategy of an individual in their 40s be if they were let go versus voluntarily wanting to find another job?

Adrian Choo: We always believe that you [should] try to avoid getting let go [retrenched] as much as you can. You can do it by being career-agile. The more agile you are, the more responsive you are to changes and opportunities. When you are retrenched, you are in a different state of mind. You will start to panic and any job may look good to you. You are compelled as a victim of circumstance to get the next job rather than [taking the initiative] to look for better alternatives right now in [the comforts of] your current job. The strategy when you are in your 40s is to never be complacent. Assume that something bad [retrenchment] can happen. If you don't have a contingency plan in place, you should start building one. In fact, what I always challenge our clients is to ask yourselves three questions: What would you do if you [are] retrenched tomorrow, do you know which companies will hire you and do you know the people in those companies?

Howie Lim: So the job strategy for an over 40s [individual] is different for those in other age groups?

Adrian Choo: Yes it is. For instance, [those in their] 20s are relatively [less costly to hire]. They are fighting against a rather homogenous market because everyone else is fresh and they are starting out at the same level. But when you are in your 40s, you are [also] competing against the younger people who are probably more savvy in the technology space and probably have more energy than you. [Other than] fighting against other fellow human beings, you’re also fighting against technology like AI, the environment where the landscape is changing and the shift in demand for skills.

Bernard Lim: Talk us through some top line strategies, in terms of crafting your resume, upskilling, etc.

Adrian Choo: You should realise that you are hired for your skills and these skills determine your pricing and demand. So you [should] deepen your skills and be the expert in what you’re doing and know it very well. You [should] find out how you can deepen your skills, [for instance] going for more courses. Think about upskilling - What can your bosses do that you can’t do today? Think about cross-skilling, which is doing what your colleagues can do that you can't. For instance, if you are in the Sales department, think about what the finance guys can do [that you can learn] so you become multi-faceted. With more skills, you become the person who is less likely to get fired.

Howie Lim: But you do have to look at your CV as well, right?

Adrian Choo: If you look at your CV right now, I can bet that the segments which were in your earlier parts of your career have been sitting on your CV for the past 15-20 years, unchanged. So that is version 1.0 of your CV and as you get another job, you just [keep adding it on]. You need to review your CV, in fact, reboot your CV, throw it away and start from scratch. Start from the voice of who you are today looking back at what you did 15 years ago. It’ll [give] a different voice, tonality and vocabulary.

Howie Lim: What are some of the myths and truths about job searching in your 40s?

Adrian Choo: The biggest myth around 40 somethings in their job search is that they are still operating on [Year] 2000, 2005, 2010 methodology of job search, which means looking for job ads such as in newspapers. The new job search methodologies involve using LinkedIn, networking and positioning. It can be quite complex and if you don’t know how to play the new game of job searching, you’re going to be very disappointed. For example, if you are sending out 200 CVs, you are not applying but spamming. That is very dangerous because you are not going to get any traction. You [may] start getting into a spiral of despair and could become hard to get out of. So, you can [consider to] talk to career experts who can help you rather than doing it on your own.

Listen to the full podcast and find out what are the trends in the space for those in their 40s and how can they ride these trends.

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For more of Adrian Choo, listen to his podcasts here.

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