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Job-seeking Tips for the Over 55s

In spite of Age Discrimination legislation the jobs market can still feel like it tends to focus on young people between the ages of 18 and 25. Yet the over 55s represent about 30% of the UK and EU population and employers can benefit from employing people of all ages, particularly as it has been recognised that the over 55s have much to offer.

Attributes of older workers can benefit all kinds of employers operating in different market sectors. Employers need to hire people from across the working age ranges, helping them to prosper from a variety of competencies.

We’ve compiled the following tips which could help you change your life for the better. Your first step starts here by reading this blog!

1. Create a career and personal Audit

Think about the career path you’ve followed to date, the jobs you did to get there, and what you can offer an employer that your younger counterparts can’t. Your knowledge, experience and competencies, as well as your personal attitude to work might be just what an employer is looking for. It is a plus that older workers are more likely to be satisfied with their work than their younger counterparts, as well as remaining loyal to their employer.

A personal audit might also allow you to consider how you can apply your hobbies, turning them into something you can sell as a self-employed person or to an employer. Utilising skills you enjoy using is more likely to see you getting greater job satisfaction than a job which is purely to pay the bills.

2. Never give in

You can achieve whatever you want, but there may be a few knocks along the way. Ahmad from Oldham recently told BBC Panorama that it took 1,000 applications before he gained a new job, but his determination to succeed and flexibility finally allowed him to find what he wanted.

3. Research the jobs market

Research the market for the kinds of jobs that fit your personal and career profile by using social networks, newspapers, magazines and other sources. Focus on finding employers that openly value the contribution of the over 55s, and be willing to retrain or take a cut in salary in order to get your foot firmly back on your career ladder. However, while you should be flexible it’s also important to protect yourself from being exploited on the account of your age.

4. Ask for Advice

If you need moral support or advice, it can be a good idea to speak to an organisation that provides you with guidance about job-hunting strategies for older people, as well as inform you of your rights in law. They might even be able to provide you with access to various useful resources that could assist you in your pursuit of new employment. You may also wish to discuss available opportunities and retraining, to start down a new or different career path.

5. Customise your CVs and cover letters

Our research shows that you will gain more job interviews by customising your CVs and cover letters to each application.

6. Review

Set yourself goals and objectives, reviewing what you have achieved while taking note of things that haven’t quite happened. Don’t be afraid of failure as that can often be how we learn, though do remain open to feedback and self-analysis or constructive criticism from others in order to create a job-winning strategy.

We also recommend that you read other informative articles on Jobsite, which usually apply to people in all age groups.

Additional reading links:

Business Link: Age Positive Campaign – This is targeting employers, but it can still provide a useful insight into the legal obligations that employers must respect and adhere to.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC)

Department of Work and Pensions – Although focused on making employers aware of their legal obligations and why “Age isn’t an issue”, this is a useful document to read. It will allow you to find out about the options available to you as an older worker, while giving you the legal knowledge to stand up for your rights.

Job Centre Plus (Directgov) – Information about the Age Discrimination Act, which came into force in October 2006.

Third Age Employment Network (TAEN)

European Commission

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  • G. St John-Knight

    Breadth of experience, and an attitude of commitment, reliability, wanting still to seek a challenge are all important considerations to put forward to a potential employer. Although these will not necessarily guarantee a job offer, your personality and determination will shine through.

  • Inga

    You need to stay positive when job hunting as there are times when the age and gender discrimination you receive is blatant and utterly illegal. I keep myself going by knowing that when I do get a job it will be somewhere that likes ‘people like me’ and so I will enjoy going to work.

  • Colin F Smith

    I have applied for around 60 jobs, and am currently working for agencies, road sweeping,recycling,driving and car valetting, this time last year I was a fulltime college lecturer.My current attitude is well if employers do not want me on account of my age (56) it is more fool them and consequently their mistake and loss.I have spent hours and hours mulling over ridiculous application forms for none jobs, and also uploaded ,downloaded and compiled CVs and covering letters,wasting my life away.I,m sure it is with employers a control and power trip, a game which I am rapidly losing interest in. They are not floating their pathetic boats, and empowering their ego’s at my expense anymore,I have very nearly had enough of their particular power games.

