10 Tips to Re-Enter the Workforce after 40

A great attitude is the best asset you can have on your resume. And it’s ageless, writes Emma Bangay.

As uber-employer, Sir Richard Branson explains of hiring staff: “At Virgin, we look for attitude. If they’ve got the right attitude, we can give them the skills. If they’ve got the wrong attitude, it doesn’t matter how skillful they are, they will be a liability”.

Therefor, armed with the right attitude – and a pressed shirt at the very least! – you too can revisit a career, insists Rupert French, renowned career development expert and author of How to Get A Good Job After 50 (available in March.)

“With the right approach, you can almost guarantee getting the sort of job you want and usually within about six weeks,” he explains, “but only if you use the right approach and work at it as if it were a full-time job.”

Ageless Attributes:

Mature job seekers have several attributes that many of their younger colleagues lack, Rupert encourages. These include:

1. Reliability: On the whole mature age workers take less sick days than younger ones.

2. Responsibility: Older workers are more willing to take responsibility for their own work as well as supervising the work of others.

3. Calm in Crisis: Older employees are usually better at handling crises, notes Rupert, as they’ve seen it all before and know how to handle the situation.

4. Motivation To Mentor: “They are often willing to mentor younger colleagues and this is usually appreciated not only by the employer but also by the younger colleague,” he explains.

5. Long-Haul Loyalty: More mature workers are actually more likely to be with the same employer in ten years’ time, “unlike their younger colleagues who tend to change jobs more frequently,” notes Rupert.

“Incidentally a number of research papers published in the US and the UK over the past couple of years indicate that a number of employers prefer hiring baby-boomers to millennials / Gen Y for these reasons,” he adds.

Tips To Finding Your Perfect Career: 

1. Remember, You Are Currently Employed. By You: Instead think of yourself as self-employed, the CEO of Yourself Pty Ltd, a micro-business currently without ‘clients’. “Your prospective clients are, of course, your prospective employers,” explains Rupert.

2. Plan Your Path: Look to the future and choose a career trajectory that excites you and for which you will be motivated, “because on the whole employers value motivation ahead of skill,” assures Rupert.

3. Keep In With The Clique: Keep in touch with former colleagues and also reach out to meet new people especially those who may be relevant to your new career direction.

4. Join The Club: Join a community organisation or service club. Take on responsible roles because these demonstrate valuable work skills including communication and interpersonal relationships.

5. Be Seen On Social Media. “I don’t mean an online résumé, they are rubbish because they are not tailored to any specific position,” says Rupert. Instead, he insists photos of you sailing or working on a project building a school in an underdeveloped country show what sort of person you are and employers like to be able to judge how you would fit into their corporate culture.

6. Study To Up-Skill:  This is especially imperative for the new career direction, encourages Rupert, adding that it’s not something that should be left to the last minute either. “You will have added confidence if you have been developing your skill levels over two to three years than you would if it had only been two to three months,” he notes.

7. Create An Online Army: “If seeking a professional job, create a profile on LinkedIn and join some of their professional discussion groups,” suggests Rupert.  “This not only helps you get up to date with the industry’s thought-leaders but it also helps you to identify and connect with relevant, active people,” he says.

8. Don’t Be A Victim: Don’t say “There aren’t any jobs” or “No one wants me; I’m too old”. Instead say; “I haven’t managed to crack a good job yet – but I will!”

9. Embrace Job Searching As Your Full-time Job: “As CEO of Yourself Pty Ltd, what do you want your Chief Sales Rep to be doing, 9-5, Monday to Friday?” proposes Rupert.  “Exactly. Looking for clients. And guess who is the Chief Sales Rep. That’s right; it’s you!

10. Research The Role: Successful businesses invest a lot of time in research. “Your micro-business needs to do the same. Ideally you need to research each job lead sufficiently to be able to plan your first few weeks in the job,” says Rupert. “It’s a big ask but it gets results. If you can plan your first few weeks in the job, you will be able to answer interview questions as if you were already in the position. This really tells the interviewers that you will ‘hit the ground running’.”

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