How to Change Careers (Successfully)

Whether it’s due to dissatisfaction with your current career or possibly getting laid off from a job in a dying business sector, chances are great that you’re going to want to change careers (or may at least seriously contemplate doing so) at least one in your professional lifetime.

Many people do change careers. You hear often about people such as the person who left a career as a data analyst to that of freelance writer. Or the lawyer who left the profession to become an intern at a local television news station and who now covers the Supreme Court as a correspondent. Or how about this doozy of a change: going from a TV station control room to school bus driver and wedding officiant (both of which he LOVES)!

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But there also are many other people who change careers who find that the new career a) isn’t what they thought it would be or b) they struggle mightily to become successful within that career and/or make ends meet. We don’t hear as much about these people, but they’re out there, rueing the day they made the change.

And why do they regret the change? There usually are at least one – or more – of the following six reasons:

  1. They didn’t take the time to really think about what they wanted to do.
  2. They didn’t research the new career and went in blind.
  3. They quit their current job before researching the career and/or even having another job lined up.
  4. They didn’t get any training needed before quitting their current position and looking for a new job in a new field.
  5. They assumed they could get a job in the new career at the same level – and amount of salary — they had in in their old career (“Operations manager in retail to director in a marketing agency, here I come!”)
  6. Deciding to change careers because they hate their current boss/colleagues/company. (They forgot that a single job is not a career.)

Instead, here’s what successful career changers do.

  • They research and research – and research some more – the career(s) in which they are interested.

We may think that we know what it’s like working in a certain career, but that’s pretty much impossible unless we actually work in the career or at least talk to several people who work within it.

Since it would be very difficult to work in the field before, well, working in the field, your best bet is to talk to as many people as possible who do what you want to do. Ask them about the best and worst things about the career. Ask them how they got into the career. Ask them about salaries, skills and education requirements, etc. Ask them if they know of anyone else in the field you could talk to.

Doing this not only helps you get a better idea of what the career actual entails day-to-day, it also helps you build a network of people who can help you find work if/when you decide to make a move.

  • They work hard to see how their current skills can transfer easily to the new career and they showcase this to potential employers.

Chances are great that unless you have the skills that transfer easily from one career to another (sales skills, for example), you may have to start a bit “from the bottom.”

Not always, but usually. And the people who do start at a level somewhat akin to their current position in their current career work hard to either gain the skills needed  for the new career or show potential employers how they transfer.

They realize that it’s not their new manager’s job to make their career dreams come true: they need to show value and how they can solve the new supervisor’s problems from the get go.

If they don’t have the skills that transfer easily, they graciously come to terms with it and accept that they may have to climb the ladder all over again.

Possibly the easiest career change to make is to one that’s related to a current career: advertising to marketing, law to finance, medicine to public health, for example. That doesn’t mean a change from interior design to finance (for example) isn’t unheard of, but anyone making such a drastic change needs to make it with eyes wide open.

Are you looking for a change? Helpmates may be able to help you, so long as you understand the limits of your current skills in regards to what the jobs in a new career require. Whether you’re looking for a new job or a whole new profession, take a look at our current opportunities and, if one or more pique your interest, follow the instructions on the posting.

When a Co-Worker Drives You Crazy


Co-workers: they can make or break a job. You could be working in your dream career, even at your dream company doing work you absolutely love, but if even if there’s just one colleague who is annoying as all get out? Well, you may soon start looking for another employer, THAT’s how much a colleague who puts your teeth on edge can affect you.

What types of co-workers make the list of the most annoying? Take a look below:

Drama Queens. Male or female, these types of folks make a big thing out of Did another colleague look the drama queen a bit too long? Instead of thinking that perhaps the person was looking out in to space deep in thought, drama queens automatically assume the worst: the person hates them, is obsessed with them, is plotting against them, and so on.

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In other words, to drama queens, everything is about them. Oh, and life is one crises after another.These people Just. Can’t. Be. Bothered.

Want to ask if they can help you real quick on deadline? Don’t bother; it’s not their project. Are you on a work team together and you notice someone is doing the bare minimum (if that) and she always seems to work in slow motion? Oh, and does she often complain about her horrendous workload? Yup, a slacker.

The Braggart. Did someone just get a new Camry after just two years with the old one? You know about it because the braggart is letting everyone know about it. Did her boyfriend just give her a dozen roses and a nice necklace, just because? Does she talk about the new shoes she just purchased, how she got into a club no one can get into, and on and on about her fabulous life? There’s a braggart!

