Q: I have been working temporary positions for the past two years and have not been able to get a permanent office position despite my numerous efforts. I am in my late 40’s and wonder if that has something to do with it.
A: Your question is a good one but there could be other factors affecting the success of your job search. First, you are probably aware that many employers are shifting to an increased reliance on contingent labor. Companies have replaced full-time workers with outsourced options – whether they move one or more jobs to India or to the temporary firm around the corner. More workers have some type of contracting, consulting or temping on their resumes than even 10 years ago.
Additionally, the last 12 months have been a challenging time to many job seekers. Even those very qualified applicants are facing incredibly difficult competition. The unemployment rates have been creeping up to the highest rates in decades. Massachusetts is fairing a bit better with an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent in September, 2009. The national unemployment rate for the US was 9.8 percent for the month of September, 2009. Massachusetts is not immune to this difficult economic environment.
I am also not certain how you have conducted your job search. Networking is still the best avenue. Often times when I talk to job seekers, I find that their job search efforts are focused on efforts behind the computer. The PC is a very useful tool but not a replacement for networking. Here are some worthwhile job search resources to consider:
– if you attended college, your college or university career services office or alumni association events
– linkedin – an online networking tool
– job boards – Monster/Boston Works among others
– your email list – review your email addresses to determine if there are any strong professional contacts that you have not reached out to as of yet
– former colleagues
– the temporary firm that you might be working through
– never say no to an introduction; introductions lead to more contacts
– inform your own personal network that you are looking for a new opportunity – your siblings, your neighbors, contacts in your community
– ask for introductions and referrals into companies and hiring managers
– churches, synagogues, temples and other houses of worship often are good places to develop or strengthen your network
– contact former employers – rehires are often a good source of talent for many employers
– Operation Able (www.operationable.net) may be a valuable resource; Operation Able assists individuals (45 years old and above) with training and employment opportunities
Unfortunately, age discrimination does exist. I can not ascertain whether you have been impacted by it or not. However, understand that this is a difficult employment market where you have to truly work (incredibly hard) to land a new job. A colleague of mine recently landed a new role at a company just outside of Boston. He was unemployed for almost one year. I asked him what were the secrets of his job search success. He replied, “I left no stone unturned. Not one.”