Taken from an article in CHOICE Magazine March 2013

Top tips for older jobseekers

Job-finding expert Chris Ball, Chief Exec of The Age and Employment network (TAEN) has this advice to help older workers tackle the often difficult path back to gainful employment 

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THERE’S NO disguising the fact the over-50s are bearing the brunt of unemployment. Recent government figures show the number of people aged 50 and over out of work for at least 12 months is on the increase.

Running at 45.2 per cent, this age group constitutes the largest proportion of the long-term unemployed. For those who want or need to work, it is worrying and dispiriting.

However, while there is always the blame game of actual or perceived age discrimination, lack of retraining opportunities or poorly trained staff in the local support agency, there are things that can be done
to increase the chance of finding a job.

1 HAVE YOU TRIED YOUR NEAREST CONTACTS?

Use your social and professional contacts to access new job prospects. Attend relevant events, make new introductions and follow up on them, and do not be too proud or embarrassed to admit to your friends that you are open for job opportunities. They may know the person who takes hiring decisions in an organisa-
tion. If given a contact, write to the named person with a one-page CV, explaining how much you admire the company’s work and that you would like any opportunity, however short-term. Suggest you are available to pop in and have a chat.

2 EXPLORE NEW POSSIBILITIES

A break in career might just be the opportunity you need to achieve greater self-fulfilment, so think laterally about the kind of work you seek. Be willing to use other skills gained in hobbies or voluntary work, or to return to past interests discarded in the pursuit of a professional career. You may be surprised to discover a potential you did not know existed.

3 APPRAISE YOUR SKILLS OBJECTIVELY

It is important to review your skills in order to get an understanding of what you have to offer future employ-
ers, and how best to market yourself. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and unique selling points is important. This will help you to promote the qualities that set you apart from the rest of the job applicants.

4 REFRESH YOUR CV… CONSTANTLY

The days of the single CV have gone. In this time of stiff competition for limited jobs, it is essential to be fluid in your approach to CV writing. Have a core CV highlighting all your skills, but approach each job application with the precision of a couturier. Make sure you understand what the application requires and strip your CV of any unnecessary details. This has the added advantage of making your CV more concise. Take this same approach with covering letters.

5 BE STRATEGIC

Looking for a job is an art in itself. Be selective. Look for the jobs that fit the skill sets you have to offer rather than simply sending off as many applications you can find time to do.

6 BE REALISTIC

Come to terms with the fact that it may be necessary to lower your salary sights to get a foot in the door. Also be prepared to be flexible about your terms of employment such as work hours and conditions.

7 HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS

After several rebuttals, job-seeking might shake your faith in your own abilities. So when an opportunity does arise, emphasise your experience and skills in a way that shows how you can add value to the
organisation. Some employers do not employ older jobseekers because of the fear that the latter may be unwilling to discard old viewpoints and learn new things. Make sure you reflect your adaptability.

8 YOUR AGE

Don’t mention your age but don’t be defensive about it either if you are asked. Direct the focus to the position at hand and act positively and enthusiastically.

9 PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING

Look bright and alert for interviews. Find someone to help you conduct a practice interview. Older workers
often score in the skills department, but employers are also influenced by things like appearance and dress.

10 AND WHILE YOU’RE WAITING ...

Keep busy with projects that interest you or that offer something towards your career goal. It also gives you
something to fill in your CV to account for the time out of work. Don’t be discouraged by refusals – keep going.

Find out more

• There are useful links as well as more tips on topics such as overcoming barriers, training and skills, and how the age regulations affect your employment rights, on the TAEN website: (www.taen.org.uk).

On the home page of the website, you will find: (www.50plusworks.com/)

• Resources such as The Work Programme and AgePositive by the Department of Work and Pensions
are also available to provide support for older jobseekers.

more to follow …