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Overcoming Ageism if You Want to Resume Work

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Ageism Workplace Overcoming Ageism

For the over 50s in particular, their birthdate has tended to blind potential employees to the range of skills and personal qualities that a company could benefit from, but new legislation passed over the last year or so has helped to combat discriminatory practices based on age and has opened up doors for workers to carry on working past the usual retirement age.

However, for those who have already retired then find themselves either wanting or needing to go back to work, it’s still important to be able to break down the invisible ‘barriers’ which many employers still put up when it comes to considering an applicant for a job. However, there are many things you can do if you’re past conventional retirement age but want to work again for a different employer and, whilst there can be no guarantees, the following advice is aimed at helping you to maximise your chances of success.

Transferable Skills
One of the problems older workers tend to face when they look for another job after they retire is that of pigeon-holing themselves into a particular job title. The “I am a trained…” syndrome. The fact is that, over the course of your working life, you’ll have inevitably picked up many skills – some of which might have been very specific to the nature of your job but you’ll have probably gained far more skills and experience that could be utilised in a whole host of other jobs too. You need to sit down and write a new CV concentrating on those transferable skills in particular and targeting them to specific jobs that you’re interested in today.

Be Keen To Learn
Some employers hold the mistaken belief that older workers with plenty of training and experience behind them no longer want to learn new skills. If you do want to find another job after you retire, you need to be able to demonstrate that taking on new training and learning new skills and working methods is not a problem to you. Maybe you can even demonstrate that by highlighting any new hobbies you’ve taken up or any college courses you’ve enrolled upon since you retired.

Don’t Be Money Oriented
Whilst some people do enjoy their jobs, even those folk know that the main reason they go out to work is for the money and, whilst this will be no different for you, you need to place less of an emphasis on your ‘monetary value’ and more on what skills and experience you can bring to a company and what you hope to get out of the experience too.

Employers know that skills and experience often come at a price so they’ll often choose younger, less experienced people and train them up as opposed to spending ‘top dollar’ salaries on an older worker.

Therefore, be prepared to work for less money than you may have been used to and more focused on other aspects where you feel you can contribute to the company and what you, personally, will be able to get out of it. An example might be wanting the opportunity to pass on some of your skills and ‘tricks of the trade’ to other less experienced colleagues as well as being open to learning new ways of working and listening to new ideas from them too.

Emphasise Your Reliability
Where an older worker may score more highly than their younger counterpart is on reliability and aspirations. Employers will most likely perceive you to fall into one of two categories. Either you don’t have to return to work but have chosen to or you need the money. Therefore, they’ll be more inclined to think that you’ll be reliable and, obviously, this can also be backed up by references from your previous employers. Also, providing you come across well at interview, employers are more likely to value your stability in that you’re looking for a job as opposed to a career ‘stepping stone’ and are therefore more likely to stay in the job longer as opposed to moving on somewhere else. You may also be more flexible and able to work the occasional extra shift now and again at short notice.

Many employers will say that “we can always train someone to do a particular job but we can’t train them to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the workers” and that is true. And so, many employers will simply not hire you if they don’t tend to have a policy of recruiting older workers. That’s going to be their loss. However, there’s little point in wasting your time trying to break down stereotypical viewpoints so do your research first and target those companies which actively promote employing a diverse workforce. As long as you approach the process positively and focus on what you could bring to an organisation, there will be many employers out there who are searching for somebody just like you.

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