These aren’t the only types of crazy-making colleagues. There are bullies, perfectionists, gossips, suck-ups, shrinking violets, smiling backstabbers, Pollyannas, heroes, TMI sharers, and more.

But notice something here: chances are you at some point, sometime may have been one of these annoyances yourself? In other words, we’re all human, we all have our weaknesses and we all are annoying to someone else at some time.

We advocate understanding and forgiveness. So with that in mind, take a look below for some coping mechanisms you can use when the annoying ones make your life crazy at work.

When you find yourself annoyed by a co-worker, pause for a moment and dig into what you’re really feeling at the moment of annoyance. Are you angry, sad, disappointed, anxious? The simple act of naming your emotion can help alleviate it. At the same time, identify the exact thing/behavior your colleague does that annoys you. Instead of “he’s just an attention grabber,” it should be “I dislike it when he interrupts a speaker during meetings.”

Now ask yourself what your reaction can teach you about yourself. Chances are that another person’s actions irk you because you’re worried that you exhibit the same tendencies. Taking the above as example, if someone annoys you for interrupting and you think it’s because he needs to hog the spotlight, are you possibly concerned that you may sometimes come across as a limelight lover, too? Or are you worried that you’re too quiet and never speak up when you have a great idea?

Either scenario could mean that you have some work to do on yourself: either work on giving others a chance to shine or start speaking up more when you have something to say.

Of course, some annoying colleagues are – frankly – truly toxic! If that’s the case and you can give concrete examples of how their toxicity affected you (a team member slacked so much the project missed a deadline, and you have the documentation to prove it), bring your concerns (and documentation) to your manager or human resources.

Finally, if you find that a colleague truly does make your workday miserable, it may be time to look for another employer. If that’s the case, consider contacting the recruiters at Helpmates. While we do offer temporary assignments, we also have a lot of direct-hire opportunities. Take a look at all of our current openings and follow the instructions on the listing if one appeals to you.

Why Soft Skills Still Matter

Have you noticed how companies, hiring managers and recruiters are screaming “Where are all the skilled workers!?” It seems everyone working to fill a position is looking for skills, as in skills in technology, engineering, digital, coding, nano-tech, accounting and so on.

But what if you don’t have those particular skills? What if you’re a great writer? You get along well with others and help alleviate conflicts among colleagues when things get testy? What if you work well alone as well as in a team? What if you’re good at training others in sales, or WordPress?

What about you? Are you sunk, lost, never to be noticed by an employer again!

Hardly! Yes, certain skills are highly valued by employers, but the best coder in the world isn’t going to be highly prized by his colleagues or his supervisor if he’s a loner who makes snide remarks when he’s interrupted.

Instead, as technical skills become more and more important, so are soft skills raising their profile among hiring managers because the more impersonal the workplace becomes, so grows employers’ need to hire people who have the skills necessary to answer yes when someone asks “Can’t we all just get along?”

This post discusses how you can showcase your soft skills to an employer. Take a look below.

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The Three Top Soft Skills.

As our workplaces become more automated and technical (and therefore impersonal), employers are going to be looking people who:

  • Have the ability to collaborate with others (also known as a knack for teamwork).
  • Can think critically.
  • Are able to communicate well.

“Hard” skills may get you an interview, but unless you have soft skills, you won’t get the job – and then promoted within it. Tech, accounting, coding, marketing skills, etc. are what employers specify in job descriptions, but you will need to let your soft skills shine by being personable in your job interview, communicating well, asking questions, sending sincere thank you notes, negotiating salary, and so on in order to receive an offer

In addition, once you’re on the job, your people skills, your positive attitude, a strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, etc. will help you move up the ladder. They are, in fact, crucial skills to have if you want to succeed in any capacity.

To showcase your soft skills in a job interview, follow these tips:

  • Give specific examples of the times you went “above and beyond” for an employer and how doing so benefited the project on which you worked. (Soft skill: work ethic.)
  • Bring examples of written work you created to showcase your communication skills. In addition, tell the hiring manager/interviewer how you helped diffuse a tense situation, how you were able to move a skeptical prospect into a buyer, and so on.
  • Explain how you prioritize your to-do list, how you delegate to others and/or speak to managers when too many of their competing must-dos need to be coordinated among them. (Soft skill: time management.)
  • Dress appropriately for the job interview. Look the interviewer directly in the eye. Give her a firm handshake before and after the interview. Keep fidgeting to a minimum. Ask questions that show you’ve researched different aspects of the company and how the job opening fits into helping the company meet its goals. (Soft skill: self-confidence.) Practice these skills with a trusted friend or family member, if possible.

