It’s widely known that the experience of job seeking can be very different for those in the later stage of their career. John* is a friend of ImproveMe who is aged in his fifties and is currently job hunting. We asked him to share his key observations with us.
For those finding themselves over 50 and looking for opportunities there are several key factors to consider as careers paths in this stage of life will be different.
If you have been employed for single organisation for a long time – say over 25 years – you need to understand that these days potential employers look at tenure and “company” loyalty differently to what they did decades ago. This means some self development may be required to differentiate in the marketplace – to move away from the “one trick pony” perception that comes with being in one organisation for so long. You may find online courses from local and International learning institutions are available to enhance your skill set already achieved as an example.
If you are looking outside your initial industry of expertise, then understand how to position your experiences and achievements you have gained, so as to be seen as a value add for solutions to issues other organisations face. This may open up consulting avenues and the lifestyle changes that go with it. In this situation, a good 12 month budget needs to be considered as you may be moving from a mindset of guaranteed monthly wage to being paid for specific jobs.
If you are undertaking your job search utilising existing networks, you may need to consider expanding to recruiters – but make sure you find those that have experience in the industry you are considering. A lot of recruiters employ careers advisers that do not have the understanding to look beyond the CV and are reluctant to offer a candidate over 50 to their clients as it “falls outside the scope” of their assignment.
There are opportunities if you put yourself out there but it certainly means you will need to be flexible with your expectations as organisations and industries place different value on experience and what financial worth to apply to this segment of the employment market.
* Name has been changed to protect our contributor’s anonymity in his job search. Image used is not of our contributor. Our contributor has extensive local and international experience within prestigious global organisations such as Ford and Caterpillar. If you would like to be put in touch with him, please contact ImproveMe.
Anastasia, you graduated from university during the last recession. What challenges did this create for you in trying to secure a full-time role and what advice do you have to anyone seeking employment in today’s similarly tough economic environment?
Becoming a journalist was my dream and I had it all mapped out. Or so I thought.
What I hadn’t planned for was Australia going into recession in the early 1990s, while I was at university. It took almost a year to land a cadetship after graduation. It was difficult and challenging, but I have never taken employment for granted since.
My advice to graduates facing a similar situation is to do whatever you can to improve your skills, gain experience and rise above the competition.
I practised my craft as much as I could. I wrote for local newspapers and penned letters to the editor. It was unpaid work, but it was industry experience and it allowed me to build up a portfolio of published work. I also volunteered at a community centre where I learnt how to deal with members of the public and provide them with accurate, timely information. Skills every journalist needs.
When it became clear there weren’t enough jobs in my chosen city, I cast my net wider. I got my first job on a regional newspaper after driving more than two hours on a Sunday to meet the editor.
A degree will only get you so far. Go (or drive) the extra mile if you really want to stand out from the crowd.
Brent, what’s your advice to people who have recently found themselves out of work due to COVID-19?
In the immediate time, my advice is not to panic. Try to take a considered viewpoint about the circumstances that we all find ourselves in. One of the biggest issues is that every impacted person is going to take a real hit to their confidence. I believe it’s important to give people an ability to help rebuild their confidence in the first instance, before they get back into the workforce.
How can you do this? Start by understanding what your strengths are as a person, take the time to invest in learning more about what makes you as good as you can become. How can you improve on those strengths even further? Then start to slowly map out what your pathway back into the workforce might look like.
Speak to everyone you know to open up networking opportunities. Everyone’s willing to talk to those who reach out when they’re looking for different roles, different advice, different guidance. So talk to as many people as you can.
Also, keep involved in educating yourself, keep upskilling and keep reskilling, and keep your eye on different sorts of opportunities as and when they present themselves. Keep an open mind about where an opportunity might come from, because while we are going through tough times, there are some industries out there that are growing and thriving that are continually looking for people as well.