How to find a job in your 50s or 60s

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

notes on paper and phone

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

happy couples in street

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

social media icons phone

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

stand out

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 your 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

illegal legal handwriting

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

sitting looking at mountains

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.

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. Email us at [email protected]

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15 thoughts on “How to find a job in your 50s or 60s

  1. Avatar
    Mike Shears on Reply

    It may be illegal to be turned down due to your age, but it happens a lot and these days companies are skilled at “finding reasons” not to employ someone older. The most common excuse I’ve heard for not employing someone who is over 50 is “you’re overqualified for this job!”

  2. Avatar
    Baxter on Reply

    I agree with Mike. The last role I was interviewed for I was asked if I was planning a cruise. I am sure other applicants were not asked this question!

  3. Avatar
    Mike Brown on Reply

    Some great advice for anyone in this article. It is certainly more challenging when you are 50+ , which is what i have found recently. I do not understand why some Companies requeat your age range, which makes me feel that they make a desicion based on this.

  4. Avatar
    Larry Steward on Reply

    I just discovered this wonderful site after a friend recommended it. I’m in South Carolina but I work online so location doesn’t make a difference however over here we face the same obstacles as I’m sure most other locations around the world. I serve as a Life Coach to support others in their retirement life like myself who want to continue earning an income just to give you a frame of reference. What I recommend is to focus on your in-depth experience that gives you an advantage over the younger crowd. Show them how your maturity, reliability, savviness, creative thinking, problem-solving skills, etc. is such a valuable asset you can provide. You don’t have to return to work you’ve done in the past. Think about what you would love to do now, find others doing that and find a way to connect with them. They will help you follow the path that led them to where they are now. Operate like a news reporter trying to learn about the interesting work they are doing and what challenges they are facing. If you can help them with that challenge, then the discussions get serious and opportunities can be developed. Good luck.

  5. Avatar
    Larry Steward on Reply

    As a Life Coach supporting people in retirement who want to continue earning an income, I recommend sticking with highly professional networking techniques as the best way to uncover new opportunities. This means doing enough self-assessment to know the best combination of skills and interests you want to rely on in the work you are looking for. Find others doing similar work by rolling up your sleeves and doing your research. Contact these “resident experts” and chat with them by introducing yourself as having a passion for doing what they are doing. They will relate to you and appreciate your interest and that you have somehow connected with them. Don’t turn this connection into a serious talk about landing a job – that could end the discussion. Instead, ask about how they got the job and more about the work they do. See if you can uncover a challenge they are working on and if so, how you could possibly provide a solution. Keep doing that and sooner than later, you will create an opportunity for yourself without dealing with all the rejection other approaches subject you to.

  6. Avatar
    CHRIS on Reply

    And in the Real World. If you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, a vast majority of companies do not want to employ you. Now with
    the hundred of thousands of people who have been made redundant because of the Covid 19 pandemic, people in their
    50’s and 60’s chances of them being employed are now even slimmer. These positive articles are all well and good but for
    every 50 0r 60 year old who finds employment, thousands more (like myself) are continually rejected. It doesn’t matter how
    many years you’ve worked, or how well you know the job, if your 63 and a person in their 20’s apply for the same, position
    who’s the company going to employ. The Old Boy, who is 3 years from retirement, or the youngster who has 40 years to go?
    Doom and Gloom? Maybe, but I’m also being realistic.
    Now will I get an answer to my comment, or will it be removed? Because in the present climate, honesty and Free Speech
    are Not Allowed.

  7. Avatar
    Valerie Lindsay on Reply

    I think you’re absolutely right Chris. It seems that once you’re in your 50’s society would have you believe it’s time to get in your coffin, not look for a job… And to cap it all there are more hurdles to jump if you’re a woman, divorced and black. Trying to remain positive and upbeat as is my nature, but it’s extremely difficult normally let alone at the moment…

  8. Avatar
    Linda Fielding on Reply

    Thankyou all for expressing views, it is harder when you are nearly 60, without a doubt. I appreciated reading the comments as my opinions are very similar but were mine…. now with reading this… its good to know people are out there feeling similar things. Stay safe and keep trying we have so much to offer….we just need an employer that realises..

  9. Avatar
    Nigel WIllis on Reply

    Apart from acting as a reminder, does this article offer any original insights? Over the past 3 years I have read many articles from the well known organisations/ groups and i am very rarely impressed.

    This year my resolution is to provide feedback whenever possible. Over the eleven ideas described above , how many truly original? Maybe a rare appearance of phrases like “Be your own cheerleader” , but items 1 to 8 should certainly be standard fare for job hunters of all ages.

    In webinars , i still here people ask “how long should my CV be”. I find this extremely worrying because i would hope that any person who has just written their CV will then know the answer to that question.

    I blame some careers experts for over elaborating when a simple answer will do or preaching untested alternatives before they are shot down by their peers. I also have to blame us , the job seeker for not picking up on the basic soon enough.

    I would like to see more original material rather than just current thoughts reformatted. Am I on my own in this ?

    1. Avatar
      Gaetano on Reply

      Hi Nigel, many thanks for your feedback. We welcome any feedback you have – good or bad, on how we can improve the Rest Less experience so your message is great.

      I see your point of view there and what our Editorial Team have tried to achieve with this article is to address instanced of people over 50 who return to the jobs market after 20/30 years: we thought it is helpful to have a refresher on some of the core steps in looking for work.

      In addition to that article, we have plenty of other jobs content beyond it, that include a wide range of ideas and tailored advice for over 50s.
      You can see all the articles in here

      After all, this is what Rest Less is about: we do our best to provide help, tips, inspiration and guidance for work.

      Hope that helps.


  10. Avatar
    Peter Chapman on Reply

    Hi Every one, have had some Zoom interviews over the last 2 weeks , but nothing has come of them. The out come comments were , you are very good at your job , but we have found someone with the right experience. But at the start of interview , they were looking for someone like me , and were super impressed with cv. Then why the turn around? age ?
    Second interview the employer asked me where I see my self in five years time, had they even read my cv , they could see how old I was, left me feeling stupid, also asked a question if COVID-19 ended right now , what would I do? the questions they asked were for a school leaver type questions.
    This has now put me off from applying for a role that I am experienced at ….and that I love..

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By providing your email you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time through the link in our emails.