By: Sylvia Jones
Changing careers as an older worker is absolutely feasible, once careful consideration is given to the potential risks. As an older worker, you might have spent your professional life striving to climb the career ladder, and now you want to make a detour – this is a major life changing event that requires great preparation.
A career change may involve a drop in salary, or it may involve a shocking announcement to friends and family that you are leaving the safety of your current position for the unchartered waters of self-employment.
In the following article Ms Sylvia Jones Director – Bermuda Operations of Elevate Executive Selection offers key advice on some of the questions most asked by older job seekers:
How soon before retirement should people start making plans to transition to a new career?
Retirement is typically about stepping aside from your main career or stepping back from a full-time role into a part-time one, or transitioning into a new career altogether. The sooner your planning commences, the better, and ideally several years before. Retirement itself is a completely new experience, and when you add to that all the facets of a new career, it signifies a big change in one’s life. Transitioning to a new career requires careful planning and ideally not less than a year is required for an individual to successfully secure the right role for this next phase of their lives.
What are the top three things to consider in selecting a new career?
The success of an older worker’s career change is fundamentally based on their attitude towards change! Some people are lucky enough to simply know what they want to do and end up in satisfying careers without giving it much thought. However, many do not, and they often don’t put enough effort into then choosing their occupation, or they pick it for the wrong reasons – maybe they choose careers that seem secure or pay well.
The key to career success in later life that includes satisfaction is to build your career around the type of work that interests you – something you can be passionate about. The type of work that, when you’re doing it, you lose all track of time. Success comes much easier when you are doing work that engages your natural strengths.
The top three things to consider in selecting a new career include:
- Identify your core skills/strengths
- Identify what you most enjoy doing
- Define what success looks like for you from the outset, as the decisions you make around your new career will be formed by these parameters.
What job search tips do you recommend to mature workers?
The big advantage older workers have is the very broad network of contacts they have already built up over the years. Given that the ‘Hidden Job Market’ accounts for almost 60% of jobs, it is important to be able to leverage their contacts to find the next opportunity that is right for them. In looking at their contacts, examine who can make an introduction and don’t be afraid to ask.
What interview preparation tips do you have for someone who has not had to apply for a job in a long time?
- Prepare: Before the interview, research the company. Who are they? What types of services do they provide? Who are their clients? Then, prepare for every possible question and know your resume. Seek out opportunities to practice your interviewing skills with others through mock interviews. Next, prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Remember that interviewing is a two¬ way street and your questions say something about who you are.
- Come to the interview with a personal branding toolkit: This should include business cards, a cover letter, resume, references document, and if you’re in a creative field, a portfolio of work. Each part of your toolkit should have a link to your LinkedIn profile which should be current. By doing this, you are viewed as someone who has come prepared, and crucially as someone who has kept up with technology and as such will be capable of handling the technology requirements of today’s workplace.
- Show positive body language: Sit up straight, smile, have a firm handshake and use eye contact during the interview. This shows respect for the people who are interviewing you. It also displays your interest in the position, which is important because there are so many people vying for the job that if you don’t come off as interested enough, you’ll be passed over.
What are the three biggest mistakes that older workers make when they are searching for employment?
- Assuming they are ‘overqualified’ for a role and that as a result, they would not get the job. While companies are wary of individuals who “appear” to be overqualified for a role, this should not deter older workers from applying. The key is to be honest about the reasons for applying, why the job appeals, and what additional strengths they can bring to the team and company.
- Not keeping abreast of technology: this means having a LinkedIn Profile, having a mobile-friendly readable CV, being capable in the use of computers and the basic software programmes that would form the minimum requirements of most jobs. Often older workers come across in interviews as reluctant to embrace new technology – with Artificial Intelligence overtaking many administrative duties, every person in the workforce needs to be comfortable in working with and learning new technologies, systems and digital process.
- Not being informed about the industry they are searching for employment in. It is important to be aware of recent industry changes, market activities that may affect the company’s performance or changes in personnel. It is important that in conversations with contacts, interviewers, potential future new colleagues, that older workers are informed and confident in their knowledge of the industry they are seeking to join.
What do older workers often fail to consider when they are planning to search for employment once they retire?
Older workers often fail to consider that when a potential employer looks at their resume, they may think that given the amount of experience they have, they will be looking for a high salary. It is really important that older workers make it very clear in their Cover Letter and CV header that at this stage in their career, having a job they enjoy is more important to than salary.
Sylvia Jones is Director – Bermuda Operations of Elevate Executive Selection, an international recruitment company with offices in Bermuda, Dublin and Hong Kong. Elevate Bermuda offers tailored Executive Search Solutions, Recruitment, Outplacement Support and Leadership Development Coaching to leading international companies in Bermuda. www.elevateselection.ie To learn more about Elevate contact Sylvia Jones on Sylvia@ elevateselection.ie or visit the Elevate team in the Dallas Building, 3rd Floor, 7A Victoria Street, Hamilton HM 11.