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The media often paints a gloomy picture of the prospects for people looking for a new job in their 50s.
But if that’s you, or someone you know, remember that being in your 50s and out of work is not the end of the world. Rather than being “Finished At Fifty”, this is just a new beginning in your life and career.
People can, and do, get new jobs after 50. Here are ten tips to help.
1. Stop thinking and talking about your age
The more you think and talk about your age, gender or race the more interviewers and contacts will notice it.
Don’t mention your age. You don’t have to put it on your resume / CV these days, or refer to it in interviews.
Instead, focus on the value that comes from your experience of working through several downturns (which people in their 30s just do not have), of having a stronger professional network than a 28 year old, of having more technical knowledge.
Do this in a way that is bespoke to particular roles and employers, and your age starts being an advantage, not a hindrance.
2. Develop the traits of younger people
It’s not just age that attracts some managers to younger employees, but their qualities and traits.
Young people tend to be more flexible, open-minded, good with technology, and swift to adapt to new ways. They show enthusiasm and passion about what they do.
So get more tech-savvy. The internet, LinkedIn.com, Twitter, blogs and online application are all part of the young job seeker’s tool kit. If you don’t know how to use them fully find someone to teach you. You’ll instantly be one step ahead of most people in your age bracket.
A young person’s mindset combined with a 50 year old’s wisdom and experience is a winning combination.
3. Think like an entrepreneur
Where are the growth markets and growth locations?
Where are the shortages of talent and experience?
What needs are there in the marketplace that are not being met?
What have you got to bring to those markets and needs?
Who can you speak with to begin learning more about these segments and seeing how best to connect with employers and clients in those markets?
Instead of looking for vacancies, look for businesses, organizations, sectors that have problems that you can fix. Then find ways to access people in those areas via your contacts.
4. Make fewer applications and have more conversations
Don’t spend all your time applying for jobs online. Making hundreds of scattershot applications is not the way to find work.
Get out and meet people: renew old contacts or network with new people.
Money may be tight and your confidence may have taken a dip, but getting out and meeting people face to face can open doors you thought might be closed, and increases your confidence at the same time.
5. Consider a new career or setting up your own business
You don’t have to stick to the same old career path. If money wasn’t an issue, if you knew you couldn’t fail, what job or career would you choose?
What talent have you got that others value? What’s the idea you’ve had but never quite tested out? How can you use this to start a new career or your own business?
Take the first step. Have a conversation, meet some people – you’ll find your idea takes you in a different direction. But unless you make a start nothing will change.
6. Do something of value with your spare time
If you’re out of work, you don’t need to spend 40 hours a week job searching or waiting for replies. Do some volunteering, become a non-exec director, learn something you’ve always wanted to learn.
You’ll increase your self-worth, meet new contacts and develop new skills – all of which create potential opportunities.
7. Find a peer group
I graduated in the early 1990s recession and it was tough going.
But one of the keys to keeping going was meeting regularly with friends in the same position as me. We exchanged ideas, successes (and failures) and cheered each other on.
That’s exactly what you need now. A group of people on the same journey as you, going through the same ups and downs.
And unlike the 1990s we’ve now the technology to do this for free at home.
8. Remember: You only want ONE job
If you’re running a recruitment firm then you need to worry about the market and economy.
But you only want ONE job. One job will be out there. Dig in, be flexible and keep on going. Don’t lose sight of this.
9. Lose the pride
You may need to do something you don’t want, such as taking up part-time work below your level of ability.
But if it brings in the cash and gets you doing something productive then be open-minded to it. You never know where it could lead or who you could meet. So lose the pride and make the best of what you can get.
10. Have faith
“Redundancy will be the best thing that ever happened to you. It just takes 24 months for you to realize this.”
This is what I tell clients who have just lost jobs. And it almost always turns out to be true.
Losing your job forces you to make decisions you’ve been resisting deep down. Decisions about the type of work you do, the kind of lifestyle you live, your relationships and your health.
In time you will make a transition to a new job, business and lifestyle. And in years to come you’ll look back and realize that some good did come from being out of work. You’ll almost always come out of it as a better person.
So rather than being "finished at fifty" this could be the start of an exciting new chapter of your career and life. Taking some of the steps above would be a good place to begin that chapter...