"If you're over 50 and laid off, you can forget about finding another good job."
These words came from a 60-something friend, a survivor of dozens of layoffs at a large tech company. As a career coach, I'm sorry to report that my experience shows that she echoes what many boomers think.
I'll concede that there's a grain of truth to what my friend is saying (times are tough and many jobs have gone overseas). That said, I also believe that plenty of out-of-work Americans in their 50s and 60s need to stop making excuses and start getting realistic about their job searches.
These are the six excuses I hear most often and my "no excuses" advice to deal with them:
Excuse No. 1: "My resumé is just going into a black hole."
Don't blame the black hole. Blame yourself for an outdated job-search strategy.
(MORE: Why Aren't Older Unemployed Americans Getting Hired?)
A resumé might have helped you stand out 10 years ago. But today, with an abundant supply of middle-aged job seekers, your experience and credentials make you just one in a crowd.
My "no excuses" advice: Work on ways to differentiate yourself as a job candidate and to create meaningful relationships with people who can help you get hired. Both can pay off more than hitting the submit button on another online job post.
Make a list of 10 things that set you apart from your peers and ask your friends to validate the list. Then reach out to five people you’ve lost touch with who might know of job openings. Set a time to catch up and when the conversation turns to you, tell them how you'd like to make a significant impact in your next job, applying your "special sauce."
You should also get your unique talents and expertise into your LinkedIn profile (which shouldn't be a cut and paste version of your resumé). According to a Jobvite survey in 2012, 93 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Next Avenue has an article I wrote showing how to make your LinkedIn profile compelling.
Excuse No. 2: "I can’t afford to take a pay cut."
Time to face reality: The last job you had, at that pay scale, may not exist anymore.
My "no excuses" advice: Take a hard look at your expenses and how much income you really need to cover them. Create a "minimum threshold" budget you can live with then explore alternatives to trim your daily living costs. If you have kids about to enter college, consider a wide range of schools with different tuition prices.
And remember that there are plenty of other criteria beyond pay. You might want to work somewhere that offers you the potential to make an impact on the world, stimulate your intellectual curiosity or serve as a stepping stone to future opportunities.
When you're job-hunting, never forget to factor in what I like to call the "Happiness Quotient."