We’re living longer, and working longer- some of us continue to work through choice, and others through financial necessity.
With the state pension age edging closer and closer towards 70, whereas at one point as we approached 50 we might have anticipated slowing down in our working lives- now at 50 we are practically mid career.
But how do we ensure that we remain employable over 50? Most of the readers here know me as the founder of Fab after Fifty- what many don’t realise is that I have had a career for more than 25 years as an international hunter, working on assignments in the UK, US, Canada and across Europe – so I do know just a little about what employers look for during the recruitment process – and what needs to be done for someone to be marketable.
When employers look to recruit the right person for their team – it is not just about the skills ( I have written lots of articles on keeping your skills up to date). You may have several candidates with similar skills on paper- so it is the other elements that come into play.
It is essential that we all keep our skills up to date to remain employable over 50 and 60, but it is also vital that we look at the other essentials too.
Do we still have enthusiasm for what we do and can we demonstrate that we have the flexibility to change and grow with the organisation? Are we ‘current’ in how we communicate and see life around us. We may not need technology to do our specific job, but technology plays a part in most companies and in the lives of colleagues. We must demonstrate that we can communicate with colleagues across the generations – and this includes being comfortable with some knowledge of how your colleagues communicate in both work and personal aspects of their lives- whether that be twitter, facebook, linkedin, instagram, google plus – you cannot ignore their existence or it will set you apart.
Are you presenting yourself as someone who others would actually enjoy working with? Would you be a positive addition to the team?
Are you healthy – and do you LOOK as though you are healthy. Much is made of ageism in the recruitment process, but I always say that you may not be the youngest person on the interview shortlist – but you can certainly look as though you are one of the healthiest!
We must take accountability for our own health. Both diet and exercise play their part- but we can also make sure that we are taking the right steps now to be employable and have a better quality of life for longer. I spoke to occupational health specialist and private GP Dr Justine Setchell of 92 Harley Street about what steps she would recommend we take to safeguard our own health and prolong our ability to be able to work effectively.
“Think prevention. There are standard checkups available through the NHS such as mammograms and smear tests – take advantage of these and don’t miss them. There are other simple tests, however, in areas that you may be at risk in regarding your health that you may want to look at independently – such as a bone density test. If there is a history of osteoporosis in your family, you smoke or are naturally thin, it is worth having a test like this done privately – it costs about £150 but could really identify a potential problem early. Similarly many women in their 50s feel tired and put it down to the menopause, whereas it could well be their thyroid which is an issue or a hormonal imbalance creating the issue. There are specific blood tests which can identify these issues. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming an increasing problem – we’ve all been applying high factor sunscreens to ward off skin cancer and wrinkles – but in doing so we have inadvertently created a problem in our vitamin D levels, and good levels of vitamin D are essential for bone health- this is also worth getting checked.
Taking accountability for your own health is important. We are all used servicing our cars – but what about our bodies? If you feel that your own GP does not have the time to spend to really sit down with you to understand your own health, and devise a plan for you to adopt today to live healthily and productively in the future, then look at the option of visiting a private GP. You will need to pay for your appointment, but appointments are generally a lot longer and a private GP may have access to relevant tests not funded by the NHS. If women want to prolong their working lives then it is essential that taking care of their health becomes a priority.”
How do you present yourself at job interviews? Do you come across as being confident? Do you look well pulled together in terms of what you’re wearing?
Are you flexible in your approach to work?
How well prepared are you for your interviews – and how much do you actually know about the company you are you applying to. It is essential that the company and its working culture is right for you – as well as you being right for the company. How flexible are you in your approach to work? If for you the social aspect of going to work is as important as the work itself but the company has a policy of encouraging home working, then you may find that working in isolation is not for you. Similarly if they work on the basis of ‘hot-desking’, but you are someone who needs to have your own defined space to work at – then the culture may not be right for you. Unless you can change your own expectations to meet those of the company and still be happy and productive.
Women over 50 and 60 make great employees – but it is essential that we invest in ourselves so that employers are willing to invest in us.