Q. I have been a HR professional for 27 years, and until recently with my
last organisation for twelve years. My role was made redundant as
part of a corporate downsizing and I am finding the job market very daunt
ing in the current environment, particularly to someone with a few grey
hairs who hasn’t had to interview for a long time! Any tips?
A. In the current environment, your length and depth of experience could
be put to very good use. We are seeing more organisations turning to
‘subject matter experts’ to help them navigate tough times. A client re
cently commented that she was viewing mature workers as the white
knights of the global financial crisis, who are able to demonstrate wisdom
in a downturn and provide unique insight and anecdotes. Some of your
younger HR peers may be grappling with major change projects and
downsizing for the first time in their career and would value a wise head.
So, turn this to your advantage. What are your options?
Firstly, take some time to map out your key strengths, skills, passions
and knowledge. Where do you excel? What particular expertise do you
hold? Where can you add significant value to an organisation right now?
Make sure your resume reflects this and is not just a duty statement. It is
also worth ensuring that your resume is ‘age neutral’ to avoid unnecessary
bias by a hiring manager. Seemingly obvious things such as removing
date of birth and HSC dates, but also containing detail on career history to
just the past twenty years.
The next step is to assess which industries are less impacted by the fi
nancial crisis, or indeed, are thriving as a result. Do your research. Which
large mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon? These call for experi
enced HR operators to oversee the people projects.
Cover all your job search bases in terms of internet job boards (includ
ing niche boards such as adage.com.au and jobsinhr.com.au) and spe
cialist HR recruitment agencies, but also map out your personal and pro
fessional network and make sure you are having plenty of conversations
with people who can open doors for you.
Many experienced operators are carving out a lucrative portfolio ca
reer, allowing them to work with a number of organisations in their area of
expertise on a project basis. This relies on your ability to seek out opportu
nities and sell yourself in to the company. So if you lack confidence in this
area consider targeting HR consulting firms, both large and small. Firms
value the versatility and client relationships skills that more experienced
professionals bring to the role.
Once you get your foot in the door, you need to make the right first im
pression with a polished and authentic interview. Check out the Yale Inter
view Guide as this is an excellent resource to brush up on technique. Con
sider seeking advice from a professional career coach or tap into your
recruitment consultant network and seek honest feedback on your re
sume and interview skills.
And last but not least – take care of yourself! Now is the time to see a
good financial planner to make your money work for you and book in for a
health check. The right balance of diet, sleep and exercise goes a long
way to projecting a healthy positive image to a prospective employer, not
to mention building resilience and alleviating stress in uncertain times.
By Alison Monroe, director, SageCo. 02 9236 7337. firstname.lastname@example.org