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 hard to know how to start climbing.
Finding your next challenge is no different. Especially if you’ve not been in the job market for a while, or you’re thinking about doing something different to what you’ve done in the past.
We speak to many people who struggle with those first steps. Focusing on the right things, and approaching those tasks in a positive way, can make an enormous 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 when you’re over 50.
1. Decide what you want from your new job role
Before you decide to take the leap and apply for a new job, make sure you 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 really helpful way of clarifying your thinking. For example, are you looking for a job with shorter hours, more flexibility or greater job satisfaction? These kind of decisions will help you choose what type of role to go for.
Looking for a part-time job, but unsure what sort of work you’d like to do? Then why not read our article on top part-time roles? Alternatively, if you’re looking for a complete career change and you’re unsure where to start, why not browse our career change guides 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 for two reasons. The first is that by thinking about all the people you know, you’ll be able 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.
The other reason to make the most of your connections is that you may have friends or family members who know (and can introduce you to) the 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 it’s 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 sites
Once you’ve got a clear idea about what you want from a job role, it’s worth spending a few hours browsing job sites. 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 jobs but none are in your area at the moment, it’s worth signing up to receive job alerts, so that you can apply as soon as something suitable does become available.
If you’ve been in the same job or company for a number of years, the process of searching for a job online may be somewhat unfamiliar, but it’s where most companies advertise their roles these days. Why not start by browsing our job board to find something local to you? Or if you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for yet, you could take a look at our career guides, to get some ideas.
4. Revamp your CV
The first thing you should do once you’ve considered what sort of job you want to go for is to 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 could include on your CV. But rather than trying to include everything, and ending up with several pages of information that risks overwhelming prospective employers, be selective and be sure to use a concise personal summary to really highlight your strengths up front. 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, then you may not yet be aware of the importance of a LinkedIn profile when looking for a professional job. LinkedIn is the ultimate social media tool for professional people of all ages who’re 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 employers’ reason 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 maximise it as much as possible to show off your skills and experience.
6. Write a cover letter
We’re always surprised by how many people do not attach a cover letter – it’s a massive missed opportunity to stand out and demonstrate that you are a serious applicant.
Employers receive hundreds of applications, often from people who blast out applications without fully reading and understanding the job role – so it can be time-consuming for them to filter applications.
Don’t fall at the first hurdle by not bothering to attach a cover letter.
A cover letter is your opportunity to let your personality shine and explain anything that you’re CV doesn’t. For example, if you’ve got gaps in employment, your cover letter is the place to explain why and what you were doing instead. No matter what your reasons are for employment gaps, always try to highlight the positives e.g. 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 and should let the employer know what you could potentially do for their company. It’s also your opportunity to tell an employer why it is that you particularly want to work for their company.
This is your first chance to speak directly to the employer and make a lasting first impression… so make it count!
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 e.g. 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 will 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 always best to call or send an email to find out the status of your application. Even if your application has been unsuccessful, always ask for feedback so that you know what you could improve for next time.
8. Prepare for every interview
If you receive a phone call or email from an employer inviting you 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 to your interview date. It’s best practice to learn as much about the company and role as possible, whilst 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; 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.
9. Know your rights
Throughout your job search, it’s important to make sure that you always know your rights; remembering that no company is legally allowed to turn you away from a job role based on your age. Acas offer 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.
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 will 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….
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 more serious about securing a new job.
Similarly, if your job search is taking longer than you’d like, it’s important not to get downhearted. Focusing your time and energy on other passions and interests whilst you continue your search can be a powerful way of staying motivated., This could be a great time to reignite a passion for an old hobby, try out some local volunteering or simply spend some extra time with friends and family.