Feeling over-qualified and outdated? Getting back into the jobs market post-50 can be challenging after redundancy
Some see redundancy as an opportunity for career reflection and possible change of direction. But often the reality is that getting back in the jobs market post-50 can be a challenge.
Here are some of our tips on how to improve your chances of success:
Overhaul your CV
Don’t just fire off your existing CV. If you haven’t had to apply for a job in the last few years, be aware that CV-writing standards have changed.
One shift has been the emphasis on relevance. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to fully grasp the skills, qualities and achievements that are relevant to a new employer. Rather than focusing your CV on the past, with the usual chronological list of what you did and where, orient it towards your future; highlight the skills and knowledge you would bring to the new role.
As CV formats are fairly flexible, you can tailor your CV to the job or company by removing old or irrelevant details. If you’re worried that your breadth of experience is out of step with the role you’re applying for, and you might seem over-qualified, you can dilute or minimise selected details. Do this with caution though; don’t “dumb down” for roles that would leave you feeling unchallenged, or in a way that leaves large gaps on your CV.
You might also want to age-proof your CV. Although it doesn’t take a lot of guess work to arrive at an applicant’s approximate age, there’s no reason to make it a focal point. Don’t include your date of birth and be selective about how far back you go. CVs should generally only be two pages long, which might mean you need to trim your professional experience and education sections. Recruiters are likely to be most interested in the last ten years or so – you can put a summary of much earlier experience into an “earlier career highlights” section. You could also take the dates off your education.
Make skills prominent
You’ll need to check that your skills and knowledge are up to date. Don’t feel you have to list all your abilities on your CV, especially if, for example, a particular technology is now outdated. If you’re submitting your CV to a job board, remember that it will be assessed for skill keywords. Make sure that your application contains the same skills that a recruiter will be looking for. Mention any recent courses or training you’ve done to understand new technology or methodologies.
Use your network
Building and maintaining a network isn’t a quick fix, but something that will pay off long term. Make sure you have a good mix of industry insiders, recruiters, ex-colleagues and people you know working for any competitors on your list of people to tell that you’re looking for work. Network online too: platforms like LinkedIn offer ways to build your visibility.
Start setting up meetings with hiring managers and ask for referrals to people in the companies that interest you. Asking for advice on how best to get in to a new industry or company is a great way to research and meet people before you even send your CV.
Weigh up all the opportunities
You might need to ease yourself back into employment through other types of work. If you can do it, a period of self-employment or voluntary work is a good way to demonstrate your skills. Portfolio careers, where you can combine different roles in a variety of ways, are increasingly popular, giving you flexibility and variety.
Play to your strengths at interviews
If you’re applying for jobs under your current experience level, you’ll need to show why you’re applying and address any concerns that you’d leave as soon as something better turned up. But don’t down play any attributes which might be helpful, such as having a deeper experience, greater skills or knowledge, or the ability to mentor and train younger colleagues. As with any occasion when you’ve lost a job, be careful that there’s no hint of bitterness or negativity in your attitude. Appear interested, energetic and enthusiastic for the role, and give the impression that you’re excited about the future and the chance to make contributions to the organisation.