Article by Ceri Wheeldon
The perception of retirement is changing – with many choosing or needing to work beyond the traditional retirement age. But do YOU have the skills required to be employable in today’s market?
With decades of experience under your belt , it can be easy to get stuck in an employment rut, and when looking for new opportunities essentially present your most recent job spec to market your skills to prospective employers. Have you actually sat down and really understood which of the skills you’ve acquired have a value, and in some cases command a premium in today’s market.
Over the past 10 years have you continued to develop your professional skills and grown within your career ( and enhance your employability) or have you stagnated , essentially using well honed skills on a repeated basis but not creating more personal value within the workplace.
How to identify your marketable skills
List all aspects of your role over the last 5 – 10 years. Break down the elements that have enabled you to be successful. What have been your key strengths in your current or most recent role.
Technical skills – the skills needed to actually perform the task. Have you kept them up to date? Are your professional accreditations current? Do you need to take any courses to bring your skills up to speed? Have you attended industry conferences to understand what is driving your sector, and how your skills might need to be adapted to play a role moving forward in the future? Are your strengths in consultancy – such as change management? Are you up to date with the various tools and techniques that are being used by the forward thinking firms winning the business? Be honest in your assessment and identify your strengths and any gaps that need to be addressed.
Domain/Industry knowledge – Does your value lay in your knowledge of a specific sector? Do you know the food retail market inside out? Are an expert in managing and driving change within the public sector? How much does your knowledge of a specific sector factor in your success? Is the sector growing and would that knowledge be in demand or even command a premium? Do you have an understanding of how competitors do things which could be used to good effect in a new role ( taking into account any non-disclosure agreements of course!)
Contacts – If you have a long career in sales /business development- how strong and current is your contact base? Would attending industry events to network help you to reconnect with previous contacts or forge new meaningful connections? How strong is your network on sites such as LinkedIn?
Communication skills Can you demonstrate strong communication skills dealing with all levels (and age groups) within your organisation. The way we communicate in the workplace has changed dramatically over the past decade. Face to face meetings have in many instances been replaced with communication via video – whether via skype, google hangouts or teleconferencing. How comfortable are you in front of the camera? In many industries there is now a need to demonstrate expertise with a strong online presence – do you have or need sufficient exposure on social media to be seen as the ‘go to’ expert in your field?
Technology Smart use of technology has become a major part of roles at all levels of an organisation. Can you demonstrate that this is an area you are comfortable with and can use to advantage in your role?
Team/Cultural fit. Can you describe the culture of your current employer and indicate how you have thrived within it? Have you worked for a company undergoing major change – how did you thrive through the change?
Achievements. What have you achieved and how can you demonstrate that your success can be repeated?
Transferable skills Look at all the elements you have broken down. Take an honest look at which are transferable. Which would have the greatest value in today’s job market? Which should you be prioritising on your CV during your job search or highlighting on your Linkedin profile? Are your actual skills transferable to another full time role, or would elements of your skills be better packaged in a consultancy/ subcontractor role or even in a portfolio working environment?
Should you be focussing your search on role where the likelihood of success is based on the weighting attributed to your technical skills – or should you be targeting potential employers where your sector/competitor knowledge is of greater interest?
To be marketable in the workplace in your 50s and 60s you need to ensure that your skills and market knowledge are current, and that you can demonstrate that you have the flexibility to change in a fast moving job market.
If you want to explore your marketability in the job market further, there is a very comprehensive careers module in the MidLife MOT programme, with video instruction and a workbook taking you through all aspects of your midlife career.