What's SWOT?

Job seeking in your mid-fifties can be just as intimidating as it was in your early twenties

"If I had a dollar (or ten, given the current cost of living) for every kind person who's told me not to worry, with my skills/experience/attitude, I'll get another job in no time… then I wouldn't need to be looking for another job."

This was what a recently-retrenched friend said to me over coffee last week. It got me thinking about the four principal factors to be considered when job-seeking; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – or (because I like acronyms) SWOT.

Realistically, all the skills, experience and positive attitude in the world will not get the middle-aged job seeker ‘across the line'.  There's no magic formula either. Job seeking in your mid-fifties can be just as intimidating as it was in your early twenties. Sure, you may have experience and qualifications. But a lot of people in this age group have been in the same job for a long time, often a decade or more, and there can often be some middle-sized gaps in their technical tool kit. And then, of course, there's the "age factor".

After years of providing advice to students undertaking Cert II, III and IV units on job seeking and career planning, I've decided there's no reason not to offer the same advice to the older job-seeker who's already midway through their career. So here is "Project Employment".

Step 1 – The "brainstorm and mind map" phase.  Ask yourself a lot of questions such as:

What do I want to do?

What are my interests?

What are my skills?

How many hours do I want to work?

Where do I want to work?

What type of company do I want to work for?

How much money would I like to earn?

What don't I want to do?

What am I scared of/what is stopping me?

Who can help me find a job/keep motivated/get feedback from?

(Yes, you could call this a SWOT analysis!)

Step 2 – The ‘Mind the gap" phase. Look at your skills and experience in relation to the types of jobs you could imagine yourself doing and identify the ‘gaps'.  You may be surprised to find that there aren't as many as you may fear (although more gaps may appear later on).  The question here is – what gaps need filling and how?

Step 3 – The ‘Research' phase – where will jobs be advertised? How can you network? Is cold calling an option?  Things have changed a lot in the past 20 years. Make it a priority to learn to make online job searches, and applications, work for you.

Step 4 – Updating the resume to reflect recent experience and skills and giving it a new ‘look'.

Step 5 –  Being persistent, disciplined, creative and flexible in the job search.

Step 6 – Enjoying the challenge!