  • Colin F Smith

    They must all think they are so perfect, what right have they to prejudge people because of their age? Who do they think they are?

  • Wardy

    Its a breath of fresh air to hear positive comments and congratulate Colin in taking up any type of work. I was made redundant and took up temporary assignments for 2 years to keep in work. There then came a point where I really wanted stability and security at the age of 52. I have applied for over 70 permanent jobs and had over 10 interviews. Looking for a job is a full time job in its self! I am well worth the money with so much experience and knowledge. Younger people have more time off sick, have babies and have to look after the children when they are sick. I have been there and got the T shirt, someone give us over 50′s a chance!

  • Paul Grant

    After a full carreer in the British Army I found a position in the City of London where I remained for over sixteen years. three years ago I was earning a very good salary but staff reductions and reorganisation meant that I had to move-on and I found a much lower paid job with nothing like the status I once had, but it paid the mortgage. That lasted for two years and I have now been unemployed for almost six months with absolutely no assistance from my local job centre at all due to my age. They literally did not want to know and in fact gave me misleading and incorrect information. After chasing literally hundreds of jobs, writing letters to local employers and surfing the internet every single day and every night for months, I have now found a very junior position which pays just over the minimum wage (£6.70 per hour) but I am glad to have a job at all. There is no help out there but if you perservere and keep plugging at it yourself, you are in with a chance. Determination and self confidence are essential.

  • John Johnson

    Quite a full-time job LOOKING for the right vacancies but need to keep it in perspective.
    1. Better have the Job near where I happen to live than have more of the day in commuter-trips than getting ANYTHING done!!
    2. Better guide the vacancy to how we would see the planet used such as preserving w odland/footpath/cyclepath, having “dumped” waste separated into separate glass/steel/paper/plastic with re-use in mind.., reducing emissions and increasing use of sustainable energy resources, than put up with “compromise” for the sake of the pay “benefits” which we probably wouldn’t be given anyway!!

    Make A Difference!!!

  • edina

    I’ve started casually looking as I don’t know if I’m ready to hang by Boots up Yet! I got tired previously of All the ?’s & the Passport business every time I went to an Agency!I think from my Varied Experience over the Years, the way I speak,my manner & other things!There should be some sort of Papers/Law that Stop all this ??? Its humiliating!! Its as though We’ve Never done a Days Work but in fact its Them that Don’t have theLife Experience& Varied Experience sometimes they even know how to treat the Over 55′s with the Respect thats due!
    But no withstanding all of what I went through, I have still decided I’d like to try again! I need a New Challenge, though I don’twish to be madly Stressed! Anyway we’ll see?!

  • RG

    I am also 50+, have Not had a F/T job in 10yrs, I apply for 100 jobs on average a week! I find Age, Disabilities, & being English is a barr to Me! All of which is illegal! + the fact knowing that Foreigners get paid Half the minium wage paid by the Employer, & the other half is paid by Us! + the employer gets upto £500 per Foreigner employed! Thus We are Paying Twice! How can an Englishman Compete + That!?
    How do I feel, well I’ll let you guess!

  • RG

    + Guess what…They want us to work untill we are 72!
    Some Hope!

  • D Morgan

    How iteresting the above reports. Good to know that I am not alone, agewise.
    I have this week had an agency from the SW contact me. Yet unable to come to terms with the fact, in the former major plc I worked for, not all are engineers. Back office role. I have put in for thousands of jobs, but am sure age apartheid is alive and well. Only one in the group I was in made redundant has found a job, via his wife.

  • Chas

    Nice to see that my feelings are not just mine and that my experiences with employers are not my imagination. Like Colin and Wardy I am in my 50′s and feel that I have a wealth of experience, have seen “it all before” and can help companies in these difficult times. I too have gone down the agency route and followed it up with the self employed route and for me they both have much to offer if only the employers would play their part. Too often agency workers are regarded as the lowest of the low and their full potential goes unused. Certainly for me it was a (very) low paid way of staying in employment and a good way of studying different company cultures and values. Many a director could learn more about the accuracy of the information he/she make million pound decisions on by spending a few weeks on the “shop floor”. The self employed/franchise/contractor field seems to be a way for companies to divest themselves of their responsibility to comply with legislation such as working time or health and safety – any non compliance and you can be terminated whereas if you were employed by them it would take ages to process and may lead them into facing prosecution.
    I have lost count of the jobs I have applied for and am suffering from a distinct lack of feedback I know what I have to offer but as a goal minded person tend to go for what I want, what I can show I can do and use any job as an experience gainer and bill payer. I have modified my CV for each application write a different letter hopefully emphasising the correct experience but this is a numbers game and it only takes one lucky break to get the right job — please can it come a before I go broke in low paid temporary jobs!!
    Mean time keep those vacancies coming my way so I can lessen those odds.

