How To Get Back In The Job Market Over 50

How To Get Back In The Job Market Over 50
Photo by Marcus Aurelius:

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently urged retired individuals aged 50 and above to return to the workforce to help revive the economy.

He unveiled plans for “returnerships” and skills boot camps, as well as abolishing the lifetime tax-free limit for pensions savings. The government promises to make it worthwhile for anyone looking to get back to work.

While we await further details, recruiters and charities have provided tips for those seeking to return to work.

Focus on ability, not age: Ageism is still prevalent despite legislation to prevent age discrimination, says James Reed, the CEO of recruitment firm Reed.

He advises job seekers to shift the focus away from their age and highlight their abilities instead. While it’s not necessary to lie about your age, omitting dates in the section listing education or removing experience dating back more than 10 years from the CV can help.

Employers can ask for your date of birth, but they should keep this separate from the application.

Be open about any relevant health concerns: If health is the reason for leaving your previous job, Petra Tagg, the director at Manpower, says it’s up to you to decide how much information you want to share.

There’s no need to disclose a history of illness that won’t affect your ability to perform duties. Laura Reilly, the director at Taurus HR, advises keeping the reasons for leaving employment light and positive.

Yvonne Smyth from recruitment firm Hays suggests disclosing health information during a workplace adjustment assessment or form, which usually happens later in the interview process.

Update your skills: Older workers often face questions regarding digital literacy and skills. For that reason, James Reed advises polishing skills in areas valued by employers, such as using news alerts to keep up with developments in a given field.

Taking voluntary opportunities can also help boost skills. Stuart Lewis, the CEO of Rest Less, suggests making it clear in your application that you’re interested in learning new skills and taking on new challenges.

Don’t be nervous about asking to work flexibly: Some older individuals may prefer part-time work due to energy levels or caring responsibilities.

Employers may expect flexible working, and offering it helps retain older workers. The Acas website has guidance on flexible working requests.

Reinvent yourself: James Reed advises older job seekers to consider gaining new qualifications, which demonstrate their ability to adapt and learn new skills or start a new career.

Apprenticeships aren’t just for the young; older workers and career-switchers can do them too. Clare McCartney from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests considering applying for jobs in different industries that require transferable skills.

Don’t undersell yourself: Petra Tagg advises older workers not to undervalue themselves. The breadth of experience they bring can be an advantage.

Pulling out all the things you can do from a job description and giving real examples can help build awareness and confidence in yourself and your worth.


  • Stephen

    Stephen is now retired. He spent 25 years in community welfare and is one of the co-founders of life over 50. He has a keen interest in everything concerning this special age group.....and makes valuable contributions to the site. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, cycling and gardening. Also a keen jazz music lover!

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