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  • Lyndal Miller

Looking for a job as you near your 50’s or beyond?

Updated: Apr 11, 2018

The chances are that you have probably been working for decades, and the thought of getting a new position can present some very real challenges, let alone leave you feeling terrified! It’s fair to say that today, every decade seems to be ‘younger’ than the same decade the generation before – we have more energy, we are more aware of our health, not to mention, we are often still very active. And yet when it comes to our careers, we often feel we are simply ‘too old’ or we perceive that we will be ‘discriminated against” due to our age.

As a generation we have many strengths - we tend to be loyal with an even-temperament, and reliable. We have a strong work ethic and often bring intangibles to the workplace from experience to an extensive network of connections.

I have identified 6 key areas that will assist in your job search:

1. Take advantage of your network The chances are that you have a considerably larger pool of people in your network than you did say 20 years ago – use it! Make it known to them that you are looking for a new job. Most companies relish referrals (and some even pay their existing employees for them!) and it’s often easier to get in front of a prospective employer if you have been referred.

2. Look as healthy and well-groomed as possible. If you want to be taken seriously, then it’s important that you exude vitality and energy. People will judge you by how you look, regardless of how politically incorrect this may be. When you are physically fit it sends a message that you are ‘up for the job’. Put some thought into this and make an effort to stay and look healthy. Have a good look in the mirror and truly assess how you look – incorporating age-appropriate clothing and being well groomed is also part of looking vibrant.

3. Focus on your achievements. Because you have many years’ experience, there is a tendency to list everything you have done. This simply confuses the prospective employer and can actually dilute the real value you can bring to an organisation. Try and hone in on a few situations that have a high level of relevance to the role you are seeking. Think proactively, and focus on how you can contribute moving forward, because of your experience.

4. Keep your skills up to date Many employers identify the ‘ideal’ employee as being someone with experience and yet who is skilled and up to date with the latest of technology. You have the experience so you are half way there. Don’t let a lack of technical skills be your bug bear. Keep up to date – read industry publications, and again network so you can keep abreast of current technical requirements in your industry. Many valuable books are also available to download on Kindle.

5. Know your worth and negotiate your salary accordingly. Salary can be a sticky point for many job seekers – particularly if you hold a senior position, or have been out of the job market for some time. The chances are the more experience you have, the more likely you are to command a higher salary, which requires some shrewd negotiating.

Focus on the value that you can bring to the company. Think of leverage you have to support your salary such as extensive industry contacts, proven problem solving and negotiation skills, or any other experiences or skills that will benefit the prospective employer’s business. Think of alternative compensation packages as opposed to salary alone. This could include bonus incentives, medical benefits, additional holiday pay, flexible hours and the list goes on.

6. Make sure your CV is an accurate and appealing representation of you. Having considerable experience, the key here is to rein in your CV so that it fits onto no more than two pages. Most recruiters and hiring managers will scan it in less than 15 seconds. Use a clear font and keep it simple and easy to read.

Stick to the most recent 10 to 15 years of experience. Avoid giving dates when it comes to decades old experience , and only include jobs if they’re relevant to the work you’re currently seeking. There’s no need for school or tertiary graduation dates and marks. Match the experience and skills you cite in your CV with the exact skills employers say they’re seeking in their job posting.

Proofread your CV and then proof read it again. Email it to someone else to read and check that it hasn’t lost any of the formatting. Be aware of spellcheck – sometimes this can go wrong – horribly wrong!

Finally, put yourself out there. The chances of an employer coming knocking on your door is about the same odds as winning Lotto – without buying a ticket! Don’t rule out working with a Career Coach if you need assistance. It’s important to believe in yourself and remember, you have a lot to offer and the right company will be lucky to have you!

Good luck!

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