The most difficult part of any task is getting started. Sometimes it can feel like you’re at the bottom of a mountain and it’s difficult to know how to start climbing.
Finding your next professional challenge is no different. Especially if you’ve not been in the job market for a while, or you’re thinking about making a career change.
We speak to many people who struggle with those first steps. But, focusing on the right things, and approaching those tasks in a positive way, can make an big difference to your progress and outlook.
So, with this in mind, we’ve come up with some useful advice on how to help you land a new job in your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
1. Decide what you want from your new job role
Before you decide to take the leap and apply for a new job, try to think long and hard about what it is you hope to gain from a new opportunity. It may sound obvious, but sometimes writing down what you want on a piece of paper can be a helpful way of clarifying your thinking.
For example, are you looking for a job with shorter hours, more flexibility, or greater job satisfaction? These kinds of decisions will help you choose what type of role to go for. You might find some helpful tips on how to get your hopes for the future down in our article; How to create an inspiring vision board.
If you’re looking for a part-time job but unsure what sort of work you’d like to do, why not read our article on top part-time roles? Alternatively, if you’re interested in something completely different to what you do now and you don’t know where to start, you could browse our career change section to get some ideas.
2. Think about who you know
When you’re thinking about a new job, it’s worth making use of your connections.
Making a mental list of all the people you know will allow you to think about what they do with their time. Have you ever looked at a friend’s career and fancied giving their job a go yourself? If so, now might be the time to give them a call and ask for advice on how to get started.
Another reason to make the most of your connections is that you may have friends or family members who know (and can introduce you to) relevant people in the industry you’re looking to enter. This – along with their recommendation – could fast track you through the application process, getting you through to an interview quicker.
Networking is something that many people feel is outside of their comfort zone, but really, there’s nothing to be afraid of. At its most basic level, it’s simply connecting with others – and a great place to start is with people you already know.
If you’re feeling out of practice, our guide to networking could give you the confidence to get started.
3. Browse job websites
Once you’ve got a clear idea about what you want from a role, it’s worth spending a few hours browsing job websites. This is the best way to find out what sort of jobs you’re interested in and how far you’re willing to travel.
If there are lots of appealing roles but none are in your area at the moment, it’s worth signing up to receive alerts so you can apply as soon as something suitable becomes available.
If you’ve been in the same job or company for a number of years, the process of searching for something suitable online may be unfamiliar, but it’s where most companies advertise their roles these days.
Why not start by browsing the jobs available on our website to find something local to you? Or, if you’re not 100% sure what you’re interested in yet, you might want to take a look at our career advice section. Here, you’ll find career change guides and plenty of job ideas and inspiration.
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4. Revamp your CV
The first thing you should do once you’ve considered what sort of job you want to go for is dig out your old CV. Or, if you no longer have one (or never had one, for that matter), now’s the time to write one.
Being over 50, you’ll likely have years of skills and experience that you can include on your CV. But rather than trying to include everything and ending up with several pages of information that risks overwhelming prospective employers, try to be selective and provide a concise personal summary to highlight your strengths.
It’s best to think about the job you’re applying for and what skills or experience you have that could be useful in this new role. You should always highlight your skills and accomplishments as much as possible because this will let future employers know what you have the potential to do for their company.
You should also not be expected to disclose your ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. Your ability to do the job should be all that matters, so allow employers to judge you solely on your skills and experience.
5. Create a LinkedIn profile
If it’s been a while since you were last in the market for a job, you may not yet be aware of the importance of a LinkedIn profile when looking for a job. LinkedIn is the ultimate social media tool for professional people of all ages who are looking to stay connected to the latest employment opportunities and information.
It’s common practice for employers to search for your LinkedIn profile after receiving your CV or job application, to try and find out more about you. They might be looking to see whether you’re up to date with modern technology by seeing if you can comfortably use social media. Or they might also want to see how well-connected you are in your field by looking at your list of connections.
Whatever an employer’s reasons are for looking you up on LinkedIn, the first step is to make sure you’ve actually set up a professional-looking profile, and the second is to optimise it to show off your skills and experience.
For tips and advice on how to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile, you might want to check out our article on the subject.
