One of the toughest nuts to crack in our current workforce statistics is the number of older people suffering unemployment for 12 months or more – some 192,000 JC Ready 4 Works last count. Many people who have had successful careers and developed excellent skills and experience can find the current job market frustrating and discouraging. Why is this?
Employers’ perceptions of older people are a major barrier. Hirers often have a mental picture of the person they want and this can include the unspoken assumption that the appointee will be significantly younger than themselves.
A survey by the Age and Employment Network (TAEN) found that more than two-thirds of older job seekers believed their difficulties stemmed from being “too old.” Nearly half believed they were viewed as “too experienced” and were rejected for a variety of reasons, including because “they are too big for this job” or “you would be bored by this”.
It seems that older job seekers lose on both counts. If they don’t have directly relevant experience in the same role and sector, no one wants to give them a chance, but there are virtually no internships or work experience programmes for older people. For example, if they lack the IT skills of younger job seekers, many assume that they can’t or won’t learn. Moreover, training grants, which are widely available for younger job seekers, are less common for the older person. The skills and qualifications structure has changed enormously and older job seekers are less likely to have the proof of vocational competence. Many older jobseekers feel frustrated because their practical know-how is excellent but many struggle to even get interviews.
But there are ways older jobseekers can improve their chances of employment. Here are a few tips to give you extra confidence and demonstrate your employability:
We can look at your strengths
You need to know what skills you have that employers will find useful. The skills you have honed over decades will only get you work if they are required. Conversely, many people also have transferable skills that they don’t even realise.
Review your key strengths, identify weaknesses and draw up a personal action plan with practical steps on how to move forward in your career. Think long and hard before committing yourself to study for a paper qualification, but if there is a way of accrediting your existing competencies this could be beneficial.
Be prepared to take a “bridge job” or even a volunteering role for short spell to help fill an important gap in your skills profile – it will impress employers that you are not afraid to learn and can act strategically.
We will refresh your CV
The whole idea of a single paper version of your CV is passé; make sure you can send it electronically. The first page must make the reader want to scroll down for more and must be free of CV jargon. Take advice from friends as to whether it looks professional, neat and clean.
Keep your core CV that includes most of what you want to put down, and then look carefully at what is required for each job and offer a fresh and relevant CV for each application. Strip out all the stuff you don’t need; make it relevant and apply transferable skills. Try and fit it on two pages.
If you don’t receive a response to your application, check it has been received and if you do not hear back, ask for feedback.
Do you have to mention your age?
No but don’t be defensive about it. Display confidence, energy and professionalism and stress your key assets.
Changing jobs in the same field
If you have spent years in one job this is where you may feel most comfortable in searching for work. Your contacts may be able to give you early hints of upcoming jobs; find out who to write to and get in early with an informal email and attach your CV. Say that you are interested in any future career openings – even to fill in at short notice as this can lead to something longer term.
We will support you changing career path
You may decide to change your career and do something that has always interested you. Such changes can be more difficult to make in mid-life – it would be difficult to train as a lawyer in your 50s, for example. If you are willing to take a course or two or get voluntary experience, however, it is possible. You will need to stand out ahead of other applicants so putting in extra effort will show the added value you could bring.
We will mentor you through Self-employment
This is often considered an attractive option by older people who have tried unsuccessfully to get back into employment. But is likely to entail a good deal of work. You will have to learn to be self-sufficient or you may need to take a business course. This option can be fulfilling, however, and for many older people being your own boss can be a welcome relief.
At JC Ready 4 Work we can assess your skills and ability transferring your achievement into a more positive sustainable enjoyable employment journey, we can offer you expert advice / over 50s work placements to enhance your opportunities or even just re-look at your CV to make it more sector specific, we work with various employers that will give you feedback and simulated interviews with local employers so you can gain true feedback.