In his commencement address to the Rhode Island School of Design, film-maker John Waters was lighthearted about professional rejection.
One analogy he used was hitchhiking.
There the creative graduates would be, standing on the road.
Their thumbs are out.
Their legs and thumbs are tired.
Eventually, a vehicle stops, the driver says, "Hop in," and they're on their way - at least for a while. All that pain is ancient history.
Those Waters was guiding were 20-somethings. Yes, in creative fields they will have lots of difficulty getting, holding, and moving on to better employment. But they are just starting out. Their mindset is wildly optimism. In itself, that neutralizes the sting of "no."
Professional rejection for those of us over-50 can't be spun in that casual way.
The good news is that there are 5 proven ways we can outsmart our own minds and even those of employers who hire us for full-time, part-time, and contract work.
Don't become Zelig-like. In observing what personas, experience, and skills are selling on the labor market, we might conclude that we have to reconfigure ourselves into the next X or Y. Wrong.
In classic career guide "What Color Is Your Parachute? 2018," it's hammered that we take the time to know who we are and what we excel at.
Start there. Then make adjustments. For instance, the displaced writers have to take an inventory of what in their background is marketable and what new knowledge and skills they have to add on - quickly.
The mistake is trying to be all things to all employers after rejection. That is, setting out for a total overhaul. The introverted laid-off Denver Post journalists are unlikely to land work by positioning and packaging themselves as hard-charging salespeople. Therefore, only pursue opportunities which are a commonsense fit.
The "Parachute" series, around since the 1970s, ranks at 694 on Amazon. It sells in 28 countries. The reason why is that its recommendations are in the money.
Apply with no expectations. Over and over I advise those over-50 I'm coaching for interviews to not project outcomes. That puts them in their heads, focused on the how the future will be when they are in that job or assignment.
Instead, they have to be in the now, explaining in detail what they can do for that employer - better and more affordable than the competition.
Role play for those interviews consists of addressing the question: How can I help you? In that presentation of self, we do what successful sales people do: We assume the sale. But, not too aggressively.
For instance, that entails using terms like "we." In addition, we can create a visual of the kinds of results we will produce. That could be the organization's social media page views, shares, likes, and comments up 22%.
Reverse engineer every aspect of the application. We do not get the job offer or assignment. So many variables are involved. It isn't simply one factor such as the cover letter or the dynamics of the interview. We have to investigate everything from what kinds of work we are pitching for to the thank-you email we transmitted post-interview.
After such a review a 62-year-old former lawyer I coach realized she couldn't produce marketing communications for law firms. At least not yet. She invested in a Dale Carnegie marketing and sales seminar. The instructor was Michael Francoeur (email@example.com.). He also is an executive coach who is available nationally.
Create back-ups. Better yet, establish multiple sources of income. No application for work should be, in terms of our finances, the last gas station in the desert. The desperation shows. And, come on, why should any employer hire someone running low on professional prospects.
The survival job has become a useful bridge along the bumpy journey of career transition.
Back in late 2003, West Hartford, Connecticut cognitive therapist Amy Karnilowicz pushed me to grab a job, any job. Because my industry has collapsed, the company I was running had also tanked.
The contract assignment in loss prevention I grabbed led to a full-time job with benefits. My confidence returned. The brass rewarded my work ethic and enthusiasm with offers of promotions. By 2005, I was starting up another company - and being invited to lecture and coach on career transition. Already, I was in the multiple-sources-of-income box.
Given the volatility of the labor market, it's financial suicide to bet the ranch on one job or line of work. A 59-year-old lawyer who has been through the job-loss wringer in that downsizing sector has several sources of income, including training horses.
Never plan to "settle in." That includes a network. Essentially the world of work has become one of projects. Employers have very specific goals to accomplish. Teams are recruited.
Then, that's it. We are back on the market. Also, those professionals with whom we worked so well may or may not want to remain in-touch. Around the turn of the century, the blogging early adopters were a close-knit network. Then, social media changed. Those relationships are over.
The don't-settle-in perspective prepares us for the reality that the search for work is forever. Unless we decide to retire. And, the Federal Reserve Board found that about one-third of those who do retire bounce back into the labor force.
In essence, being successful professionally for the over-50 has become a mind game. That is more of a driver than any other factor. We have to be able to outsmart our own innate pessimism and the age-bias of employers.
Contact Jane Genova firstname.lastname@example.org.