Over 60 and Looking for a Job? Here’s 10 Tips to Get You Started
Looking for a job in your 60s can be a real challenge. For starters, you may not have expected to be in a position to have to look for work at this age. A six-year increase to the women’s state pension age in less than 10 years is a huge shift, which has left many with no choice but to continue working.
On top of that, age discrimination is still an issue within the workforce, which can sometimes mean that it’s harder to open doors than it should be.
For example, it’s not uncommon for our members to hear the words “you’re overqualified” as if it’s a compliment, when it’s clearly a sign of judgement and prejudice in the recruitment process.
Thankfully, all is not lost. More and more employers are recognising the talent that people of all ages have to offer. And although you may experience setbacks (who doesn’t?), by maintaining a positive outlook, your job search could unlock a new and exciting life chapter.
Would you like to learn some new skills, meet some new people and make a living doing something that you genuinely enjoy?
Like many important tasks in life, often the hardest part is getting started – and for many people, looking for a job is no different.
Sometimes it can feel like you’re at the bottom of a mountain, wondering how on earth you’re going to start climbing. But these 10 tips should help to set you on the right path.
Think About What You Want to Gain from Your Next Job
It’s important to start your job search by thinking carefully about what you actually want to gain from your next role. For example, perhaps you want to turn a passion into a day job, work part-time hours or give something back to the community.
You may find that writing your goals down on paper can help to clarify your thinking and give you a better idea about which sort of roles to go for.
If you’ve worked in the same position for a number of years, then the process of looking for a job may be somewhat unfamiliar. But once you have a clearer idea about your goals, one of the easiest ways to start looking is to spend an afternoon browsing online job boards.
This will help you to see what sort of jobs are available and which skills, experience and/or qualifications hiring managers are looking for. It can also help you to make a decision about non-negotiable factors, such as your working hours or commuting distance.
Connect with Others
As well as utilising online job boards, it can be helpful to connect with friends and colleagues far and wide – sometimes by simply reaching out for a coffee or picking up the telephone. Think about whether you know anyone already working in a role or industry that you’re interested in.
If you do, then it’s worth asking whether they can offer advice on your job application, recommend you to their current employer or just help to guide you in the right direction, which could help you land an interview sooner.
Create a CV That You’re Proud of
The first thing you should do, once you’ve decided what sort of roles you want to apply for, is to create a CV – or revamp your old one.
Being in your 60s, chances are you’ll have a wealth of skills and experience. But rather than including everything on your CV, stick to the two-page rule and don’t discuss any work experience from longer than 10–15 years ago, unless it is particularly relevant.
The best CVs are those which are clear, concise and relevant to the job description. Start by thinking about any skills or experience you have that could give you an advantage in your next role, and make them the main focus.
It’s crucial to add a short personal summary right at the beginning of your CV, highlighting your strengths and telling hiring managers why you are the best person for the job. Customize it to each job application to capture their attention in the first few seconds of reading your application.
Consider your CV a tool that employers use to form an impression of candidates based on skills and experience. Therefore, you are under no obligation to give any details about your age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
You also don’t have to provide specific information about any personal situation, health matter or caring responsibility that may have led to a gap in employment. It’s best to let employers make decisions about you based solely on your talent and capabilities, so consider leaving any unnecessary details out.
Write a Cover Letter
When applying for jobs, it’s not uncommon for people to forget to write a cover letter or simply choose not to, perhaps because they don’t consider it important, or just want to save time.
However, writing a cover letter is a real opportunity to help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of landing an interview.
Your cover letter is your chance to speak directly to hiring managers and let your personality shine through. You should use it to explain why you want to apply for a particular job with a particular company and to highlight the key things that you feel you could bring to the role.
This is also an ideal opportunity to explain anything that your CV may not; for example, employment gaps, which resulted from circumstances like illness, caring responsibilities or redundancy.
If you want to increase your chances of getting hired, then a cover letter is a must!
Set Yourself Up on LinkedIn
At present, LinkedIn is the ultimate social media tool for professional people of any age who wish to stay connected to the latest employment opportunities and information.
After an employer has read your job application, there’s a good chance that they will also look up your profile on LinkedIn, to try and find out more about you.
Whilst your job application should provide an employer with most of the information they need to decide whether to progress your application, many employers will look up candidates on social media by way of prep before an interview.
