Common questions from older jobseekers

Whether it is how to address careers gaps or whether to attach a covering letter, looks at the common questions of older jobseekers.

Image of a cv on a tablet indicating how to avoid age discrimination’s National Older Workers’ Week event for candidates addressed many of the questions that older jobseekers struggle with, from how to keep up to date with digital skills and whether you should disguise your age in your cv to not knowing where to focus your search.

We will be publish a report on the event next week, but there were some common questions outstanding at the end of the popular event which we answer below.

Q: How do I apply for a job with no recent references?

Careers expert John Lees, author of ‘How to Get A Job You Love’, says:  The most useful referees can say something about your experience, skills and working style. If you have had a career break, an employer won’t expect anything from a recent employer. You don’t need to apologise for this – be upfront about it and ask what the employer would like you to do. An employer interested in hiring you may choose to manage without references.

If they are required, think creatively. You might be able to re-connect with people who can write about your previous jobs – or people who can say something about more recent voluntary commitments or learning experiences. Sometimes a
personal reference is useful to confirm you’re a person who shows commitment and stability. More here.

Q: How do you find a flexible job? Our site specialises in flexible roles and it is worth seeking out similar sites where employers who advertise are open to flexible working so you don’t have to worry about bringing it up. You can subscribe free here.

Q: Is careers advice available to people in their 50’s and where can I find it? The Government has the National Careers Service website – It is not specifically tailored to over 50s, but there are coaches out there who can help, such as John Lees and Lorna Valcin, both of whom took part in our National Older Workers’ Week panel event, and provides careers advice, such as on cv presentation and interview technique. Just search the site.

Q: Is it a good idea to attach a cover letter to a CV to provide information on why your suited to a particular role?

Emma Alkirwi, CV Guru, says: With the job market becoming more and more competitive, standing out from other applicants has never been as tough. If a recruiter is looking through numerous applicants and someone has taken the time to personalise a cover letter to them and inform them of their suitability of course this will make you stand out. This demonstrates dedication and commitment while allowing you to explain why you wish to apply for the position. It is also an opportunity to highlight your transferable skills if you are making a career change. These are things you just won’t put into a CV or, if you do, it would look out of place! See more advice here.

Q: How do I present a gap in my CV?

Emma Alkirwi says: If you’ve got a career gap there is no point in ignoring it.

People want to know what you have been doing in that time, particularly as well, if you are going to be working for a financial institution, they’re going to have to run checks so that they can account for what you’ve been doing during that time. So if you just if you are on a career break, if you are raising a family or you are caring for somebody, note that down in your CV, it will not go against you, but hiding away from it, it will go against you.

Because if recruiters are really busy, they’re seeing big career gaps, they won’t want to phone you and find out why they just want to see it written down. So make sure that you are explaining the career gap again, just with the dates, career break, bringing up a family or caring for a person. More advice on career gaps here.

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