Senior man in suit flanked by younger colleague

Tips on Getting a Job in your 50s and 60s

If the talk in the media is to be believed it would feel as though nobody over 50 can ever possibly get a job! Rest assured, that is simply not true.

If you find yourself looking for a job once you are over the magical age of fifty, you may think it is difficult, but here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you.

Limit your “Break”

It is natural to want to take a small break after you have quit a job, been made redundant or lost a job for some other reason.

There are a thousand reasons for taking a break. All those household chores have mounted up and you want to finish your personal “to do” list so you can concentrate on your new job when you get it.

These are all great reasons for taking an extended break, but you will be surprised how fast you will be seen as ‘out of touch’ by potential employers. Anything over four or five weeks of a “much-earned break” could put you on the back foot in the job market.

It gets harder to find a job the longer you have been out of one, even though it may be for excellent reasons. Keep the break short.

Happy senior couple browsing internet on laptop in living room

Look for Openings in the Internet

Only a very small proportion of jobs are advertised through the newspapers these days and most job opportunities are found on the internet. However, going to a job advertisements website is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of locating jobs on the Internet.

Go also to the forums and industry-specific websites for your area of specialisation. Then join the various internet groups for your job area and participate, so you become known to the web community in your job role and industry. In a small number of cases, this may actually lead to jobs coming your way rather than you always having to chase the job.

Beyond internet networking, the old wisdom that many jobs are filled through an employer’s personal network still holds good. Figure out who you know- make that list and then let it be known that you are actively looking for a job.

Get a Digital Presence

Gone are the days that employers would rely on your prepared CV and an interview to get the information they need about you. These days, if your initial CV sparks a little interest, the recruiter will be on the internet looking for your profile on Linkedin or another forum. If you have no digital profile or if you only have a one-line profile … next candidate, please!

Don’t Censor Yourself

I know people who don’t even try to find a job because of the negative atmosphere that is generated by the media about the difficulty of the over 50s landing a job. Don’t believe it!

First, if you know you meet the job criteria, then it’s against the law to discriminate on the basis of your age. All you have to do is get to the interview and you know you will excel if you have the skill, maturity, experience and work ethic. The employer wants the best for his team and age very seldom comes into the equation unless it physically prevents you from doing the necessary tasks.

Get the Application Right

So you’ve found that job opportunity – don’t mess it up by applying in the wrong way or sending the wrong message in your first communication. If the advertisement tells you to call in person because it is a telesales job, then sending an email is just not going to cut it.

Increasingly, employers are asking for on-line applications. You need to follow this instruction. This is because sometimes the on-line application is not being vetted by a human being on the other end, but by an app. So, if your application was not made online, then it did not even get through the first hurdle.

Stressed senior man compares documents


If you get the opportunity for an interview, sometimes there is a bit of juggling to do for setting a convenient timing for the interview. These are actual comments we have had. Make up your own mind as to whether it would make the employer eager to meet you:

  1. “Sorry I can’t come on Tuesday because that’s my bowls day”
  2. “I’m waiting for a reply from another interview, you could give me a call in a week to see if I want your job”
  3. “Can you send me an email with your best offer and I’ll see if it’s worth coming for an interview”

Be prepared for web-based interviews. Not all first interviews are face-to-face any more. Get used to working with web-based meetings solutions like Skype or GoToMeeting. You don’t want the employer having to tell you how to use them during the interview. You may get the lesson, but you won’t get the job.

The Package

Somethings have not changed even in this internet age. If the only thing you ask about at an interview is the hours and the pay, you are not demonstrating a great desire to be a constructive and vital part of the team you are applying to join – instead, you are signalling loud and clear that you are a clock watcher with little interest in the job itself. Of course, you need to know what the package is, but find out about the job first and concentrate on the value proposition you are bringing to the table today, and the package will get negotiated accordingly.

In your fifties and beyond, what you bring to the table in addition to technical skill, are attributes that only come with life experience. You bring to the table your maturity in dealing with clients and colleagues, patience, years of thinking on your feet to resolve problems and the inner strength and perseverance to just keep going when things are not working out as you may have expected them to. You have a lot more to offer a company than you may think.

By following the tips in this article, we can’t guarantee you’ll get a job, but the challenge should be easier. Good Luck in your search.

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