Senior, I Mean Seasoned, Seasonal Employment.


Don’t be too surprised if you notice older-looking workers behind the department store counters as you begin your holiday shopping this season.  ABC News reported that retailers nationwide say they are hiring an increasing number of experienced job-seekers in their 40s and 50s for part-time and seasonal work in what they describe as “a direct reflection of the economy.”

I’ve spoken to many retail managers that feel the older job seekers possess many attributes attractive to employers, including those hoping to fill part-time or temporary posts. Among their many skills: they are highly reliable, and have a better work ethic than those half their age. They’re not going to be complaining that they’re not paid enough, or that their skills aren’t being used, because it’s temporary.

Also dismiss the suggestion that older workers might feel guilty about taking a gig which may be intended for a high school or college student. One thing I’m sure of is that workers in this climate don’t agonize over who else’s job they’re taking.

Still, not everyone is totally optimistic about the holiday hiring season, and whether or not those low-level jobs will even be available is a question. Last week, West Orlando News cited a National Retail Federation report which says that retailers are expected to take on between 480,000 to 500,000 temporary workers this year, in line with last year’s figures and still well below the pre-recession highs.

In the past, many job seekers might accept part-time or seasonal work in hopes of being eventually promoted to a full-time employee. But even those numbers are grim.  Maryam Morse, national retail practice leader of Hay Group, told the AJC that while in the past 60 to 70 % of seasonal hires would have been able to keep their jobs beyond January; it is 20 percent or fewer.

Things to focus on for us seasoned job seekers are:

Don’t be the “Been there, done that” guy.

Talk about a conversation killer. This one is probably worth purging from your vocabulary entirely, because it’s just about impossible to say it without at least a dash of cynicism, boredom or one-upsmanship, and all of these are a turnoff.

Say “I have done things that seems similar, so let me tell you about them and you decide if it’s what you need.”

Don’t be the “A long time ago.” guy

You might as well continue that with “in a land far, far away” since you’ve already killed any chance of the interviewer relating to you. Don’t make them visualize you decades ago.

A job search is about getting hired for what you can do right now, so even though you might draw on experiences from jobs you had many years ago, talk about what you did without drawing attention to when you did it.  It’s about what you can do now, not what you used to do.

Don’t be the “I think that was in” guy.

Say this one as your eyes drift upwards showing hard you’re trying to remember a detail and bring that distant past into focus. You’ll look confused and the listener will be witnessing your trip down memory lane. Not good.

Appear sharper and younger by knowing the details of your background and exactly what your resume says. Don’t let anyone think your memory is hazy.

I recommend that you don’t even bring up jobs before the 10 to 15 years that are on your resume unless you absolutely have to. They’re just not going to seem pertinent right now.

Don’t be the “The way we did it was better in the past” guy.

No it wasn’t and holding on to that belief just makes you miserable. It wasn’t better, it was just different. I know, I was there, too.

What you think of how things used to be is not important. That time is gone.

This is now, and just about everything about how we do things has been revolutionized, so thinking it was better just makes you look like the world passed you by. That impression will definitely not make you more hirable.

Don’t be the “I’ve seen it all” and “I know it all” guy.

There are different versions of claiming to know everything, and every one of them will make you look uninterested in learning new ideas or new ways of doing things.

It’s also a lie. Every situation is different, and your role in each of those situations is different. You need to show your flexibility and energy about learning something new and being part of a new team. Jaded will not cut it, but open-minded team player might get you the job.

Other suggestions:

  • Project yourself as a great listener open to new ideas.
  • Accept being a team member and not the leader; your most welcome role will likely be as a utility player who gets things done.
  • Show that you are a low-risk hire and not planning to push anyone out of the team.
  • Listen for the ways you can assist the team; be a good utility player who gets things done.
  • Look your best and how you feel most confident, whatever that means for you; if you feel good about how you look, you’ll interview better.
  • Be tech savvy and modern.
  • Offer to start as a temp, contractor or consultant.
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Posted on October 19, 2011, in Job Search and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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