I lost my job just before Covid and struggled to find a new one at a time when I had health issues. I decided after a lot of thought to take early retirement [I’m in my late 50s]. However, with the cost of living rising I am worried that I will need to go back to work at some point in the next years. I am worried too that the longer I leave it the harder it will be. How should I best prepare myself in the meantime so I don’t have a big hole in my cv? I am also worried about ageist attitudes if I have to start looking for a job in my 60s. I am a PA.
I hope your health issues are now sorted and that you’re mentally, physically and emotionally better.
In some respects “the longer you leave it, the harder it will be”. I often hear people worrying about having a gap on their CV between roles. However, you have a clear and honest reason to explain the gap, given you chose to take early retirement but due to the cost of living rising, you decided to return to work.
Reflect on what you’ve been doing over the last two years when you decided to take early retirement. Have you been volunteering? Have you learned any new skills? Think about how you can turn this gap on your CV into things you’ve learned/skills you’ve gained. If this doesn’t apply, you can add ‘Career Break’ on your CV within a set timeframe and can explain it further at interview. The good news is that PA, Executive Assistant and administration skills will always be needed whether in a face-to-face capacity or virtually.
Take a step back and ask yourself some questions. What do you want to do going forward? Would you like a local, part-time role or do you feel with the increased cost of living you in fact need a full-time role in a city?
I’d recommend either talking to an Independent Financial Advisor or working out how much money you need to earn going forward. Then think about what skills you’d like to be using. Is it a role you’ve done previously, for instance, the PA role – same skills, same sector; or would you like to do something slightly different using transferable skills to another sector? Brainstorm these ideas and see where you end up in your thinking. Think about when you’re at your best, what your strengths are and where you get the most energy from.
Make a list of your non-negotiable and ‘nice to haves’ in a role.
Then look at your CV focussing on your achievements over the years. Make sure you’re comfortable with talking about your ‘career break’. Be authentic and honest with yourself and others. You won’t be the only one who has chosen to return to work due to the increased cost of living.
Have a positive mindset. If you’re worried about ageist attitudes at interview, you’re unlikely to perform at your best. Think of the positives that you have over more junior employees. Here are some tips to help you stand out:
*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.10Eighty.co.uk.