“Will my age stop me from getting a new job?”

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when I’m working with career coaching clients particularly when they are aged 45 and over. This is a pressing concern for many and I’m going to try to provide some advice and tips to reassure you that age is NOT an issue!

1. Think positively about yourself
Your age is something you can’t do anything about. I encourage you to accept it and make the best of all you can offer a future employer. This applies to job searchers of any age. I work with young graduates in their 20’s who are worried that their youthful age will prevent them from securing a particular role. Don’t make assumptions about what you think an employer might be looking for. Instead, aim to identify the skills and personal attributes that you have to offer which will differentiate you from other applicants and which can be backed up with evidence like measurable achievement statements.

For those of you in the 45+ age group, Senior Human Resources Manager Lorna Hunt has some reassuring words when she says that you bring “a wealth of experience, resilience and maturity”. It’s rare for a younger applicant in their 20’s or 30’s to have had the opportunity to be as exposed to leading and being part of change, creating new processes and innovative problem solving in the way that an older employee will have been. These are vital skills for most organisations and ones you need to highlight in your CV and LinkedIn profile.

2. Present yourself positively
Make sure in the way that you present yourself in your CV, LinkedIn profile and cover emails that you come across as up to date and in touch with current job search practices. Check out the font style of your CV – Arial looks more up to date nowadays than Times New Roman. Are you using up to date key words, or buzz words? You can find these by reading a number of adverts for a similar role and identifying the common requirements coming out for things like “partnering” or “stakeholder management”. For industry specific buzz words keep up to date by joining and participating in relevant LinkedIn Groups. You’ll feel more confident as a result.

At interview, whatever your age, you need to demonstrate an energy, a drive for the role you are applying for. Show that in your body language – don’t walk into the meeting room, care-worn and tired. Instead, smile, gain eye-contact, talk animatedly about your experience and skills to date and your enthusiasm for this new opportunity. If you’re feeling low on energy at present then take some time out from your job search – go for a walk, do some form of exercise, keep in shape mentally and physically.

3. Employers want to meet short term needs
Let’s remember that the world of work has changed radically. Nowadays on average in the UK, people spend three to five years in one company, where they might have several role changes and then move on to another organisation. The pace of movement is much quicker than in the past. It is no longer a “company for life” situation. Employers are therefore not looking to recruit you for ten or twenty years. Instead they want to retain flexibility and focus much more on short term goals – do you have the skills and experience they need for projects in the coming two or three years? They will re-assess again at that stage.

Remember to highlight personal attributes in your CV and application that match this faster pace of change. Take care when asked at interview how you would describe yourself. Employers are less likely to be looking for an employee who describes themselves as “loyal and seeking security and stability”. Instead they will be interested in those who are “resilient – able to bounce back after setbacks”, or who are innovative or focused on personal development and learning. You’ll need some examples to back up these traits as well. Maybe this is the time to invest in a course or attend a conference to ensure that you are in touch with latest trends, update your skills and develop your network.

4. Be flexible and open to a fixed-term contract including interim roles
The increased use of fixed-term contracts by organisations is evidence of this short-term focus. When you were job searching in the past you might only have applied for permanent roles now you need to be open to the many more short term options available. Let a recruitment agent know that you are open to a fixed term or interim role. Include this information in your LinkedIn Summary section. Often a short-term contract or interim role will lead to a permanent position at the end and you will be in the best place to secure that job. You will have had the opportunity to “check out” the organisation you are working for, to establish if there is a two-way cultural and skills fit.

5. Be pro-active and professional in your job search
If you aren’t managing to secure a new job rather than feeling like a victim and blaming the situation on your age, review how you are approaching the market. How pro-active are you being? Have you met with several recruitment agents face to face to convince them of your differentiators and then followed up a bi-weekly basis with a positive, energetic call to them? Have you created a long list of all those network contacts including former colleagues, managers, suppliers and customers whom you need to meet face to face and ask for advice and information to assist your job search? Have you done lots of research about your organisation of choice and included some of this in your cover email or at interview to demonstrate your keenness and motivation?
Job search at any age can take time. Often it can take months rather than weeks to get a job offer so please don’t assume that age is the issue. Try to keep pro-active, keep resilient and it will work out.

If you need any further support or advice then please let me know on sally@swcareercoaching.com Please share it with your connections. Thank you.