If looking for work in Southern California, bring your much-needed soft skills to Helpmates. We can help you find terrific job and career opportunities with many of the region’s top employers. It’s a candidates’ market today and our clients need you! Contact us today.

The Quick-Start Job Search Guide

Even though this definitely is a candidate-driven market (and it should continue to be so at least through all of 2018) and employers are practically on bended knee “proposing” to talent, Los Angeles-area workers could see themselves suddenly without a job: layoffs STILL occur!

If this has happened to you, you may decide to take a few days or weeks off to mourn your loss and even recharge. (“It’s a sort-of vacation!”) This can be a good idea, but we urge you to take only two or three weeks – at most – “off” before starting your job search in earnest.

Why? Because the very fact that you are unemployed – even if it wasn’t your fault – makes you much less desirable than someone who is still employed, even if you have highly sought after skills. Why? Because being unemployed makes you an “active” candidate. If you were still employed, you would be a “passive” candidate and employers prefer passive candidates because “we don’t have to worry about the circumstances surrounding their departure from their last job.” That’s right: get laid off for no reason other than because your employer decided it needed to cut back on its employee roster and you’re automatically (probably subconsciously) lumped in with ne’er do wells, thieves, folks who weren’t up to the task, “problem” employees, etc.

Is this fair? Of course not! But it is reality. So if you find yourself out of work, don’t sit around watching Hulu videos or finally getting around to painting your Huntington Beach condo. Start looking for work. Pronto!

Take a look below for 11 steps to take to get your job search started quickly. As in half a day!

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  1. Get organized.

Put on some comfortable clothes, find a quiet space in your home, get your previous resume and a cover letter handy, open up the laptop, and start contacting friends to see if they’d be willing to proofread your revised resume. Get some tea and/or coffee and settle down for the afternoon.

  1. Start thinking about where you’d like to work.

Have you always wanted to work at some particular company or companies? List them. Go to each of their websites and do some research. Jot notes about the companies’ products/services, their goals/challenges (check their blogs or news media sites for insight into these things). Look at your LinkedIn profile to see if you have any first, second or even third connections who either work at the companies or who may have connections at the companies. Check the companies’ job openings to see if there’s anything that fits your bill.

  1. Check job boards.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. And don’t apply to any openings. Not yet. This is recon: you want to see what job opportunities currently are to be had for your background and skill set. Make notes (bookmarks, too) if anything you see particularly strikes you or piques your interest.

  1. Pick five favorite openings and/or companies.

Head back to LinkedIn and see if you know anyone with any connection. Ask them to set up an informational interview with them. (Here’s a networking email template that says it will “get you a meeting with anyone you ask.” Let us know if it works!)

Work to set up a minimum of three meetings. Set those three meetings up today.

  1. Write a cover letter and tailor it to EACH different opportunity.

Seriously: each cover letter needs to be different. You cannot use the same cover letter for each opening. You need to show how your skills, background, accomplishments, and possibly education will help the employer solve the problems the position is supposed to solve and/or reach the goals the position is supposed to reach.

  1. Beef up your resume.

Tweak/edit it so that it highlights your specific accomplishments: those problems you solved and goals you reached for your previous employers. Don’t be afraid to also tweak your resume for each position.

  1. Send the resume/cover letter to one or more friends for proofing/feedback.

You want absolutely no grammar or spelling mistakes. None!

  1. Apply for the three or so openings online.

Upload your docs and hit send.

  1. If you’ve heard back from your potential informational interviews, set up meeting times.

Mention that you’ve applied for openings at their company (if applicable). Approach friends, family members and current and/or former colleagues for coffee meetings. Let them know what type of work you’re looking for, your skills/background and make sure to ask them if they know of anyone else with whom you could meet. (Tip: don’t wait for your friend to make the intro: people are busy and may forget. instead ask your friend for his contact’s email or phone info and ask your buddy if it’s OK if you contact the person directly, saying that your friend suggested that you contact the individual.)

  1. Repeat each day until you accept a job offer.

The way to find a job quickly is look for work each day. Yes, the old saw is true: view searching for a job as your job.

