Q. I'm 58 years old and struggling to get a job. What am I doing wrong?
I hesitated before picking your question – it's a tough one! There's no point pretending it's going to be easy; skilled people of all ages are finding it hard to get a job in the recession. It's easy to say, but thinking positively is a start. Don't focus on your age as the factor holding you back; instead, concentrate on what's going to push you forward.
You've had over thirty years' professional experience. ‘Experienced' or ‘senior' doesn't need to be a bad thing, so long as it refers to your worth or level rather than your age. More than ever, it's about picking the right jobs (i.e. ones you can get) and then presenting benefits to the employer (not features of your employment history).
CV dos and don'ts for mature jobseekers
- Do prepare a functional CV organised by your skills, rather than a chronological CV organised by date;
- Don't list the years you attended school;
- Do focus on recent achievements;
- Don't give detail on roles further than 10 years ago;
- Above all, make your age invisible on your CV – never put your date of birth on your CV.
Interview tips for mature jobseekers
- Emphasise that your experience means you will hit the ground running;
- When asked to “describe a time when…”, make sure that time is recent, rather than an example from years ago;
- Make it clear you're happy to accept authority from all ages – don't let young managers feel intimidated by your age;
- Don't mention your grandchildren or anything else that might denote your age – why give your interviewer ammunition to unconsciously discriminate?
Since you've been looking for 7 months, it might be time for some lateral thinking. Consider switching to the public sector (see my previous newsletter) or working for larger companies where they have an age quota to fill. Think about starting your own business, freelance working, or doing interim work. Employers looking to take on interims value: experience (no learning curve); reliability; calmness under pressure; and willingness to be flexible with working hours.
As you say in your email, 7 years until retirement is too long a time to waste. Good luck, and don't take up golf just yet. There's lots of good advice on the Workthing+ Blog for mature jobseekers, and even more expert guidance in the Workthing+ Community.
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