OK I have to confess that i’m actually 39 and not 40 but as its only months away and it made for a more dramatic title I went for the big four-oh.
A month ago I found myself made redundant. It came as a bit of a shock but was not unexpected for a number of reasons I won’t go into. This meant that once again I was back on the market and in need of work. This was made more urgent in that we’ve just bought a new house and are only 2 months away from having our first child.
In the past finding work hasn’t been much of an issue and to date I have never been out of work. This time was different and I will explain why.
With over 16 years experience in digital marketing its safe to say that I’ve done pretty much everything and have a large body of knowledge that i find useful in my day to day work. From designing new brand identities and creating brochures through to web design, conversion rate optimisation, social media and email marketing not to mention my current vocation as an SEO, you’d think people were champing at the bit for a guy with my expertise.
At 40 you have many things working against you that as a younger marketeer you’d never encounter.
- Moderately high living costs & commitments
- A generous salary expectation
- The realisation that you need a work-life balance
This all prices you out of a majority of exec positions leaving only the few and far between management roles. On several occasions even though I had been quite explicit about my salary expectations with recruiters I was placed in interviews where the feedback were simply “We don’t have a role for someone at your level”.
Whats more, my wealth of experience was seen as a negative with employers asking “will the constraints of this role be enough for you?”
The fact that in over 16 years I’ve had 8 jobs working both client and agency side was also a massive concern despite this giving me in-house experience and the ability to design and implement many processes and systems needed to run a department. Interviewers asked “Will you stick around?” I understand that during the recent credit crunch many people hunkered down and stayed in the same role but people seem to have forgotten that prior to this talent moved around fairly fluidly.
All of this baffled me.
Yes, i am experienced in a wide range of digital design and marketing techniques. This gives me a clear understanding of how everything fits together and where efficiencies can be made to the betterment of all and dare i say it, i am worth the money.
That’s not to say I know it all… just that the benefits are clear.
To sum up my experience:
- Many agencies have open job roles that seem to be purely about finding out how other businesses work and not about getting talented people in
- You will be approached by as many as 6 recruiters for a single role that may or may not be suitable for you
- Your first few interviews will be awful as you’re still getting used to the interview process so keep some of your better interview requests for later
- Being the first person a business has interviewed is both good and bad. You’ll be one they remember however they themselves will be getting used to interviewing so wont know to ask the best questions which probably means you wont get the role.
- Leave your personality at the door, businesses aren’t interested in that
- Tailor your CV and discussions to the job specification (if you’re lucky enough to get one)
- You won’t get feedback from a majority of your interviews
- Apply direct. Many roles on Monster and Indeed wont be offered to you so go and get them
- Check your spam folder. Many of the responses to your requests will be spammed by default
Lucky for me I’m now in a role doing what i do best, technical SEO and account management in one of the UK’s top digital marketing agencies.