  1. Consider signing up with a staffing service such as ours.

Helpmates has new temporary, temp-to-hire and even direct-hire job opportunities appearing every day. You can work with us on temporary assignments while you job hunt on your own or allow us to send you on interviews for more permanent positions.

Take a look at our job openings and apply online. Or contact the office nearest you.

Making the Gig Economy Work for You

The Great Recession definitely “did a number” on many individuals’ careers. Mid- or late-career professionals were downsized and unable to find a similar position at a similar income. New college grads struggled mightly to even find their first post-college position. Many men were let go and unable to find work due to a lack of positions in “traditionally” male occupations such as construction, transportation, etc.

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If you’ve struggled to find employment in the years since then, you may have found that you prefer to work as a free-lancer, subcontractor or even temporary associate due to the independence and flexibility such positions offer.

Yet the “gig economy” is attractive to many people today, not just those who fought to find regular work with an employer, because the siren call of freedom is hard to resist for many who have the skills to make it in this new, flexible economy:

“No one can ever fire me again!” is their mantra!

Additional reasons why more and more people are embracing a non-traditional work style (from

  • Only 14 percent of companies offer pension plans to their employees (down from 60 percent in 1982), so what’s the point of working for an employer (some people may figure)?
  • LinkedIn reports that the average length of unemployment is almost six months (25 weeks). Many people may have decided not to look for work anymore and instead started a freelance enterprise.
  • Developments in technology make it easier than ever for people to start up new ventures and/or freelance from home.
  • Artificial intelligence probably will uproot the workplace in ways as yet unimagined, forcing/pushing more and more people to go solo. The Forbes article predicts that 47 percent of jobs are “at risk in the next 20 years,” with those who work in transportation, office and administration, logistics, and production probably at the most risk of employment upheaval

If you’d like to become a member of the gig economy, take a look below for some steps you may want to take in order to do so:

  • Ascertain your skills.

Many freelancers develop websites, work as business writers, write code, provide bookkeeping services, work as virtual assistants, consult for businesses, etc. What skills do you have that you could sell to others? Start researching how much money you may be able to make as a freelancer.

  • Save money! Lots of money.

It’s going to take time to start making money, so you’ll need some sort of income/cushion to tide yourself over as you start marketing your services. If you have a working spouse, congratulations! If you have debt, pay it down while you save.

The less outgo you need to worry about and the more savings you have as you start your new gig-economy career, the better. If at all possible, have at least three to six months’ savings handy and no debt.

  • Build a website and a social media presence.

Don’t spend too much time on your website in the beginning; it needn’t be fancy at all. Create social media channels and start posting/curating information of benefit to your target market.

  • Start trying different marketing tactics.

Whether you want to network at business functions in your local area, email or cold-call prospects, approach them on LinkedIn (or a strategy that uses all three), you’re going to have to start putting yourself out there.

If you consider yourself a shy person, work hard to take yourself out of your comfort zone: many introverts think they can simply email/reach out on social media to get clients. Of course you can, but it will take you far longer to land clients that way than if you were to pick up the phone and call and/or attend many networking events. At least in the beginning.

Instead, if you hustle up some courage and actually ask people for work, you’ll grow as an individual and grow your business much more quickly than you will hiding behind a computer.

  • Treat your freelancing as a business.

Sure, you can take an afternoon off to see the latest blockbuster, but if you do so and miss deadlines, you’ll have seen the movie but missed out on income. You can do both (see the movie when you want and get paid), but understand you may have to work on the weekends/late into the night in order to meet deadlines.

Remember: most clients want a reliable freelancer, not the best freelancer. Good enough is more than good enough if your clients know they can count on you to meet deadlines.

If you’ve decided to become a part of the gig economy and need some income to help you along as you build your business, consider working temporary assignments with Helpmates. You can work one-day assignments here and there, or work at a client for several weeks, which will help you keep your coffers full. Contact the Helpmates branch office nearest you today.

All I Want for Christmas is a Great 2018

Chances are good that you want your career/job situation to be the greatest it can be. With Christmas and the season of giving gifts upon us, it’s understandable if you’re hoping that this coming year will give you all you hope for and desire.

better career in 2018

And it can, so long as you realize you are the one who will deliver that gift. In other words, effort and some sacrifice on your part are what will help you obtain the career goals you dream of.

Happily, you really need only two things to make your job situation/career great this coming year.

