Darien businessmen guide execs through job search
Losing employment is a scary prospect for anyone, and can be especially daunting for those who have never had to search for a job. But a recent publication from two job coaching gurus can help ease the job-hunting process.
Bob Sloane and Tucker Mays are no strangers to the corporate world. Both have extensive experience working as high-level executives. Over the years, Sloane has held positions with Colgate-Palmolive, American Cyanamid's Shulton International division and the National Football League. Mays has an equally impressive resume, having held marketing management positions with Chesebrough Ponds and Miles Laboratories, and he served as a chief operating officer at Avia, Spinergy and Diamondback.
However, both men were dealt a serious blow after they were left unemployed in the '90s and were unsure where to go next. When they realized they had the experience to help people like themselves, they started their own coaching business, OptiMarket LLC, with a focus on coaching former executives to be better job searchers and interviewers.
"We found there were other people like us, so we decided to create a resource to teach and guide people without job search skills," Sloane said.
Even though the skills Sloane and Mays teach their clients can be applied to nearly any job search, they focused their efforts on people who are over 50 and find themselves suddenly unemployed after serving as an executive with a company. One of the biggest impediments for people over 50 looking for executive-level jobs is their age, they said.
"Although companies won't admit it, there is a strong age bias," Mays said. "There's this perception that they [people over 50] have low energy and don't have the most up-to-date technology skills. There is also some concern that older people will have a harder time working for a younger boss."
Another obstacle for that specific age bracket is a lack of job search skills.
"Most of these people have not had to do a job search and executives are the least successful because they never had to do it," Sloane said.
In an effort to help combat the extended unemployment time for many executives, Sloane and Mays combined their knowledge and experience in a new book, "Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge."
"One of the biggest mistakes people make is the way their concentrating their time. Most people spend 20 percent of their time networking and 80 percent of the time trying to get jobs through recruiters," Mays said. "They should actually reverse that and spend 80 percent of their time networking because most people get a job through someone they didn't know before."
Although it may sound counter-intuitive to devote less time to posted listings, Mays pointed out that applying for a listing that is publicly posted is a long shot because you are competing with thousands of other people who have seen the same opening.
"You really want to be getting referrals to jobs that aren't published," Mays said.
As important as networking is, having a clearly defined focus is also crucial to the job search process.
"The first and most difficult challenge is to establish a clear job objective. You need to define the type of company you are looking for and target that industry," Mays said. "The second thing is to develop an advisory board who can help with ideas and provide referrals."
Focusing on the main principles of developing a focus and encouraging clients to spend more time networking and less on job listings are what Sloane and Mays focused their own business around.
"We basically built our business on these principles because people don't know how to get focused and how to network well," Sloane said. "This book will make them better networkers and be better interviewers. We also have a chapter dedicated to negotiating."
For more information about "Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge," visit www.firedat50.com.