Job Search Success: Unemployed Woman Over 60

WorkCoachCafeJob search successes happen constantly — more than 5,000,000 jobs are filled in the USA every month. But, most job seekers don’t learn about those successes. This post is the first of a series to help you see how those successful job seekers landed their new jobs.

Job Search Success: Betty, Over 60, Seeking a Part-Time Job

Sixty-plus year old Betty (not her real name) had worked for her employer full-time for several years. But the “company culture” was not very flexible or supportive, and it became toxic when Betty’s husband died unexpectedly. In the end, Betty left the job because the environment became unbearable.

Fortunately, for many years she had been running her own small business on the side, outside of her full-time job. Unfortunately, that income was not enough to live on, even as she ramped it up to a full-time job. So, Betty needed a part-time job so she could consistently pay her bills without worry.

After more than six months without an official job or income, Betty decided to look for a part-time job, and she landed one very quickly.

This is how she did it…

Success: Dropping by a Potential Employer’s Business

This is Betty’s story, in her own words:

When life throws you a bucket of lemons, the old adage is “you make lemonade” and hopefully make a profit selling the lemonade at your lemonade kiosk. As we all know, it is easier said than done.

With the over-whelming bucket of lemons sitting in front of me, I decided to depart the corporate world. Working for myself in my home office was great, but I am a people person, who needs a commitment outside of the office. And, a steady income stream is very nice. What to do?

Every day, for the past 14 years, I drove along the same route, noticing the businesses along the route and how or if they changed over time. One in particular caught my eye.  Since my “corporate job” for the past several years was working for a CPA firm, I noticed a very small accounting firm in an old dirty building. One day, the signs to that firm disappeared and the building was for sale (I found out the owner had passed away).

I kept watching the building. I began to notice it transform — new clean paint and new signage. Would you believe, it was another small accounting firm?

Over several days, as I continued to drive past this new business, I wondered if I should take the chance, go back into accounting (part-time). I would have that commitment outside of my home office with the added benefit of a short commute.

Wearing jeans (clean ones) and a decent shirt, I was on my way to the supermarket one day and almost passed the accounting firm, when I said “why not” and pulled into their parking lot. Walking in, I said, “Hi, my name is…..and I don’t normally dress like this when looking for employment, but I decided to take a chance.” The accountant wasn’t dressed formally either, and he said, “No problem.”

We talked for over an hour and came to a partial agreement to be formalized after the upcoming tax deadline. When I returned a few weeks later, we agreed on my pay and hours, and I started shortly thereafter.

I still have my own business (which has nothing to do with accounting), and am happy with my new part time job.

Now, admittedly, this was a gamble, but every so often you just have to put yourself out there and say, “What is the worst that can happen?” In my case, I would have proceeded on to the grocery store and kept looking.

Betty took a chance and dropped by the new business. The result was success! Betty now has a great part-time job with a regular paycheck and a short commute. The accountant won, too. He has an experienced employee who appeared when and where he needed her.

5 Important Lessons from Betty’s Success

Yes, Betty was lucky. This was in the classic right-place-right-time situation. But, she did at least 5 very smart things that we can all take note of:

  1. She paid attention to her preferred geography, looking for a appropriate opportunities.
  2. She targeted an employer who would need someone with her skills and experience.
  3. She targeted an employer who probably needed to hire a new employee.
  4. She didn’t assume that she was “too old” to be hired.
  5. She walked into the employer’s office with an excellent level of confidence, knowing that she would find something else if this didn’t work out.

Her attitude and her approach were just right for this situation. It was a perfect match for both her and the employer.

Possible Improvements

Betty could have improved her process:

  • She could have researched the business name learn how long they had been in business, the focus of their accounting services (bookkeeping, auditing, tax management, management consulting, etc.), and the name(s) of the owner(s).
  • She could have planned her approach so she would have been dressed more appropriately for the first meeting with the employer.
  • She could have brought copies of her resume with her, customized for the opportunity, to give to the employer.

Fortunately, Betty and the accountant were pleased with each other, and these improvements were not needed for her to land the job.

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org and is a columnist on HuffingtonPost and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

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