So write a “Dear Santa” letter to yourself and ask yourself for these things:

  1. I will give myself the gift of additional training/education.

No one wanting to build a career – or stay employed – should think he or she can sit around and do the same old, same old every year and not feel the consequences at some point.

Additional training/education/certification always is going to be critical to success in the job market of tomorrow. Technology is changing such that artificial intelligence more than likely will (disrupt the employment prospects of millions now-employees in the next few years.

(Just some of the careers/jobs that could be affected: dermatologists, lawyers, sports journalists, financial reporters, retail clerks, border patrol agents, middle managers, pharmacy technicians, program software, and  more.)

Bottom line? The next time your boss asks if you want to go to a seminar on such and such, say yes (and then ask if you also can get certified in it).

  1. I will give myself the present of learning how to be a better “political” animal in the workplace.

Office politics exists. The most successful among us learn how to make their way through it with grace and skill because those who rise to the top are able to:

  • Be friendly – but not too much so – with everyone.
  • Stand up to bullies without becoming a bully themselves.
  • Take bad news stoically.
  • Give bad news with kindness yet firmness.
  • Know when to take a stand and know when to stand back.

Some people appear to easily navigate the politics of the workplace. Others struggle. But all of us can learn how to improve our own skills dealing with it.

Success truly comes easier if you can promote yourself and your “causes” fairly with your boss, clients and co-workers. Learning the “art” of office politics can be a terrific gift you give yourself this coming year.

Would another great Christmas gift to yourself be a new job? If you’re looking for work in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas, take a look at Helpmates’ current job openings.

Looking for Work During the Holidays: Why it Works

It’s the holidays! Time for great food; enjoying the red, green, yellow, blue, and white lights; listening to noels as well as goofy old-fashioned holiday songs (which still make you a tad weepy in a good way because they remind you of your grandmother); watching children’s faces light up with delight at special holiday decorations; getting together with friends and loved ones; shopping for gifts for those you love (and even those you’re not that keen on).

So who could possibly have time for job hunting?

holiday job search los angeles

You do!

At the least, you should make the time for job hunting because as busy as you are getting ready for the holidays, as much as you may not want to look for work (it’s not nearly as much fun anticipating the hunt for a job as it is the hunt for the perfect gift), looking for work during the holidays is a terrific idea because (drum roll): employers still have holes in their employee rosters! What’s more, here in December 2017, it’s still a candidate’s market and employers pretty much are desperate to find good people.

Yes, employers may distracted by the holidays as you are and hiring decisions may be put on hold later in the month as many people take vacation and some businesses close for a few days. But if you keep your full-court press on your SoCal job search at this time you’ll keep that momentum going in your search (a job hunt thrives on momentum).

Take a look below for X reasons why looking for work during the holidays…!

  1. Not everyone can stay focused on the job search, so you’ll have less competition.

We understand all too well how distracting the month of December can be. And not everyone can compartmentalize their different priorities – certainly not as well as you can! And because you can focus on the search, you can snag an interview from someone who’s distracted by holiday events and to-do lists.

Yes, you may find that hiring managers are a bit slower to get back to you. You also may find that when you are hired your new manager may say you won’t be starting until after the New Year. (But that’s OK, because instead of being “unemployed,” you’ll be “on vacation” and you can truly enjoy the holidays!)

  1. Can you say “Networking opportunities galore!”?

Take advantage of the many holiday gatherings and parties held at this time of year to – discreetly – connect with people who could possibly help you in your search. Not sure how to network at holiday gatherings? This article has several good tips.

  1. Many companies have “use it or lose it” budget policies.

Many department/hiring managers are given department funding that requires them to use all of the funds budgeted to them each year or else the money not used won’t show up in their budgets next year. (“After all,” their manager may reason, “they didn’t use it this year, so they don’t need it next year.”)

So hiring managers may be eager to fill an open position before the year ends and you may find yourself being called in for interviews and getting an offer faster than you might have anticipated.

  1. Many holiday positions can turn into permanent work.

Seasonal jobs often do turn into full-time work even after the holiday season ends. Savvy department managers know they would be foolish to let great workers go and so you well could be pleasantly surprised to be offered the chance to continue working after January 1.

So there’s one more reason to look into seasonal/holiday work if your “real” job hasn’t yet panned out.

