Navigating This Tough Job Market At Any Age

Navigating this tough job market isn't the same for every age, according to Gary Burnison, chief executive of Korn/Ferry International (KFY), one of the world's largest search firms.

Even in this down market , job seekers should keep in mind that "people don't go to jobs but jobs go to people," Burnison said.

This employment market may be the toughest for youngest and the newest to the workforce, those in their twenties. It's not easy trying to land your first job when you're competing for an entry-level position with mid-level workers also vying for a job. Burnison says there's a trend among younger people taking part-time roles or extending their internships, the unpaid ones.
"You're looking for any foot in the door," he said, adding that it could be a good way to be the first person in line once a position does become available. Also, the following sectors may look the most appealing for younger job seekers right now: healthcare, life sciences and education.

Job seekers in their thirties often find their net worth and network is usually widening. Burnison said to maximize career potential by participating in professional associations and taking on more project work in this downward market. If you are unemployed, this may be the perfect time to go for that advanced degree, if that's something you've been considering pursuing.

Burnison advised job seekers in their forties, who are typically at their peak earning potential, to "move more into a true consultant role." He also said to "position yourself in the expert level."

For job seekers in their fifties to stay competitive, flexibility is key, Burnison said. "People in their thirties and forties are willing to take jobs for less" making them competitive with older job seekers with more experience. Burnison also says people in their fifties should look for longer range consultant projects.

Burnison's tips for all ages: be flexible, network and be willing to relocate.