In the movie Tootsie, the opening scene zooms in on Michael Dorsey played by Dustin Hoffman preparing for an audition. He continues to try out for various acting parts. Despite telling casting directors he can play old, young, tall, short he fails to land a role After an audition for a soap opera goes poorly, he reinvents himself as Dorothy Michaels. To his mazel (luck for those of you who do not understand Yiddish), what was supposed to be a brief gig turns into a long-term contract.
As a credentialed career coach and resume writer, I occasionally meet people who suffer from what I call the Tootsie syndrome. Either they are too old or too young, too dark or too light, too experienced or not experienced enough. There are many reasons why you will or will not get the job. If any of them have to do with ageism, racism, or any other kind of ism, ask yourself if you will be happy working for an employer that will hold these things against you. Chances are you will not want to be in that type of environment.
Apart from the challenges that age, cultural background, race or anything else bring, there are things you can do to capture the interest of hiring managers.
1. Avoid focusing on what you cannot change. Along with age comes wisdom and experience. Younger companies and those in need of a turnaround can benefit from someone who has been there, done that, and knows how to do it again. Whereas the more established corporations seek recent graduates who are quick learners with the adaptability to learn new technologies. Your cultural background may be of benefit to organizations targeting niche and global markets.
2. Put your best foot forward. Join a gym, take a yoga class, start race walking. In addition to helping you lose those extra pounds exercise will help you manage stress related to your job search. Working out is a great way to boost your energy and give you a more youthful appearance. Participation in a group program can also expand your network.
While we are on the topic of appearance, consider these do’s and don’ts.
a. Have a professional colorist dye your hair instead of doing it yourself.
b. Invest in a new interview suit or outfit if you gained more than ten pounds or your outfit is outdated.
c. Be well groomed. Ladies keep your nails neatly filed even if you must cut back on manicures. Men remember to trim your mustache and / or beard.
3. Gratitude can change your attitude. Celebrate the small wins. In a past career as an account executive, I learned it takes 20 no’s to get one yes. Each time someone hung up the phone on me meant I was one step closer to getting a yes. Every interview is an opportunity to learn what does and does not work and will help you refine your skills.
4. Save the day. Cartoon character, Mighty Mouse possesses super strength, X-ray vision, and invulnerability. Compile a list of areas that you have super strength. Are you a people person? Are you better at crunching numbers? Be prepared to demonstrate your super powers by writing down your SPARSE stories: situation, problem, actions, results, and skills employed. Use your X-ray vision to uncover the employer’s real needs. Even if you believe you are desperate build your confidence by reading affirmations or the Bible and asking friends and family memebers what they see as your greatest strengths. The process of having your resume professionally written is a great assurance booster. A certified resume writer is trained to hone in on your gifts and achievements.
5. Give them something to talk about. The day of getting your job through the New York Times is a rare event. The new, modern resume must be compatible with automated tracking systems, promote your accomplishments as well as your experience, be well-written, and error free. Your document should appeal to the eyes and make it easy for employers to visually scan for relevant information. If you are not familiar with how to do this your last name may get filed as MBA or J.D. When hiring managers are trying to reduce the pile of resumes one typo can cost you a valuable opportunity. Visit the library or your local bookstore or contact a certified resume writer to learn how resumes have evolved into career marketing materials.
6. Stand out from the other candidates. Like an actor who learns their lines and creates a memorable character you too can engage and enthrall hiring managers with your understanding of the company and the job. Spend at least six hours researching the organization and its competitors. A visit to Glassdoor will allow you to glean information about the company’s approach to interviewing, what past and present employees have to say about the workplace culture and environment as well obtaining salary information. Google the business name to see what customers have to say. Look on LinkedIn for employee profiles and articles they have written. Utilize the information you have gathered to prove you are the best candidate.
At the foundation of your job search is a valuable person who has made a difference in the world. Whether you are currently employed, about to be downsized, or in a job search you have achieved many different things. If you are new to the workforce, you survived the rigors of college while trying to figure out who you are and what is your purpose. You can learn new things and have the eagerness to apply them. If you are a seasoned professional with 20+ years of experience, you have a lot to contribute to an organization in need of someone just like you.
If being an employee no longer works for you, do a Tootsie and reinvent yourself. After all, Dorothy’s short stint evolved into a long-term contract.
Anne-Marie Ditta is an executive career coach and certified resume writer focused on helping mid managers and c-level executives plan and execute a rewarding move for every phase of your career. She has written 1000+ resumes and coached 500+ executive within the past 17 years You can learn more about her at http://firstimpressioncareerservice.com or schedule a complimentary consultation by calling 917-576-2821 or sending an email to [email protected]