  1. Temporary assignments also often become full-time opportunities.

Working with a staffing service such as Helpmates during the holiday season – or any time of the year – can help you bring in some cash while you look for work.

Yet many of our associates take on a temporary assignment and later are hired by our client company as their own employee. This happens regularly throughout the year and during the holidays.

So if you’re looking for your next opportunity, take a look at our current openings and, if one or more look interesting, follow the directions for applying.

Happy Holidays!

4 Reasons Why You’re Unhappy at Work

It’s unfortunate but it happens to all of us at least once in our working lives: we really dislike our job. As in, we really, really, REALLY dislike it! Hate is not a too-forceful description of how we feel about our job.

In fact, if at least one of the following four scenarios apply to you, chances are good you may be seriously thinking of breaking up with your job.

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  1. The commute is too long.

How long is too long? Studies show that anyone with a 30-minute or longer commute one way is pretty much miserable. Not only can such long commutes wreak havoc on your health, it also messes with your family life: taking a job that means you give up seeing your friends/family on a regular basis means you’d need to earn “$133,000 just to make up for the lack of happiness.” (Note that the linked post was written in 2004; how much more income would it take to make up for your long-commute misery today?)

Of course, in this scenario, it’s not your job you hate (necessarily), it’s the commute. Still, it’s time to find work with a shorter commute.

  1. Your co-workers/boss are idiots.

Granted, they probably aren’t idiots, but you’ve come to see them that way. They also probably didn’t “start out” as idiots either, but as nice people who, as time has gone on, moved from “nice new co-worker who invited me to lunch on my first day” to “annoying woman who always wants to eat with me and looks so hurt when I turn her down because she talks about her kids SO much.”

And your boss is a jerk.

Seriously. If you and your boss don’t get along (and we’re being nice when we call the boss the jerk; it could be you, after all), life is too short to be miserable. It’s time to move on (and look at why you and your boss don’t get along and try to figure out how to do better with the next boss).

  1. No one notices your good work and you’re not rewarded for it.

If you’re working hard, if you’re solving the problems you were hired to solve and you’re doing so well you should be recognized for it and rewarded. Yes. Definitely. Smart companies know this. If your company isn’t acknowledging and rewarding you, it’s not smart. You’re smart; move on.

  1. You’re not able to use your talent to the best of your ability/no chance for upward mobility/career development.

It’s something of a no-duh finding, but IBM recently found that 81 percent of workers are happier on the job when the work they do makes effective use of their abilities and skills. The reverse also applies: if you feel your job is a dead end, offering you no way to use your talent or grow in the position (opportunity for advancement), you tend to be….unhappy.

If the idea of going to work makes you cringe each and every morning, it may be time to make a change. Helpmates can help: take a look at our current temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire opportunities and, if something piques your interest, follow the instructions on the job description and apply and/or visit one of our locations.

Are You Really Overqualified or is it Age Discrimination?

You’re 43. You’ve been laid off or you’ve decided to look for another position. You start networking and even applying for opportunities you find interesting. You get a few interviews (but it feels as if they are fewer in number than they were when you last looked for work at age 37). But offers? They aren’t coming. And you get a feeling, one that you can’t quite put your finger on, but it sorta, kinda feels as if interviewers and hiring managers think you’re too old.

Job hunt over 50

At 43.

Of course, they don’t say you’re too old, because age discrimination is illegal. Instead they something such as “with your considerable experience, we wonder if you’d be bored in this position,” hinting – but not outright saying – that you may be “overqualified.” Which often does mean “too old.”

So while age discrimination supposedly is a no-no, why are you still hearing that you have too much experience? More importantly,  what can you do about it? For some answers, take a look below.

There’s always the chance that you are, indeed, overqualified. If you keep hearing this over and over again, take a look at the job descriptions for the openings to which you’re applying. If the tasks you’ll be performing and the skills you need to do those jobs really are something you can do with your eyes closed and while walking backwards, perhaps you should aim higher.

But what if the skills/tasks would be something of a do-able reach for you? What if they exactly match your skill set and background? Chances are it’s not because you’re overqualified: it could well be because they consider you “too old.”

We won’t go into the trouble people over the age of 40 and 50 have when it comes to finding work. And we won’t even touch the difficulty people over 60 have (these links speak plenty on their own). Instead, we’ll offer some tips to help you combat ageism in your job search.

