Mature Age Job Seekers: Reinventing Yourself for the New Workplace

Mature Age Job Seekers: Reinventing Yourself for the New Workplace

The description of mature age job seekers has changed since 2000. A mature age person can be in their early 40s. There's been a lot of complaints from mature age job seekers about the difficulties they face getting work, and a perceived prejudice against hiring them, despite Equal Opportunity laws.

Mature age job seekers can also sabotage their job hunting efforts themselves. In many cases, while their qualifications and skills are good, their methods are totally wrong. These problems have nothing to do with age, but rather a result of misconceptions which undermine their job hunting.

In self defense, mature age job seekers need to do a sort of internal audit of themselves, to see where they stand in the job market.

Misconceptions

  • You're not just 'getting back on the bus' when you go for a new job. The Great Recession has sped up the big cultural changes in the workplace which have been streamlining jobs and making much bigger demands on even lower level jobs. This is a performance based environment, and you need to clearly show the ability to be productive.
  • Familiarity with systems and technology is vital. This is a real, critically important issue in getting jobs. Employers don't want to have to train staff on expensive systems. Right or wrong, the perception of mature age job seekers is that they're either out of the technological loop, or are rusty.
  • Current experience is essential. For much the same reasons as systems and technology, experience in the current industry or professional environment is part of the essential job criteria, whether it's mentioned or not in job ads. This requirement is scuttling job applications for anyone who's been out of their industries for more than a few years. It's making life very difficult in particular for retirees who've had to go back to work.

Mature age job seekers need to understand these are not excuses for not hiring them. These are serious issues for employers. It's not a matter of "Would You Hire Your Parents?" as much as "Would You Hire Someone with a CV Full of Holes in All the Wrong Places?" The fact is that in many cases they just can't.

Reinventing yourself for the new job market

You can get around this situation, and it's fun. Taking it from the top:

  • Learn the new environment and how it operates. Talk to HR and contact officers; get a feel for the workplace environment. That will tell you where you need to work on your knowledge.
  • Check out the performance requirements. This is like learning a language, but it's a language you need to understand well. Performance measures are sometimes very broad, and sometimes very detailed. Target jobs where you can demonstrate high levels of performance without holes in important parts of the job.
  • Get training in all the required skills. This covers many weak spots and allows you to update your CV with an impressive display of current qualifications in all the right places.

You'll find you've reinvented yourself. You'll get a lot more interviews and much more interest from employers with your new skills.