There are too many older people, men and women, but mostly men, who find themselves on the scrapheap somewhere north of 45.
20 years of working life left, and they struggle to find jobs that use their knowledge and experience, and end up mowing lawns or delivering packages.
What a waste of a deep resource, as well as being a social blight on us all.
The jobs these people are looking for no longer exist, they have gone, and are unlikely to come back. Not only do we as a community not value the lessons of experience, we positively discriminate against those with the experience by exclusion.
Subtle, on paper illegal but evident everywhere, exclusion.
We will have to get used to it, as the changes wrought by the industrial revolution and the social disruption colloquialised as ‘Luddites” is coming back at us very, very, fast.
AI, VR, Augmented VR, and a host of technologies to automate every repetitive task, almost no matter how challenging it may be, is coming at us like a train. In the coming few years accountants, lawyers, architects, doctors, and many others insulated so far, will all feel the heat of change.
So what should the people displaced by these technologies do?
Learn to sell.
Sales is not just about a product, it is about selling themselves, but the rules are identical.
When someone seeks to buy a product with a significant price tag, they generally have some outcome in mind that they require. The art of selling is to identify that outcome and develop the path that makes you the only option.
Let’s look at it from another angle: how do you sell yourself into a job, which is entirely different to how do you get a job.
Sales is all about the process. Selling yourself is similarly all about the process, from identifying targets, making the introduction, warming up the prospect, to closing the deal. Absolutely no different, except that we are personally involved, failure to get a job means that the kids do not get fed, so the pressure is on, and most buckle and revert to the supplicant mode. Understandable, but absolutely the wrong thing to do. Nobody will hire a supplicant to sell their products, therefore when selling yourself, never be the supplicant.
Know your prospect as well as possible. This is sales 101, why would it be any different selling yourself? Knowing a lot about the businesses you might like to work for is about the most basic piece of information you could have. As a senior manager, I hired a lot of people, and never once did I hire anyone who had not taken the trouble to learn a bit about the business I worked for at the time. Now, with the net it is even easier to have detailed information about all sorts of things on which to base a few intelligent and engaging questions.
Ask questions. That way you get answers, and can ask the next question, and that is the best way to engage with anyone, ask them about the things they are interested in. Most successful bloke I ever saw with girls was a pretty ordinary looking bloke, smart, but nondescript. He never talked about himself, in fact, did not seem to speak much at all beyond a few questions, as he was flooded by girls who thought he was the bees knees. I only understood this when it was too late for me.
Hustle, at least a bit. Nobody ever failed to be hired for not following up enough. While I dislike the term ‘follow up’ in a generic sense as it is a red sales flag, finding another way to say the same thing, such as ‘just thought I would seek some feedback on our meeting last week’. People want to hire others who will not give up, who will persist, get back up after being knocked over, so why would it be any different when selling yourself.
Know when to walk. As in any sale, there is a point beyond which you will not go. Determine in your own mind what that point is, and be prepared to walk away. This clearly signals you are other than a supplicant, and does the self-image a lot of good.
Sales collateral. You need sales collateral, even if it is just for credibility. Selling for a business it is the website, product information, deals, and so on. Selling yourself it is your LinkedIn profile, presence on industry platforms and forums, lack of party photos on Facebook, and finally a resume that is short, clearly identifies how the skills you have will solve their problems and be without the usual spelling and grammatical failures. Core to this is the visual elements. We are visual animals, good photos are essential.
So, polish up the pitch, do the research, and get out there.