Many of us romanticise the idea of retirement – a long-awaited break from all the early mornings and long commutes, and a stage in our lives when we’ll be able to do all the things we didn’t have time for before.
Unfortunately, or not, depending on how you feel, for many of those approaching retirement age this may remain a dream. Today, nearly half (48%) expect to work past the Default Retirement Age of 651, with around one in eight (13%) even suggesting they don’t expect to ever retire fully.
Although a third (34%) carry on working because they enjoy the mental stimulation, and a quarter for the social interaction their work brings, our latest Real Retirement research reveals that financial necessity is by far and away the most common reason why people remain in employment. Two in five (43%) say they don’t have enough saved up in their pension to retire when they wanted to, and a third (32%) indicate they simply can’t afford to stop working due to the cost of living.
But working into our twilight years – whether it be in the same field or new career – isn’t always the easiest of tasks. In fact, merely 14% feel as though their workplace culture is positive towards older workers, while more than a quarter (27%) think their employer values youth and vitality over their experience and knowledge.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Vitality is certainly a great trait to have, but as Aimee Batemen – CEO of Careercake, the online career solutions platform – indicates, “with age comes experience,” so there are also plenty of areas where older employees outshine their younger counterparts.
We caught up with Aimee and Keith Simpson, Managing Director at SkilledPeople.com - a recruitment agency for workers with over 20 years of experience – and asked them for advice on how to master the art of getting a job, and how to sell your skills, experiences and age as an asset.
Showcasing your experience
According to Keith, it’s far better to seek employment in an area relevant to your experience if you’re planning on having a second career. “Don’t assume that an employer can make the mental leap to apply your experience to a new job role,” he says “people get typecast in the jobs market by the time they are 30. Don’t think you can easily reinvent yourself at any stage in your career without good credentials.”
Over the past 10 years, the job market has become increasingly competitive in big cities, with more people applying for the same job than ever before. Consumer goods firms report receiving 186.3 applications for every job opening2. Nevertheless, Keith tells us that job seekers are still in a better position now than a year ago due to the growth in UK employment. But “it’s probably around five to 10 times more difficult for a person over 60 to get an executive role that’s being advertised on the open market - due to ‘under the table’ age discrimination by employers and recruiters.”
Although age discrimination has been illegal since the 2010 Equality Act, older job seekers tend to feel that their age makes getting a job more difficult. A research conducted by SkilledPeople.com showed that 80% of candidates aged over 50 believed they are the victims of age discrimination. Aimee highlights that this is often “all based on naivety. Some employers presume that maybe they aren’t that well conversed in the latest technologies or perhaps they are looking forward to retirement so they are only in it for the short term.”
“Discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed, but I would also query that if an employer discriminates, is that really the culture you want to join? A team where your skills and value are assessed based on when you were born?”
What advice would you give to a 60+ year old who is going to a job interview?
Keith suggests that you “think like a 30 year old. The big mistake that older people make in interview is to talk too much about the past and what they’ve done. Concentrate on the future and what you can bring to an employer.”
Aimee emphasises that “at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are 18, 24 or 62, when job hunting we’re all united by one thing: to get a job you need to understand the employer. It doesn’t matter if you have all the tech skills… if you don’t know how to sell to them, or how to make them seen, heard and valued, you’ve bigger problems.”
It can be hard to build self-esteem, is there any trick to it?
Keith tells us that you should “think positive in the mindset of a commercial salesperson. Don’t be knocked-back by rejection. Remember that ‘No’ is only a word. It’s not personal. In the words of Chumbawamba: “I get knocked down. But I get up again. You’re never going to keep me down.”
Is it ever too late to start a new career?
It’s never too late to start a new career if you have the commitment and determination. Age doesn’t change a person’s mental approach to work. Someone who was adventurous at 30 is just as likely to be willing to take risks at 60.
However, someone seeking quality employment after 60 is advised to focus on their areas of expertise and experience. Sadly it’s more often a case of, for example, ‘once a bookkeeper always a bookkeeper’. Don’t assume that an employer can make the mental leap to apply your experience to a new job role.
It’s different if a person wants to do voluntary work, charities are more open-minded.
What final piece of advice would you give to all the 60+ job seekers?
Don’t apply for everything and anything. The internet age makes it too easy for candidates to send off CVs in all directions. It’s far better to focus on jobs that match your experience closely and tailor an appropriate CV and covering letter to help you get past the initial screening process.
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