NOWW masterclass shares job-seeking tips for older workers held a jobseekers’ advice session for National Older Workers Week on Tuesday, bringing together career coaches and managers who answered questions from the audience.

Image of a cv on a tablet indicating how to avoid age discrimination held a jobseekers’ masterclass for National Older Workers Week on Tuesday, bringing together career coaches and managers who answered questions from the audience.

The event, titled “Get the job you want: a masterclass”, was attended by over 140 people and was sponsored by David Lloyd Clubs. The session covered topics including CVs, interview preparation, LinkedIn networking, and how to talk about previous career breaks. 

Long careers – but concise CVs

Martin Garrity, a 66-year-old career coach who runs Your Career Reimagined, shared tips on how to put together a CV as an older worker. For workers who have careers spanning decades, and who have often taken breaks along the way, it can seem impossible to sum everything up on two sides of paper. 

“Don’t just have one – have many,” Garrity said of CVs. He advised jobseekers to have a main “template CV” and then to create a tailored version for each job they apply for, which contained things relevant to that particular job. 

Garrity stressed that a CV should not exceed two sides of A4 paper in size 12 font. He explained that recruiters are often only interested in the last 5-10 years of a person’s career; for roles before this period, jobseekers should just list their job titles and employment dates.

Garrity also encouraged audience members to be honest about career breaks – many people at the masterclass were nervous about how employers view such gaps. He said career gaps were a normal part of life, with many workers taking time away from work to raise a family, care for a partner or relative, manage their own health issues, or spend time volunteering. 

He said jobseekers should remember that they had continued to learn new things and overcome obstacles during these periods – they just needed to show employers that. “There are still things that you’ve done during that time,” he said. “Buried in there are stories…that demonstrate your capabilities.” 

Lay your clothes out the night before

Liz Sebag-Montefiore, director of 10Eighty, a career and talent management consultancy, shared tips on job interviews. She encouraged candidates to prepare well and be highly organised.

Sebag-Montefiore advised candidates to research a company thoroughly prior to an interview, including looking up the interviewers on Linkedin and reading up about the company on their own website and review sites like Glassdoor. She also encouraged people to think about whether they knew anyone at the company via their networks, so they could get some insights and advice from an insider.

Sebag-Montefiore also suggested practising answers to key interview questions, such as “Why are you the right person for this job?” Ideally candidates should be able to give an answer no longer than 60 seconds, and they could then ask interviewers if they would like to hear more details. In terms of practicalities, she said it was good to do a practice journey to the office for an in-person interview, do a practice-run with your tech for an online interview, and plan your outfit in advance. 

“Putting your clothes out the night before will help a lot,” she said – and this seemed like a fitting metaphor for being prepared in general. 

Looking for the right behaviours, not qualifications

Karen Todd and Stuart Cashmore from David Lloyd Clubs rounded off the session by talking about why their company is passionate about hiring older workers. The company has older workers in roles from personal trainers to receptionists, and it is often able to offer flexible or part-time hours.

Todd, David Lloyd Clubs’ resourcing and development manager, explained that many of their clubs’ members are from older age groups and they wanted to see age diversity amongst the staff. She  also explained that the company was often happy to train people on the job.

Cashmore, personal training product development manager, said the company hired people based on their characteristics and behaviours, not simply their qualifications. “We would much rather get the right person, someone who’s got the right behaviours to build relationships with our members, and then train them,” he said.


Other issues that came up in the chat during the session included how to cover relevant less recent experience in cvs and neurodiversity.  Garrity said one way of including relevant experience from a long time ago would be to list the role in achievements rather than responsibilities and to who in a supporting statement how that knowledge has been kept up-to-date in the interim. On dyslexia, he said there was no requirement to disclose at selection stage, but once the job is secured it is a good idea to make it known so reasonable adjustments can be made.

Sebag-Montefiore advised a single parent with Asperger’s who wanted to know that the ideal job would be that it comes back to her career and personal values, what motivates her and the skills that she loves using, that she is good at and that she would like to develop. “Then brainstorming jobs that suit what’s important to you,” she stated.

She added that if people are interested in Neurodiverse Tech recruitment, they could contact Marc Crawley at Diversita is an organisation that has a passion and mission to advise and empower Neurodivergent Technology professionals in seeking the right career opportunities.

The experts were also asked about convictions. Garrity said the best thing was to be honest and show what has been learned and that you have changed.

Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters during National Older Workers Week; Phoenix Group, Aggregate Industries, David Lloyd Clubs, City & Guilds, Zurich, Allen & Overy, NHS Professionals, McDonald’s, Institute of Employability Professionals and the Centre for Ageing Better. We will be publishing more tips from Liz Sebag-Montefiore on LinkedIn next week.

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