How To Stay Employable Over 50

How To Stay Employable Over 50

Driven out of your job by the pandemic but not quite ready to retire? Looking for a career reboot? Or maybe you want to get back into working after time out? Whichever it is, it helps to brush up your skills and stay relevant in the workplace. Here’s how the experts recommend you do just that…
Photography: iSTOCK/KUPICOO

Establish Your Priorities

Before you start sending out CVs or calling up different companies to see whether they have any vacancies, it’s important to understand what it is you want from a future career. Ask yourself: what do you want from a potential new role, especially if you compare it to a job or career you might have had up until this point? Is it less stress or greater flexibility? More creativity or new skills? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to tailor your job search accordingly. 
“When changing careers, it’s important to consider the type of lifestyle you want and how your job change will support that lifestyle,” explains Jennifer Parris from FlexJobs. “Many prefer a new career at or after 50 with more work-life balance, or a career that will help them minimise stress and spend more time enjoying personal hobbies and interests. Before you decide, though, think about the lifestyle you hope to support with that career, and you’ll have a better sense of what you’re looking for in terms of salary and flexible work.”

Know Your Strengths & Skills

“Think about your strengths and any transferable skills you possess,” advise the team at Jobsite. “There are various online tools to help you determine where your strengths lie but enlisting the help of friends and family can be useful, too. If you took time out of work for motherhood, think about the skills you’ve learnt – multi-tasking, people management and communication skills are all transferable.” 
Brie Reynolds, FlexJobs’ career development manager and coach, has this to add: “What job search ageism is really about is the employer’s fear that a professional will be out of touch, or not interested in learning new things, or set in their ways. Job seekers over 50 need to show that they’re comfortable with technology, comfortable working for managers who may be significantly younger than them and that their extensive experience isn’t going to stop them from getting in and getting their hands dirty, so to speak.”

Stamp Out Worries Of Ageism

With that said, it’s worth bearing in mind that the UK has now made significant strides in stamping out ageism – otherwise known as discriminating against an employee or a potential employee on the grounds of their age. “There is now robust legislation to make it hard for employers to dismiss employees on the grounds of their age or to refuse to hire you on account of your age,” explains Simon Broomer from CV Library. “So, your concerns about your age acting against you as a job seeker should be considerably less than, say, ten years ago.”

Rewrite Your CV & Update Your LinkedIn Profile

“Adjust your CV to a skills-based format, focusing on your abilities rather than your previous roles,” advise the Jobsite team. “Avoid drawing attention to your age by emphasising the year you began work or by including out-of-date terminology, organisation names or qualifications. Also avoid listing more than ten years’ work experience. If you’re unsure, you could hire a professional CV writer. Also, ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, and if you don’t have one, get one. It’s essentially an online CV, but also a place where you can connect with other people in your industry and discover new job opportunities.”
Job seekers of any age in search of a new career field should make a significant effort to rebrand themselves, agrees Brie. “Small things like having a current profile picture on LinkedIn, using a popular email platform like Gmail, or addressing your cover letter with ‘Dear Team at XYZ Company’ instead of ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ can help employers continue on to the important pieces of the resume without getting distracted by age red flags.”

When changing careers, it’s important to consider the type of lifestyle you want and how your job change will support that lifestyle.
Jennifer Parris

Get Social Media Savvy 

“A break between one job and the next can give you the chance to pick up new skills that you may have missed out on,” explains Simon. “Many of the over-50s entered the workforce when desktop computers were in their infancy. While you might know how to touch type or write in shorthand, how about taking a short course in social media skills to stay up to date with technology? One or two days will be enough to put you ahead of the pack.”

Build A Network & Consider A Career Coach

Reinventing yourself ahead of a new career may well require some additional support from friends and family. Let them know what you’d like to do and enlist their help. If, however, you’d like some additional support, consider hiring a career coach. Brie explains: “One of the most common topics people talk to FlexJobs career coaches about is ageism and being an older job seeker. Coaches can help job seekers identify what they’re already doing well and pinpoint areas for improvement to guard against ageism. For many folks in this position, they haven’t had to search for a new job in a long time, and things have changed quite a lot.”
“A career coach provides an external influence to help focus your thoughts, set goals, keep you on track and act as a cheerleader,” explain the Jobsite team. “Also, network, network, network. Speak to friends, former colleagues and associates to find out more about new careers, get introductions to the right contacts and learn about jobs that aren’t advertised.”

Retrain Or Head Back To Education

“Retraining for a new career at 50 is entirely possible and it could transform your life,” advises the Jobsite team. “Of course, there are risks, but, if you take the time to understand what interests and motivates you, you’ll be able to target a career you feel truly passionate about. To get an idea of the qualifications, skills and experience to develop during your training, search online for current vacancies or reach out to people already in the industry. This will help you determine the right retraining route.”
If you discover you lack some of the skills and expertise required, it’s a good idea to brush up. “Job seekers over 50 need to show employers that they are interested and open to learning new things and that they regularly engage in learning on their own. Independently taking a professionally related class or earning a new certification can show employers that you’re self-motivated to do the continuous learning that they prize,” says Brie.

Consider Self-Employment

“When starting your job hunt as an over 50, you need to research the economy and find where the new jobs are,” says Simon. “Think about whether there are ways to re-package your skills and previous experience to position yourself for a different kind of career opportunity. You may need to complete some additional training – and this does not always involve a significant investment of time and/or money.”
You could also consider setting up your own business. “A report by Hitachi Capital and CEBR shows that entrepreneurs over 50 are outpacing younger age groups in the creation of new jobs. Also, UK Labour Force Survey data shows the over 50s make up 45% of the UK’s self-employed workforce, employing over 10 million people – 10 million people can’t be wrong now.”

Finally, Test the Waters

“It’s not enough to want to have a new career after 50; you should also try it out before committing,” warns Jennifer. “So, look for ways in which you can test out your new career, such as getting a (paid) adult internship or even a part-time or flexible job in your new-found area of interest. That first-hand experience will help you determine if this job type – and industry as a whole – is a true fit for you.”
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