Over 60 and job-seeking? Four strategies to help you remain competitive

Careers expert Emma Louise O’Brien gives advice on how mature job-seekers can find work in a transforming job market.

Women in a suit smiling at work


After recent research revealed that mature employees are more likely to struggle in the job market when the furlough scheme ends, Emma Louise O’Brien, Head of Career Coaching at Renovo, offers advice to mature job seekers to help them remain competitive in this space.

The research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Centre for Ageing Better, found that furloughed employees over 65 years of age were 40% more likely to be furloughed in April than employees in their 40s. Yet, prior to the pandemic, less than 1 in 3 of those unemployed in their late 50s would return to work within a year.

Emma Louise says: “It’s likely that the furlough scheme is just a sticking plaster, temporarily reducing redundancy and unemployment. However, when the plaster is ripped off in September, there’s the potential that many furloughed workers could lose their jobs. As we know that mature workers are more likely to be furloughed but also more likely to struggle finding work when they’re unemployed, it’s vital to ensure they’re prepared for a job market that is changing quite dramatically.

“Nowadays, ‘traditional’ long-term roles do not exist in the way they used to and the new job market is competitive and may be overwhelming. Mature job seekers must be more creative in evaluating the skill set they offer and update their job searching strategies to get noticed.”

Emma Louise suggests four ways that mature job seekers can remain competitive in a transforming job market:

1. Focus on experience rather than skills

Individuals must now be more proactive than ever in considering the value they bring to a business. While doing this, mature job seekers may overlook their past achievements and experiences and focus on the skills they haven’t got.

However, it’s important to view your wealth of experience as intrinsically valuable and ask yourself how this experience can provide solutions for others. In particular, as companies move away from the pandemic, long-term experience in areas such as compliance, transformation and business change are likely to be in high demand.

2. Use networks to assess market opportunities

Mature employees are more likely to have established networks within their areas of expertise and these should be utilised to assess gaps in the market and job opportunities.

Be open-minded about the opportunities at hand and don’t be too influenced by reports from the media about potentially negative situations in the job market. Instead, utilise contacts to hear industry opinions and use these as a yardstick to measure market potential.

3. Take a blended approach to job seeking

Professionals who have been employed in a role long term are less likely to be aware of current job searching trends.  It’s important to become familiar with these and develop a blended approach to job seeking. A blended approach may include on and offline searches, networking, a speculative approach as well as working with recruiters.

In regard to online searches, utilise LinkedIn to find job opportunities and continue building your network. Develop an All-Star LinkedIn profile so that your account is optimised for success and appears in relevant recruiter and employer search results.

Achieve this rating by filling out the necessary information on your profile, expanding on relevant experience and skills as well as recommendations about yourself and your work. Video stories are also a recently introduced feature that can enhance your account. Introducing yourself with a short clip on your profile acts as an elevator pitch to broadcast your expertise to potential employers.

4. Consider a portfolio career

Mature job seekers may also find it useful to move away from traditional career options and establish a portfolio career instead. A portfolio career is an agile, autonomous working style in which individuals can shape their own careers by combining multiple streams of income using a mix of employment, freelancing and volunteering. This approach can be particularly useful for mature job seekers as roles here often include consultancy or non-executive directorship positions which rely on longer-term, wide-ranging experience and expertise.

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