Beating the Age Barrier
The perception amongst many is that people are still being turned down for jobs because they are considered too old. That's why leading recruitment organisation Kelly Services has put together different ways to beat the Age Barrier and succeed at work.
Taking stock and looking around
If you aren't sure about what type of work you want, take stock of your own situation and think about:
- your strengths and areas for further development
- what motivates you
- your interests
- your financial needs
- your flexibility in terms of hours/location
There are many different places for you to consider looking including: job centres, recruitment agencies, newspapers, radio, internet, approaching employers direct and Training and Enterprise Councils.
Preparing your CV
You will either have to fill in a job application form or provide a CV which gives you the chance to sell yourself. If possible devise a standard CV and then tailor it for specific job vacancies - this can often mean the difference between an interview and rejection.
Update your skills
Keeping your skills up to date is one of the most important aspects of beating the age barrier so that you can effectively compete with younger applicants. Whatever your line of business try to ensure that you are not passed over for company training and let it be known that you are keen to take advantage of any training opportunities. If you don't have a working knowledge of computers, now may be the time to put that right. There are many different courses to choose from including day and evening, distance learning, full time and part time, run by your local education authority at Adult Education Centres or by private colleges.
If you are registered for work with an employment agency such as Kelly you may well be eligible for free office technology training where you can learn at your own pace and in your own time.
When applying for jobs, writing letters or attending interviews remember to focus on your achievements - you will probably have done much more than a younger applicant and this could work well in your favour. Be specific about what you have done and try to give results. For instance, if you regularly organise social functions give the salient details, the budget you worked to, the number of people you organised, the publicity you generated or the money you raised. If you attend committee meetings again use this to demonstrate that you can be an effective member of a team. If you take the minutes it will show that you have secretarial skills. Life skills are something that cannot be learned - they come from experience. Your ability to handle more than one project at once, your negotiation skills, power of diplomacy and tact are all attributes which are refined with age and which are eagerly sought by many employers. The art of skilful communication comes with many years of practice!
Around two thirds of the best opportunities for the over 45's come through contacts so it's important to keep in touch with business colleagues. If you have a professional magazine read it to keep in touch with what is happening and who is doing what. Don't turn down opportunities to meet other professionals whatever their age and always be positive about your own career prospects. If you don't believe in yourself you can't expect others to do so.
Look the part
They say you are only as old as you look, so look the part. Don't apologise or over-compensate for your age but make sure that you look smart and professional. You don't have to put your age on your CV and there is now a voluntary code in place which has been taken up by 90% of recruitment agencies to banish age limits.
Whilst it may not sound ideal be prepared to consider temporary, part-time or even voluntary work if it means you can get a foot in the door of opportunity. Take a job at a lower grade if it means you can get in that way too. Once you are in an organisation you can quickly show them what you are made of and what your strengths are.
Don't limit your choice either - whilst you may feel that large international companies will offer you the best chance it is more likely that small businesses can offer better prospects for experienced workers.
However intimidated you may feel remember all the positive factors that your time of life has going for you. Your experience both at work and at home means that you are less likely to panic in tricky situations and that you will know instinctively what to do. Loyalty, often deemed an old fashioned value, is much in demand by employers today and once you have found the right job you are much less likely to be scanning the job ads for something better paid. Reliability is also in your favour - research shows that the 46-64 age group take fewer days off sick than their younger counterparts.
Succeeding at the interview
If you have got an interview then you have a good chance of getting the job so it's worth spending time preparing for this important meeting.
Don't be worried if the interviewer appears to look much younger than you and don't refer to your age. Remember the interviewer is on your side and is there to find out why you want the job, what particular skills you have for it and assess how you would fit into the company. Remember that the interviewer, in addition to learning about your experience to date, will also want to hear about your future aspirations. This will indicate that you want to succeed further, develop new skills and that you have the necessary drive and determination to succeed. Find out as much as you can about the company before the interview so that you can show your interest by asking one or two questions.