Midlife can and should be the best years of our lives, but they can often fall short if we let life get in the way. To ensure they are the best, Readers.com asked topic experts to share special advice on everything from healthy living to planning for retirement. Our experts’ uplifting stories will inspire you to approach every situation with a Glass(es) Half Full mentality, so check back each month for more in this series and like us on Facebook for additional tips!

Today’s post features a professional who is more than just your typical career coach. Laura Schlafly has a passion for guiding midlife professionals through career changes. Whether her clients want to switch fields, build a new career from scratch, or simply investigate their opportunities, Laura has the experience to help them! She’s successfully switched career paths five times and wants to share what she’s learned with other midlife professionals. Read more about Laura’s story on her Career Choices website and check out her excellent advice on searching for a new job below!

Laura Schlafly: Career Expert

If you’re over 50, you might remember the 1970s television series, Columbo, starring Peter Falk as the Los Angeles homicide detective, Lt. Columbo. Every episode began with the commission of a crime. We all knew the perpetrator from scene one. The thrill was not from finding out who the criminal was, but watching Columbo work backwards and solve the case, clue by clue.

Searching for a new job can often feel like solving a case. In order to land on the right opportunity, you have to do some digging as you piece together the clues of your job search. Use these six crime-solving techniques, just like Lt. Columbo, to lead you in the right direction on your career detour.

1. Design your career first.

Search for the job only after you know what you want. This key point applies to everything, from custom crafting your resume, to targeting the companies you want to work for and the people you want to interview. Single-minded focus is the key here. Columbo always started his detective work with the outcome, then looked for the clues that led to it.

2. Pay attention to workplace fit.

This is important so that you don’t accidentally end up in the wrong job. Analyze what you enjoy, how you work, and what kind of work makes you proud. Jobs that showcase your talents and brilliance are where you should focus. Columbo’s work style was perfectly on point. His unassuming, affable manner always kept the perpetrator off guard.

3. Look for opportunities that present problems you know how to solve.

If you’re over 50, you have expert knowledge that an employer needs to tackle problems. This is your advantage over younger workers. Find companies facing challenges where your experience gives you an edge. Just like Columbo, be persistent and ask the right questions when researching opportunities.

4. Don’t cast a wide net.

By the time you hit midlife, you probably have expertise in more than one area. Yes, do research the jobs that fit, but hold back on applying until you’ve defined what you want. Remember, a well-aimed rifle is more effective than shotgun spray. This is how Columbo would do it — working from general to more specific clues as he closed in on his suspect.

5. Search creatively.

Columbo would never follow a single trail of inquiry. Likewise, just replying to online postings is no way to find a job. Managers prefer to interview and hire people they know, or who are referred by people they trust, so don’t wait until a job in your desired company is made public. Connect in advance with the decision makers and give them a concise proposal of results you could deliver. When a position does open, you are already known, which is much more effective than any resume.

6. Repeat steps 1-5.

Columbo kept after the suspect, with his classic line, “Just one more thing…” That’s pestering — your strategy is persisting. It’s easy to throw in the towel after a rejection and focus on the negative. Instead, keep it positive by using neutral statements like “another candidate was selected” and remembering that you are one step closer to a “yes.” It’s not a crime to get a “no,” but it’s criminal not to keep at it.

Laura, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with our Readers family! Don’t forget, you can read more of Laura’s career advice on her website