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The following is an excerpt from the CareeREPORT e-newsletter series.

Most of you probably know a talented person who is struggling after suddenly finding themselves out of work. Years of loyal service used to mean respect, a secure future and a nice pension. These days, however, a lot of baby boomers find that many years of hard work have earned them none of the above.

Take Michael, for example. A New Jersey speculator bought Michael’s company and dismantled his division, in spite of its high profitability. Suddenly, his years of contributions were only worth a small severance and a minimal outplacement package. He found himself out on the streets at age 53, after 15 years with his employer.

After recovering from the initial shock, he confidently told family and friends that he would land on his feet. He diligently searched the classifieds, answered ad after ad and mailed his resume to fifty companies – but came up empty handed. Despite what he thought was an impressive resume, no one seemed interested. Weeks and months went by. Michael was dumbfounded to find himself still looking after a year.

If you’re in Michael’s situation, it’s easy to get discouraged.

Here’s the solution: Realize you’re still in the game. Many companies have changed their view on the experienced worker. Take time to assess your skills and be able to clearly articulate how you can help a company.

This is especially important for people like Michael who haven’t had to look for work in years. He’s been so busy accomplishing things that he hasn’t thought about what he does best. Introspection was the first important step Michael took toward getting his next job.

If you can’t articulate your worth and contributions, there is little chance anyone will find a place for you. Here are some keys to finding success.

1. DEVELOP AND USE YOUR NETWORK.

It’s key to have a network people in your field who know you, your skills and contributions. If you don’t have a network, you need to intelligently develop and maintain one. Most of us have heard so much about networking that the term has become almost trite. But while everyone knows they should network, few people do it well.

Pathetically handing out copies of your resume and getting others to feel sorry for you because you are out of work is not only ineffective networking, but it can almost be worse than no networking. Giving a hundred people the impression that you are a pitiful character makes you less likely to be hired. Good networking means making a powerful impression on a number of people so that you gain visibility within your field and recognition for your talents.

2. DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE SALES PITCH FOR YOUR SERVICES.

You need to come up with your own “unique selling proposition.” Jay Abraham, a $5,000 an hour marketing consultant, stresses the fact that any business must have its own unique selling proposition, to make them stand out head and shoulders above the rest of “the crowd.” You can do the same thing for your business.

Learn from the tactic Michael ultimately used to win his job. He stressed the value of experience over youth, saying, “Today, most people stay in a job for only two or three years before moving on to greener pastures. At my age, I want stability and the opportunity to contribute to the company’s long-term future. Furthermore, I know this industry thoroughly. When it’s fourth down and a minute left, do you want to count on the rookie or the seasoned veteran? In business today, it’s almost always fourth down. Mistakes are expensive.”

3. DETERMINE YOUR MARKET VALUE.

An excellent starting point is contacting PinPoint Salary Service at (773) 4-SALARY for a Pay Comparison Analysis of your market value and range. Study compensation ranges carefully and realistically assess your worth in the marketplace. Don’t over-price or under-price yourself. Companies eliminated layers of middle managers partly because, after years of automatic raises, their salaries outstripped their value to the company. Consequently, the scuttlebutt is that you have to accept less to get hired. This isn’t automatically true. Do your research, find your realistic value and don’t settle for less than you’re worth!

It’s tough out there, but you can beat the odds if you are persistent, educate employers about the value of your experience, and play your cards intelligently.