They may be looking to see if you’re up to date with modern technology – or simply if the details you’ve supplied them with are correct, as people are less likely to add false details to a public platform.
Because nowadays it is expected that a candidate applying for a job will also have a LinkedIn profile, if an employer sees that you don’t, then it does have the potential to cast doubt in their mind as to why not.
Although this doubt might not be strong enough to cost you an interview, candidates with an appealing LinkedIn profile that is consistent with their CV will often have an advantage, so it’s best to set up your profile early on in your job search!
By the way, if you already have any personal non-professional social media accounts such as Facebook and/or Instagram, then it can be a good idea to make these private, so that employers cannot gain access to personal information or comments, which could affect their professional opinion of you.
Keep a Record of Every Job You Apply for
Without keeping track of your job applications, it can be easy to end up feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere.
Each time you complete a job application and send it off, note down details like the date you applied, the name of the company and the job role. Then update this every time you get a response or an interview so you can keep track of your communications with each employer.
If you haven’t heard from an employer after about a week, then it’s worth sending a brief email to ask about the status of your application. If the response that comes back isn’t what you hoped for, then it’s still worth asking for feedback, so that you can focus on making improvements next time.
Some employers send out automated responses to candidates to inform them that they won’t be progressing onto the next stage of the application process.
Emails like these can be disheartening – especially if you spent a long time working on your application – but try not to take it personally as you won’t be alone. And it’s still worth asking for feedback anyway.
In general, tracking your applications will help you to monitor your progress and remind yourself how hard you’ve been working at your search.
Read Up on Your Rights
When it comes to your job search, knowledge is power, so it’s important to make sure that you know your rights. If you’re in your 50s, 60s or beyond, then keep in mind that no one can legally turn you away from a job role based on your age.
If, at any point, you do find yourself being treated unfairly, then it’s worth seeking help from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
Acas is an independent and free-to-use Government funded service, which can offer advice and guidance in areas of employment law and help you make a claim against an employer where necessary.
Be Interview Ready
You never know when you’re going to be offered an interview, and sometimes you may have to attend at short notice. For this reason, it’s best to prepare ahead of time.
When it comes to dress, the type of outfit you may be expected to wear to interview may differ. However, you will usually be expected to wear something formal or smart-casual (depending on the company and type of role you are interviewing for), so make sure you’re prepared and have suitable interview clothes ready.
It’s also a good idea to start practicing your interview technique. Interviewers will typically expect you to display good listening skills (you’re more likely to fail an interview for talking too much, rather than too little), a willingness to learn and an enthusiasm for the job and company you are applying for.
You should also be able to discuss your strengths and weaknesses and explain exactly what it is that you have to offer in this particular role with this particular company. Competency-based interview questions are also becoming an increasingly popular interview technique used by employers.
These are structured in such a way that is designed to find out whether you have the skills and competencies needed for the role, by finding out how you have handled real-life situations.
For example, “Can you describe a time when you solved a problem?” or “Can you give me an example of a time you worked well within a team?”
The most helpful thing you can do to prepare for these is to note down any skills or competencies relevant to the role you’re applying for and think of examples of when you may have used these.
Competency-based interview questions are all based on what you have already done, so as long as you can stay calm and think your answers through, you should have no problem showing your interviewer why you are the right person for the job.
It’s hard to predict how long it will take you to find a job, but regardless of the length of your job search, it’s essential to make sure you take steps to look after your happiness and general wellbeing.
Whilst it’s necessary to stay determined and focused during your search, it’s just as important to take regular breaks to do the things you enjoy. This could be anything from going out with a friend or taking a relaxing bath, through to working out in the gym or reading your favourite book.
Having a little time to yourself, where you remind yourself of your worth – regardless of whether or not you have a job – will help to keep you in a more positive frame of mind throughout your search and may even bring you job success sooner.
Don’t Lose Your Positive Attitude
No matter what happens during your job search, try to remember that the right job will come along. Nearly everyone experiences setbacks, but it helps if you can remain as positive as possible.
You might also find that it helps to join a Facebook group for job seekers in their 50s, 60s and beyond, as this can be a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and share tips and advice.
Ultimately, the best way to get others to believe in you is to believe in yourself. So, keep reminding yourself of how much you have to offer, and it will only be a matter of time before an employer sees that too.
How are you feeling about your job search? Is there anything in particular that’s working well for you? Please join the conversation and share your stories!