Help, I’m over 50 looking for work!

Despite the law protecting against age discrimination, the over 50s can feel overlooked for career opportunities, and find it takes longer to secure a new role.

Employers, they feel, make assumptions and generalisations about how expensive they may be to hire, how long they will stay, their fit in a younger team and their level of technology skills.

So how do you minimise bias and counter those negative assumptions? Here are our top tips.

Facelift your CV

CV styles change over time so make sure that yours is current in terms of format. Curriculum Vitae or CV as the title for example, will stand out as old-fashioned, as will the wrong choice of typeface. Arial, Calibri or Tahoma are more modern.

Create a new email address that you use exclusively for job search and networking; a Googlemail address is very current and beware of including your date of birth within your email address.

You do not need to include either your date of birth or the dates for your educational background.

Whilst your CV is a historical record of your work history, the challenge for the over 50s is how to showcase your background without coming across as too experienced. Focus on the last 15 years with detail and dates and add an earlier career section that summarises your other experience briefly. This will ensure that you keep your CV to the desired two pages and focus on what is relevant and recent.

Play to your strengths

If you are applying for positions where your current or past employment has been in an unrelated function it may be beneficial to create a CV with a career profile and skills and achievements section on the first page to signpost your relevance to the employer. The chronological employment history then follows. The key here is focusing on relevant competencies, and where you have added real and recent value to previous employers.

Be social media savvy

Don’t reinforce stereotypes by not having a LinkedIn profile; not only does this mean that you are invisible to direct employers and recruitment agencies, but it reinforces the generalisation that you are not functioning in today’s professional world. Include a link to your profile on your CV.

LinkedIn also allows you to find and research target organisations and contacts to approach, to prepare for interview and to raise your profile in your profession by joining and interacting with others in groups and forums.

Use Twitter to follow and interact with thought leaders in your chosen field and keep current on news. Sign up for Twitter job alerts to be one of the first to hear about new opportunities posted by both employers and recruiters.

Positively embracing age?

An increasing number of organisations recognise the value of an age diversified workforce and see benefits with mentoring, knowledge sharing and a strong work ethic. Look out for those organisations that positively embrace an older employee profile and have gone so far as to design flexible hours and employee benefits packages specifically to attract them.

Networking

Over your career you will have built up more than 25 years of contacts; school and university alumni, ex-colleagues, suppliers and customers. Work deep and long in your networking efforts identifying where your contacts are now and do not be afraid to contact someone you last had contact with many years ago.

Consider a different route to employment

If permanent full-time opportunities are proving hard to come by, perhaps you could exploit your expertise and know-how working as a consultant, a mentor or a non-executive director. Self-employment is proving to be increasingly attractive to the over 50s particularly through franchising which provides the freedom and challenge of business ownership within a proven financial model.

To get further expert advice specific to your own career situation you may wish to work with a career coach who can be a great help with planning your job search and marketing yourself appropriately.

Jo Thurman
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Jo Thurman

Jo is a career and outplacement coach with an absolute passion for helping people reach their potential, to have confidence in their employability and to know how to find and secure work that they love. For more than 25 years, she has supported and guided individuals to make good career decisions and achieve career success; from those starting out as new graduates through to board level appointments. She has partnered with startups to multinationals across all major industries and job functions in both the UK and Europe to identify great talent and great cultural fits.