Article by Ceri Wheeldon
I have lost track of how many times I have heard individuals in their 50s and beyond say that there was no point in even trying to look for a new job as their age would count against them.
Why would you assume that?
Accepting defeat before you even start is a self perpetuating prophesy. Think of the positives you are able to offer an employer even in light of the pandemic.
You have a wealth of experience you can bring to an employer
You have a wealth of experience you can bring to an employer – and far from being averse to learning new technology research has shown that it is older workers who are most willing to adapt and embrace new technology in the workplace, having the ability to see the bigger picture and how it will enable them to be more effective or productive.
Your life experience has enabled you to develop excellent communication scales spanning the generations.
You are used to problem solving.
You have demonstrated that you are adaptable – just look at how much the workplace has changed since you started your first job!
You are confident in your skills and are likely to require very little supervision – an asset in the new ‘normal’ with many being encouraged to work from home.
You are not looking for work to create your social life – you are well established in your life – again a plus when working from home. You can focus!
Any children you may have are likely to be older – so will not be a distraction in respect to home schooling should there be another lockdown.
You are able to mentor less senior members of staff.
You have witnessed many crises over the years – and have survived them all – perhaps even thrived!
You know your strengths and weaknesses and are able to play to the former and compensate for the latter.
A positive attitude and self confidence is key when you embark on any job search.
Before you start you must truly understand your skills and value to a potential employer – if you are at all unsure then the marketable skills assessment module in the Careers section of the Midlife MOT programme would be a good starting point ( it is currently available to buy as a stand alone module) .
Set yourself goals and have a plan. You need to be organised in your job search and structure your activities to maximise your potential at every stage. Be focused – research sectors and companies that are likely to provide you with the greatest chance of success of securing work. Network with old colleagues, industry groups, school alumni. Join groups on Linkedin and participate in discussions.
Set yourself up to succeed not fail! Only apply for jobs that you know you have the skills and experience for- and that you would like to do! You don’t have to have 100% of the skills/experience sought. In my headhunting days I used to look for an 80% fit when pulling together my shortlist – although some core skills were weighted more heavily than others. If there are elements of the requirements that you don’t possess , but you are confident that you can demonstrate that you can overcome any perceived shortfall, then make a value judgement as to whether you should still apply. Do the 80% positive aspects you can bring to the role more than compensate for the 20% you may lack? Be honest with yourself – if you are positive then hopefully the potential employer will be too.
Age should not be a barrier to success – in any area of life. With the right mindset and the right approach to your job search it could even be an advantage!
With over 25 years experience as a headhunter gained in North America , the UK and Europe, I have coached countless individuals through the interview process and understand how employers make hiring decisions. My work the over 50s over the past decade makes me ideally placed to offer comprehensive advice on looking for employment and career change over 50. In addition to my Midlife MOT programme I am also able to offer job search coaching on a one to one basis for a small number of individuals. Do get in touch if this is of interest!