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How to plan a job search after 20 years

Brad Remillard is the founding partner at IMPACT HIRING SOLUTIONS, an executive search firm and training company. In his 30 years as an executive recruiter he has conducted over 10,000 interviews. He is the co-author of two books on hiring including “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.”  He’s here to offer his advice to help companies hire better and candidates find a job more quickly.

Q.  I’m just starting my job search after working for the same company for the last 20 years. I’m looking for any tips to help me get started and do it right?


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A. I would start by knowing the three P’s required for an effective job search.

  1. Presentation. I speak on this all the time. Candidates so often downplay this or take it for granted. For some reason, candidates just don’t focus enough energy here. This is the most basic of basics. Remember the most qualified person doesn’t always get the job. Rather, the person with the best presentation and some minimum level of qualification will often get the job. Preparation. If the presentation isn’t working, now it is time to start preparing. This is a big job and again so often taken for granted by candidates.
  2. Prepare your marketing plan. Are you in the right networking groups? Maybe it is time to change the groups you are attending. Are you meeting the right people? Look back over the people you met within the last three months and evaluate who and what types of people have been helpful and those who didn’t provide any assistance. Identify companies and people you want to meet. Set up a plan to meet them. If you contacted a company 6 to 8 months ago things may have changed, so consider reconnecting or finding another way into the company.
  3. Practice.This is probably the most important of the three P’s. Everyone has heard, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, this applies in a job search. Practice your body language. Practice how you use your voice to stress points. Practice answering succinctly, and the important questions you want ask. Practice exactly how you are going to answer the standard questions asked in just about every interview. I always have the candidates I coach write out complete answers to these. Then we practice them until the candidate has succinct answers. These should be so well-rehearsed that they come off as if it is the first time you answered the question.

Q. I’ve been unemployed for more than six months. Recently I heard that California is passing a law making it unlawful to discriminate against hiring someone who is unemployed. I don’t know if that has happened to me, but is this a common practice?

A. To my knowledge the law has not passed. It was only introduced in the legislature on Jan. 5, 2012. So it isn’t the law yet.

I don’t think this is as rampant as many would believe. I have been asked by companies if they should only consider the employed. I always reply, “Why would you exclude potentially excellent candidates just because they aren’t working? Bad things happen to good people. Take a look at everyone and from that group select the best. That is what you want when hiring.” In every situation I can think of the hiring authority agreed with me.

I recently completed a search for a very senior-level sales role. Of the six candidates I presented to the CEO, the final two were both unemployed.

After an extensive and extremely thorough hiring process, all six were hireable candidates. But these two clearly stood out as the best. In this case, if the CEO only selected from the employed, he would have missed the best candidates.

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