  • Phil

    As an over 55 seeking employment, I agree totally with Colin’s comments and I also feel this is a circus (of none jobs and false equality statements). RG is also right that the indigeneous male population are being overlooked by this fallacy that British workers are lazy and unreliable. Until employers practise, what my dear old Gran always said “charity begins at home” I can’t see the job market improving for us oldies.
    Having recently attended an interview chaired by a 30 something person, this is also is another problem facing the over 55′s. With our work and life experience we tend to portray, albeit sub-consciously, an over confidence, that can make the interviewee nervous – “he knows more than me”, though they overlook the fact, they could nurture that knowledge to their own advantage.

  • robert royston

    finding a job for over 55s is geting harder to find I been looking for work two year

  • roger

    The joke is the GOV now want us to work longer.

  • ShaunG

    Thank you everyone! At last I feel as though not alone at the age of 52! I’ve made it through to interview after interview and have managed to come a close second everytime to a younger candidate, normally an internal candidate or one that is known to a member of the panel. I’m given a variety of reasons, from being overqualified for the post, underqualified (lack of degree qual) for the job, or that the travel may be too much for me at my age!! As ex Army (22 years) I find the treatment I have received by our caring Job Centres and Government is a disgrace. I’ll keep trying though, in true Army spirit!!

  • Alan

    I have been doing contract jobs since the age of 50 and am now 55, trying to get a permenant position has been almost impossible. My last contract was suddenly finished with very little notice on 23 July, and I have lost count of the number of applications I have sent out, the worst thing is not even getting any form of response from what are probably 20-30 somethings in HR, who take one look at my age, meaning that it goes in file13! I can’t even get warehouse jobs!!

  • Maggie

    I’m a contractor (note: *not* ‘been doing contracts’). The market out there is tough at the moment, but with the right attitude and persistence I get the contracts eventually.

    I’m not interested in permanent positions so don’t get into a tizz if there are none out there. No-one deserves a job and d’you know something? I don’t give a stuff about my age.

    PS – I’m 51.

  • Phil

    Ah yes…..Alan. Warehouse work, I too have tried to gain work in this form of employment, to no avail. The perception, they have, of the over 50′s is that we are geriatric has beens, incapable of lifting a bag of sugar and have lost our mental ability to count. It never seems to register, that the majority of us are fit and healthy, still performing our own home maintenance and housekeeping. Still climbing ladders, gardening, concreting, decorating etc and we can walk, some of us are still able to run. Never………..shock horror.

    But the final straw came last week, I could not even get an interview for a well known high street store, stacking shelves. Yes folks, its illegal, its wrong, but openly exists… ageism. Employers are wary of us and many will not even entertain the thought of hiring us for one second, but the Government (bless them) want us to work longer.
    My question is…………………..where?

  • Paul

    I’ve only been unemployed for a few weeks and already I’ve been told I MUST attend a “Back to Work Session” or other wise I loose out on my job seekers allowance, its like being back at school, they say jump and you ask how high. I feel like a second class citizen after all these years of paying my stamp to date, what next out come the thumb screws if you don’t comply.I’m 56, I would love to take early retirement if the government would pull their finger out and look around them to see whats going on but maneuvering barriers up age wise isn’t the way ahead.

  • Paul

    Time wasters who constantly enjoy being out of work should be forced into doing some kind of volunteering an opportunity to encourage involvement in the community instaed of taking all the time, stop the influx of mulity groups who only come here to take.

