Finding a job is always a challenge but in the current economic climate, with on average 50 applicants for every post, it’s a real fight out there. In a world that often seems obsessed by youth it can feel even more daunting for some older workers.
A recent study by researchers from the University of Mannheim in Germany has said that older staff are more productive than their younger colleagues. However, studies like this don’t alleviate the feelings and experience of many mature job seekers who believe that there are less jobs for older people and that many companies will ignore the experience and knowledge of older workers and prefer to employ younger people.
So are there jobs for older people? Of course there are. There are some companies like B & Q the DIY (Do it Yourself) chain in the UK, which have particularly championed jobs for older people, but mature job seekers don’t want to be defined by their age or tied to applying to particular companies. However, some mature job seekers think that the only reason why they’re not being appointed to a job is down to their age rather than anything they might have done themselves. So what can be done?
The advice I would give for any older person looking for a job, is very similar to advice that I would give to anyone applying for a job and going to interviews. Rather than thinking life isn’t fair (which we all know it isn’t), focus on what you can do to increase your chances of being successful and sort out any issues that may be stopping you from getting a job you want. Jobs for older people are there just as they are for anyone else. You need to make any necessary changes and go out and get one.
1. Use a skills based CV rather than a chronological one. I’ve never been a fan of chronological CVs for anyone, because they allow potential employees to focus on your age – young or old. This approach also allows you to focus on the experience you have gained rather than the number of years you have spent gaining the experience.
2. Have faith in yourself . If you don’t believe that any company will employ you because of your age – guess what? It will become a self fulfilling prophecy and you won’t get a job. Even if you’re having to apply for a job at a different level from previous posts examine what added value you would be able to bring to an organisation.
3. Check your skills. Again this is advice that I would give to anyone applying for a new job. If you’re skills are not up-to-date, for example in the area of technology you need to do something about. There are plenty of courses out there if you need support in this area. Also think about the transferable skills that you have from your wealth of experience that you can bring to any new work.
4. Review your appearance. This is not a suggestion that you should try and dress like someone twenty years younger. You need to be yourself, but do make sure that you look up to date.
5. Shout about your experience. When it comes to an interview, do not hold back from selling yourself. You will undoubtedly have unique selling points that can set you apart from your younger rivals. Identify them and shout about them (though not literally of course!). If you’re applying for a post that is at a lower grade than a previous one, the interviewer will want to know that you’re not going to be bored. Remember you want to show them what benefits you can bring to the company.
So if you’re an older person looking for a job, don’t think that employers are not looking to appoint more mature workers. There are jobs for older people, younger people and everyone age in between. The trick always is to make sure that you are able to show why you are the ideal candidate for the job. If you can do that, you age will be irrelevant.