Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn.

This is an old saying — an cliche originated in the United States that my mother frequently used as a gentle admonishment when she sensed  that my ego was beginning to cloud my judgment and perspective, that I was not as smart or clever as I thought I was.   Also known as a momism or dadism,  depending on which parent was doling out the advice, this saying means that even if people are misguided or ineffective, sometimes they can be correct  just be being lucky.

This cliche applies to our careers as well.

The whole construct for executive career management and actively looking for, or being recruited to, a new job has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, with significant senior-candidateshutterstock_249027661changes occurring during the last three years.  For some executives and managers who are in their mid to late 50s, these changes (the role that social media plays in the process and the not so subtle shift in what recruiters are looking for in an interview) the effort that it takes to remain market competitive are seen as just too much of a hassle.  They hunker down and try to persevere to age  65.  If they have been good little savers, some executives are retiring early.  For them, the hassle of finding a job is no longer worth what they may make. They are now applying their leadership skills on the golf course, with their grandchildren, or any number of volunteer activities.

But if you have not been as diligent in setting enough money aside for a rainy day or an early retirement, you cannot afford to ignore the new rules of the road.  Being a blind squirrel in search of an acorn is not a  career strategy that will consistently pay the bills.

Here are some concepts that I believe you should embrace if you want to extend your career and you find yourself back in the job market.

  1. Social media is here to stay. Most of the younger recruiters are Millennials.  They have not known a life without technology, Facebook, Twitter  and LinkedIn.  It does not matter if you are uncomfortable with the technology, or that you have a deep-seated aversion to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat etc.  The people who are doing the actual searching and screening for candidates are relying more and more on those applications and other social media tools to identify candidates.   Learn the ropes or go home.
  1. The I’ve always done it this way zone of comfort mindset is akin to whistling past the graveyard on a moonless night.  In other words, people who brandish this excuse with gusto are just trying to be cheerful in what is, or will become, a dire situation.  They want to play in a 21st century job market with a 30-year-old set of career beliefs that are outdated. When you are interviewing with younger recruiters, this is the last place you want to be.  If you are lucky enough to find the acorn — another job — this mindset can also be the reason you do not stay around too long.  The way you search for a job has changed, but the way you execute the work that you do, is also changing.
  1. Personal Health and Fitness is critical. Even if you have taken care of mastering social media and you have managed to overcome your  outdated 30-year-old career comfort zone, you have another challenge:  taking care of yourself.  You have to be and look healthy or you will find yet another barricade that you must overcome.   I cannot tell you how many times I hear words like “energy”, “stamina”,  “passion” or “commitment” in candidate interview evaluations.  If an individual is not appropriately groomed, or if they are significantly overweight, the barriers just get higher.  Yes, there are laws against discrimination but the best defense is to work on being physically fit because being healthy typically means (to the employer) that you will have more energy. And suing a potential employer for employment discrimination is not going to endear yourself to the job search process. 
  1. If you are a Millennial, take note. Do not be smug like so many Baby Boomers who are now in a career no-man’s zone.  These are probably the same types of issues you will be forced to address as you approach the last quarter of your career.  The only way you can avoid this detour is to commit to continuous education and change, always embracing new technology, new workplace work structures, and staying fit.
  1. Lose the excuses and the dangerous ego mindset that somehow you are different and none of this applies.

It is time to breakout, change  if you want to extend your career.

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