Valuable lessons for job hunters over 50

Posted in: Finance Last updated: 29 Jun 2012

If you’re over 50 and on the job hunt, it’s easy to assume that you might be at a disadvantage to younger workers. However, you needn’t worry, research shows that those up to the age of 70 are just as productive as young colleagues, as successful in training and make up for any loss of speed with better judgement, [1] so you’ve got every reason to be confident. Read our tips on how to master your CV, what to leave off and how you can promote yourself in today’s job market.

Combat age discrimination

There’s no need to put your date of birth on any application forms or CVs – or any dates for that matter! If you’re worried about school years or graduation dates, avoid flagging these up. “When I got made redundant, I went into panic mode because I hadn’t written a CV for over ten years. The HR team for the company I worked for actually helped us with our job search. The main thing they told us was to leave your date of birth off and only list the last ten years of your employment history.” – Elizabeth Kendall, over 50s worker.

Be honest

If you’ve been out of work for a while, or have gaps in your work history, make sure you highlight this on your CV – it will only come back and bite you otherwise. However, where you have been unemployed for a long period of time, make sure you explain why and turn this into a positive by providing information about how you occupied yourself – maybe you’ve volunteered somewhere or have been part of a committee?

Provide evidence

Backing up your skills with numbers and evidence will give you more credibility. Using figures or facts to show how you’ve improved something is a lot more believable than just simply stating what you did. The majority of recruiters will view CVs online these days so you could even include website links to work you’ve done. If you really want to strengthen your CV, request a testimonial from a previous manager that knows you well – this is a great way of reassuring the recruiter that you’re a trustworthy candidate.

Personalise your CV

A creative, well designed CV can really capture the eye of a recruiter who has to wade through hundreds of CVs every day. Thinking outside the box by adding images, colours and breaking down the information with tables can help to portray your personality and make your CV stand out.

Sharpen up your computer skills

This is a must, in order to compete against the younger generation you’ll need to make sure your computer skills are up to scratch. “The majority of CVs come through the web these days, so it’s really important that job seekers promote themselves online in order to compete in today’s job market” – Emma Smith, HR Executive at Engage Mutual.

Use your contacts

You’ve probably built up lots of connections over the years, so make sure you get in touch with old contacts. They’ll help to put a good word out there for you and their referrals are likely to carry more weight. Don’t neglect other ways of widening your network though, get in touch with as many recruitment agencies as possible.

Apply directly

Where possible, apply to the organisation directly and follow this up with a phone call to show your enthusiasm. ‘We always prioritise the CVs that have been sent directly before looking at the ones that have come through other channels’ – Emma Smith, HR Executive at Engage Mutual.

Promote yourself on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is playing an important role in the job hunting process, with over 13 million registered members in the UK [2]. For those of you that are not familiar with LinkedIn, it’s basically a networking tool where working professionals can promote themselves online, link up with people in their industry and let recruiters know they’re looking for a job. It’s a great way of showcasing your skills without having to actively apply for positions.

Are you clueless about LinkedIn? Getting to grips with broadcasting your work profile on the internet can be difficult. Here are a few tips on how to get started.

  1. Set up a profile – Make sure you add a picture; recruiters always like to put a face to a name.
  2. Edit your qualifications – Highlight your experience by listing your key qualifications.
  3. Add a summary – This is your chance to set yourself apart from the rest. Write an in-depth paragraph about where you stand in your career, your strengths and what you want to achieve. Think about it from the perspective of a recruiter looking at your profile – how can you add value to an organisation? What unique insights can you bring to the business? Take your time on this – the more rounds of editing you have to go through, the more accurate it will be.
  4. Add specialities – List your areas of expertise and specific skills you’re proud of.
  5. Make connections – Make as many connections as you can with the people you already know. It’s always a good idea to use your email contacts to start off with.
  6. Add websites – Add links to any websites that help to demonstrate your skills such as web pages on your current employer’s website, blogs and social media accounts.
  7. Get recommendations – The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can get others to promote you. Ask your former bosses to add recommendations and make sure you return the favour and recommend others as well.
  8. Join in the groups – Join groups you’re interested in to start networking with members in your industry. Make sure you engage in discussions and demonstrate your expertise – you might find some valuable contacts you can connect with.
  9. Follow companies you’d like to work for – Keep on top of what’s happening in your industry by following all the companies you’re interested in working for. Some companies list their job openings on Linkedin too so you can apply directly from there or drop a message to the HR person responsible for the advertisement.
  10. Look at people in similar roles – LinkedIn allows you to search for the people working in roles you’re interested in, so rather than just relying on hard-to-decipher job descriptions, you can paint a clear picture of what the job role will actually entail on a day-to-day basis.

Be resilient

If you don’t hear anything back from your applications, don’t give up – remember that you’re not alone, job seekers of all ages are in this scenario and you might find that a better opportunity comes along in the end anyway.

Don’t forget that with age comes experience – at the end of the day, age is only a number, it’s what you can do that matters the most.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.

1 Gov.uk (February, 2013), “Employing older workers” [online]. Available from www.gov.uk
2 LinkedIn, “About LinkedIn” [online]. Available from www.press.linkedin.com/about