6. Write a cover letter
We’re always surprised by how many people don’t attach a cover letter to their job applications – it’s a massive missed opportunity to stand out and demonstrate that you’re a serious applicant.
Employers receive hundreds of applications and it can be difficult for them to narrow them down. But one thing that does help employers judge the strength of an application is whether or not the applicant has taken the time to write a cover letter.
A cover letter is your opportunity to let your personality shine and explain anything that your CV doesn’t. For example, if you’ve got gaps in employment, your cover letter is the place to tell potential employers why and what you were doing instead.
No matter what your reasons are for employment gaps, always try to highlight the positives. For example, if you were forced to take a break due to injury or illness, you could talk about the resilience you developed as a result.
Your cover letter should always highlight your most recent skills, experience, and accomplishments, as well as let the employer know what you could potentially do for their company. It’s also your opportunity to tell an employer why you want to work for their company specifically.
This is your first chance to speak directly to the employer and make a lasting first impression… so make it count!
If you’d like some help crafting your cover letter, why not take a look at our article; Tips for writing a cover letter when you’re over 50? Or you might want to check out the cover letter writing services and templates that are available on our website.
7. Keep track of jobs applied for a follow-up where necessary
Once you start applying for jobs, it’s a good idea to keep track of all your applications. Note down the date you applied, the job title, and the contact details of the recruiter or company. Staying organised will not only help you to keep a clear head, but it’ll also show you the progress you’re making with your job search.
Each time you get a response or an interview, note it down. This way, it’ll be easier to keep track of your communication with each employer and make sure nothing slips through the net. If you don’t hear back from an employer after a week or so, it’s best to call or send a follow-up email to find out the status of your application.
Even if your application has been unsuccessful, always ask for feedback so you know what you could improve for next time.
8. Prepare for every interview
If you receive an invitation to an interview, you may feel a combination of excitement and nerves; especially if it’s been a while since you last attended one.
An interview can be a gateway to an exciting new opportunity, so it’s only natural that you’ll be keen to do well.
The best way to sail through the interview process is to prepare as much as possible in the lead-up. It’s best practice to learn as much about the company and role as possible while thinking about what you can offer them and where you’d like to be in five years’ time.
It’s also important to think about how you present yourself. Remember to dress smartly and always wear a smile! Showing that you’re approachable and take pride in your appearance will go a long way. If you get the job, you could be working closely with your interviewer, so relax and be yourself – let them get to know you on a human level too.
To prepare for your interview, you might want to visit the relevant section of our website, which has plenty of tips on how to make the process as smooth as possible.
9. Know your rights
Throughout your job search, it’s important to make sure that you always know your rights. Remember that no company is legally allowed to turn you away from a job role based on your age.
Acas offers advice and guidance on age discrimination and can help you decide when you to make a claim against an employer if you’ve been treated unfairly. Knowledge is power, so be sure to get as clued up as possible.
You can learn more about your rights on the Acas website.
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10. Be your own cheerleader
Your job search may last a few days or a few months, but the most important thing to remember is that the right job for you will come along. As long as you remain positive and keep reminding yourself of how much you have to offer, it’ll only be a matter of time before an employer sees that too.
Employers are drawn to people who appear confident and self-assured, so, if you want others to believe in you, it’s best to start by believing in yourself.
For tips on how to be your own cheerleader, why not take a look at our article; 10 tips to stay positive during your job search?
11. Consider the alternatives
Your job search is the perfect time to stop and think about what you actually want from life. For example, if you’ve recently been made redundant and received a redundancy payment as a result, your finances may allow you to take some time for yourself before you get serious about securing a new job.
Similarly, if your job search is taking longer than you’d like, it’s important not to get disheartened. Focusing your time and energy on other passions and interests whilst you continue your search can be a powerful way of staying motivated.
We hope you’ve found some helpful advice in this article. For more job-search tips, take a look at our careers section. Here, you’ll find advice on anything from preparing for your interview to handing in your notice.
We also have a wide range of stories from career changers who took a leap of faith later in life and landed on their feet. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, why not take a look?
How’s your job search going? Do you have any additional tips that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.