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Issue Date: My Turn NE November

Get to Work

Linda Feagler
You expected to eventually retire from your current job, following a good-bye party and sporting a gold watch on your wrist for all your years of loyalty. But instead, you’ve been unceremoniously shown the door due to company downsizing. And, to make matters worse, you haven’t looked for work since gas was $1.35 a gallon.

What now?

James Armstrong explores that question in his new book, “Now What? Discovering Your New Life and Career After 50.”

Armstrong, 61, writes from personal experience. During the 1990s, he was down-sized from three different jobs. “So,” he says, “I did a self-appraisal of what my strengths were. I realized that what I brought to the table was a tremendous ability to get the job done.” Now president of his own sales, marketing and media-representation firm, Armstrong says finding the perfect job is not an impossible dream:

• Begin with a hopeful attitude. “Looking for a job should be your full-time job,” Armstrong says. “You should be working at it for eight to 10 hours a day.” It’s crucial, he adds, to keep in touch with friends, neighbors and former colleagues for possible leads. If you left the company on good terms, don’t be shy about adding your former boss to the list.

• Brush up that resume. Once upon a time, you were undoubtedly told that your resume should be kept to one page. Well, you’ve come a long way since then. Now’s the time to brag about it. “Let’s say there are 10 people with similar qualifications applying for a job,” Armstrong says. “So the central facts you need to include in your resume are your accomplishments.” Don’t be afraid to be specific: Just how did you boost sales at your company? Which professional awards did you win?

If possible, Armstrong recommends assisting your former supervisor in the writing of a recommendation letter: Pen it yourself and e-mail it, asking for an approval or any corrections that need to be made. Request that it be mailed back to you on your former company’s letterhead.

• Never give up. “Contrary to what most job-seekers believe, the newspaper is not a fountain of knowledge when it comes to employment listings,” Armstrong says. “The job creators are not the large corporations which are downsizing. It’s the smaller companies that are creating two, three or five jobs at a time.”

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