One of the topics I have written about frequently is the issue of 50+ year-old job seekers who are not contemporary in their use of technology. The data is clear that job seekers who are 55 or older are taking a much longer time, i.e., eight months to find their next position. Our clients, who appear contemporary in their use of technology, are having no problem at all; in fact, two clients who received offers this week are both 64 – 65.
Those who do not appear contemporary are having a very difficult time. I know of two cases where individuals who were helped by family members in their electronic communications with their prospective employers, were quickly terminated once they were on the job and their lack of PC skills became apparent. Any job seeker not skilled in the below areas should make a secondary effort to their job search to gain these skills and adopt these practices:
Smartphones – the most obvious tell of one lacking contemporary skills is someone without a Smartphone to check email frequently. Two days to respond to an urgent or time sensitive email versus within a few hours is unacceptable. Imagine a recruiter emailing a job seeker about an interview the next day who does not hear back within a few hours – that resume is going in the trash.
Email appearance – with the exception of a quick reply from your phone, any lengthy email should be composed using Outlook or similar email client. The email should be in HTML, not Plain Text, and should have a Signature automatically inserted in mail with at minimum one’s cell phone number. All businesses are using Outlook with attractive Signatures and if you are not, your emails lack professionalism.
Microsoft Office – all job seekers must be able to complete a form sent in Word and return it attached to an email. One should also be able to create documents in Excel and PowerPoint.
Navigating the Web – though I find few people lacking Office skills, more common is difficulty navigating unfamiliar websites. Those of us of a certain age grew up when learning was rote and steps were memorized. Mastering Office taps those skills, but every single website is different from every other one. That requires “trial and error” learning versus rote learning. Therefore, one must patiently explore the site, figure out what to do and try the next step recognizing the site will provide error messages if incorrect. Most of us are doing our banking and bill paying online, Christmas shopping online, using Facebook and LinkedIn and have recognized each site is different. But an applicant who struggles to complete an online form sent by a prospective employer who calls the employer for help, is advertising their limited ability on the Web. Since companies have been doing employee timekeeping, expense reporting, benefit enrollment, conference room reservations, scheduling and supply ordering on the web for years now, the inability to complete an online form will be a show stopper.
Video screening – where phone screening candidates has been the norm for the past 15 years, increasing employers are using video screening, largely via Skype. New computers have web cams, microphones and speakers built-in; but if you have an older computer, you will need to purchase a web cam and headset and practice making Skype calls so you are ready when a recruiter or employer suggests conducting a video call.
Social Media – a complete LinkedIn Profile with hundreds of connections is an absolute essential. Increasingly, a professional Facebook presence adds value to a job search.
Everyday at ExecuJobs, the premier executive career marketing and coaching firm, we speak with executives who are amazed at how much the employment marketplace has changed since their last job search – even if that was less than five years ago, let alone ten or twenty years ago! Too often that discovery comes after months of frustrating effort and depleted savings or severance. Don’t make that mistake, contact ExecuJobs today at email@example.com and learn how our 21st century resumes, Career Web Portfolios: http://mycareerhighlights.com/2012/donald/#, PowerPoint ‘thank you letters’, use of LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markirich and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ExecuJobs/166541356724085 will ensure you successfully compete with younger executives.