How to get a job when you're over 50
Embarking on a job hunt late in life can be daunting. You have a huge amount of experience, but perhaps it’s been years (or even decades!) since you actually sat down for an interview. Maybe you haven’t updated your CV since 1995, and maybe every job you’ve ever had has come as a result of professional networks and friend’s referrals.
Now, you find yourself older, wiser, but unemployed. What can you do to make sure you’re seen as a desirable candidate? How can you make yourself stand out in a sea of 30-year-olds?
It’s doable, absolutely, but there are a few things you absolutely must keep in mind.
1. Perfect your professional online profiles
If you’ve got your professional information online - on job boards or professional networking websites - the first thing you should do is ensure these are updated. More than putting in your most recent places of work, sell yourself! Share your targets hit, objectives achieved, clients won, and other accolades that will resonate with a new employer. Rather than simply telling people what you have done, show them.
If you don’t have your professional information online, do it now! Today, it’s an absolute must to have an online profile where you can showcase your experience, work and thought leadership. It’s one thing for you to find jobs to apply for, but you’ve also got to be findable for employers!
2. Take out references to age in your CV
This can be a tricky one in Singapore, where it’s often considered standard practice to include a DOB and a photo - but it’s not something you have to do. If you are having trouble getting replies to your job applications, try removing your DOB and any references to the years you went to university, for example, and see what happens. It could be a surprising eye-opener, and a way to get your foot in the door without people’s unconscious bias around age getting in the way.
3. Understand the youthful mindset
Experience should trump age, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. If the person hiring you is 20 years younger than you, you’re going to have to see things a little differently. Put it this way: a 30-something hiring manager recruiting a 50-something professional might subconsciously put you in the same box as their parents. To get around this, do your best to understand what it is that younger management are looking for. They want to ensure you can fit in with their culture, which could be an issue if the majority of staff are in their 20s and 30s. But if you can look and play the part, and can prove you are on top of things they care about, it shouldn’t take much for them to be able to see past the age factor.
4. Hone your interview skills
If this is your first time searching for a job in a while, you’re going to need some interview practice. Practising with a friend is one way to do it, but a better way could be actually using real job interviews as a test. Try and choose one or two roles you’re not super fussed about as a practice run, and an indication of what job interviews are like today.
Another thing you can do is record yourself speaking and answering questions - either during a practice run with friends or during a real interview. Play it back and see how you respond to difficult questions. What’s your tone like? Do you sound excited, nervous or arrogant? Hearing yourself after the fact can be a great way to pick up on areas that need work.
5. Don’t put yourself in a box: expand your professional horizons
So, you’re struggling to find a new job in your dream field - why not look elsewhere? With the amount of experience you have, you will have a wealth of skills that can transfer to similar roles or completely different industries. Don’t turn your nose up at part-time or contract work in the meantime either - all these options are fantastic for learning new skills and ensuring you stay relevant in your field. Just because your career has been following one path for the last decade, doesn’t mean the path can’t twist and turn a bit along the way.