  1. Don’t list ALL of your jobs on your resume.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what anyone did 15 or 20 years ago; it matters what you’ve done lately, so list only those positions from the past 10 or 15 years (maybe 20 if you’ve been at one employer that long, but highlight what you did for that employer for the last 10 years or so).

We know you don’t want to lie, so under “additional experience” mention different “special projects” you worked on.

  1. Reach directly out to hiring managers.

We’ve touched on this before, and the link above also recommends this tactic. Find the contact information of the position’s hiring manager and reach out. Many hiring managers will at least look over the resumes of those people who reach out to them.

  1. Show energy and enthusiasm in the job interview.

Many younger hiring managers believe older candidates have less energy and are waiting to just coast along in their next (“final?”) job so you want to exude vibrancy and energy.  You could try to hide your age, but that can be difficult and there’s always the chance you could try too hard), but you can show enthusiasm and dynamism. If you work out several days a week or hike frequently, etc., don’t be afraid to mention this when an opening appears in the job interview (such as if the interviewer asks you about your hobbies).

  1. You don’t need to highlight your Microsoft Office skills.

Knowing them is considered a given today and highlighting them could add a bit of the fuddy-duddy to you. Instead, if the position requires certain higher level technological skills, highlight them, especially if they are specific tech skills.

  1. Consider looking for work at smaller companies.

Larger companies tend to hire and promote from within. In addition, smaller companies tend to have fewer applicants. Always a good thing, no matter what your age.

  1. Think about working some temporary positions.

The longer you’ve worked, the higher the salary you’re seeking (typically) and higher salaried positions do tend to be longer to come by, no matter what your age. If you’re finding that your job search is taking longer than you anticipated, think about contacting one of our Helpmates offices and registering for temporary assignments with us. Remember, many temporary assignments do turn into regular, full-time positions.

Photo courtesy Thomas Hafeneth/

Why Working in Staffing is a GREAT Career

Arguably some of the best kept secrets when it comes to careers are working as a recruiter, manager and/or sales professional in the staffing industry.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve worked with us either as a temporary associate or client so you know what we do: we match candidates with Southern California companies in temporary, temp-to-hire and direct-hire job opportunities. In other words, our work makes a huge, positive difference in the lives of our neighbors and our colleagues. We can’t think of a better career than that!

Staffing Careers

What’s more, the work is never dull (no two of our days truly are ever alike) and compensation – especially after working in staffing for a few years – can be quite attractive. In addition, while college degrees will help, they are not required in order to become a great recruiter or sales pro: a willingness to learn, to do things far out of your comfort zone, to deal with rejection and – sometimes – unhappy  people while always treating everyone with respect, professionalism and kindness is.

Most People Don’t Think: “Hey, I Want to Work in Staffing!”

Most of us didn’t graduate high school or college with the plan to work in this industry: most staffing pros come from other business sectors. In fact, we’ve found that folks who have worked in retail, food service/hospitality, customer service (particularly car rental services and call centers) do well because they know how to deal with the public.

How we came to work in staffing varies for each of us, but we all stay for pretty much the same three reasons:

  • We can have a huge, positive impact on people’s lives.
  • It’s fun.
  • It can pay pretty darn well.*

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention staffing’s downside: it can be a highly stressful industry. Priorities change constantly as you work to satisfy both clients and your candidates.

Yet every career has its downsides and we feel that the many positive aspects of this career far outweigh the negative.

If we’ve at all piqued your interest, contact us: we have a few internal openings now. But even if that link shows no current internal opportunities, or doesn’t show the type of position you’d like to explore, contact us anyway as we always are looking for great people to join our internal team.

The American Staffing Association (ASA) offers more information about opportunities found in a staffing career on its website. In addition, the ASA has partnered with CareerBuilder and Capella Learning Solutions to create a program that prepares people for internal, entry-level recruiter positions in recruiting and staffing companies. (Note: taking the course in no way guarantees you a position with us, but you also don’t need to take the course in order to be considered for employment with us.)

*What does “pretty darn well” actually mean? While we can’t go into our salary ranges here, but let us direct you to, which shows that staffing coordinators in Los Angeles make an average salary of $33,700 (maximum of $55K), while recruiters average $53,428 (maximum of $72K). Staffing account executives (sales) averaged $59,201 (a maximum of $95K), while a staffing branch manager (management of a branch office plus sales) averaged $68,771 (a maximum of $94K).

Take a look here for more information on what we provide you as a member of our internal Helpmates Staffing team,

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