  • Stan

    I have been looking for 7.5 tonne driving work since i was made compulsary redundent in May 2010. I am 56 years old and have 5.5 years experience of driving these vehicles. I have some medical conditions, but i take the correct medication for these conditions. I am leagually able to drive, and have no problems. I have applied for jobs over 200 miles away from where i live( willing to lodge throughout the week at my own expence). Three things come into play here. 1, ageism 2,medical conditions 3, workers from local area. Am i to old to work? Is my body to decrepid to even lift a bag of sugar? Will i ever be considered for work if i have to travel more than 500 yards? Oh! for the joys of spring.

  • Jurg Denzler

    Hi Stan companies should not discriminate on grounds of your age, that is against employment law. Would you consider trying bus driving? As far as medical conditions, if as you say you are controlling yours with medication companies must make any reasonable adjustment necessary for a person with medical conditions. As far as looking for jobs have you got a CV? and if so have you submitted it to agencies on-line? It often helps, as they will be able to send it to far more possible recruiters than you would have time to do on your own,
    anyway I hope that you caan get work and this advice helped.
    Good luck from Jurg

  • Phil

    Maggie, agree with what you say, may I just add, that though not everyone deserves a job, but everyone has a right to a job, this edict seems to have been lost/forgotten, by past governments ironically the last being Labour (contradiction in terms there).

    Paul, yes I have had the same jobcentre verbal attacks. My advise is treat it as a “tick in the box” exercise be humble, polite and obliging and you will keep your JSA. Another trick is for you to give them a problem, be it re-training, CV writing, interview techniques etc. and though they’ll not be too responsive, it will take the pressure off you for a while. You just have to learn to play the game………I’m afraid.

  • mark

    Well i’m 54 yrs old, got made redundant in June 2009, Building services foreman.
    Still out of work, applied for hundreds of jobs, even entry level jobs paying minimum wage, had a couple of interviews, but that is as far as i can get.
    The government want us to work till we are 70+ but who is going to employ people at that age when the majority of people unemployed at around the 50yrs old cant get employment.
    I too have a medical condition now, which makes it even harder to gain employment.
    Even though there should be no age, disability,or health barriers….Companies are full of them and only pay lip service, I really feel like giving up.

  • Josie

    Hi have to agree with many of the comments as a 56 year old I lost my job over a year ago(the firm went bust) since then I have had the humiliating experience of having to sign on every 2 weeks in a dismal Job Centre surrounded by posters warning me that I will be arrested if I abuse the staff, help offered if I am on drugs, and dire warnings to benefit cheats it is the most depressing place I have ever visited! I, like so many have sent off countless CVs applications etc but to no avail, my so called advisor told me> off the record> that I had very little chance of finding anything as not only am I in my 50s divorced I also have a 14 year old son
    I am at the stage where I will take any job going but there is nothing in the rural area where I live due to the change in the retirement age, will I have to keep signing on in my 60s? God, what a thought !

  • Jonathan

    Oh how so many of the above comments ring true! I lost my job (contract ended) 12 months ago, I went to sign on and was told “oh you’ve been paying the wrong type of National Insurance, you’re not entitled to anything” job seekers for all? No chance. I pointed out that I paid £200 a week NI so if they would give me nothing, give me my contributions back. Guess what, I have lived here all my life and as such, entitled to NOTHING. Applied for 500 jobs now and had 2 interviews but no job. Nothing at all about being over 50 of course! Guess like last year I shall be a postman for Christmas! I am getting so depressed about the whole situation in this damn country.

    • Alvinperkins2

      You should be entitled to “contribution” based Job seekers if you have paid enough NI for the previous Tax year. If they say you haven’t ask for the details on what’s on the computer records. Alot of the time the contributions are not “posted” to the correct NI No or in some cases the employer fails to pay them to the HMRC. You should also have received a ” deficiency notice” saying there was a shortfall

  • Dave Hay

    I am 55 a self employed hgv driver with lots of experience, i have other good skills and a good personality to go with it, my hobbies are golf and did scuba diving for 25 years, i think if i had to train again lets say for 2 years then i am 57 getting older thats the problem, you get to the stage when you give up, can some body help

  • Stephencoffey

    Paid nearly 40 years n.i. contributions been told havent paid enough so jobseekers allowance
    will stop.Cannot claim income based jobseekers because wife works over 24 hours,so i have
    been told.Just wondering if there is any other benifit i can claim.

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