COTA Victoria has been running a project supporting people over 50 to secure employment. People over 50 may find themselves looking for a job because they are getting back into the workforce, changing careers or trying to increase their hours of work.
Identifying your relevant skills
Many mature job seekers feel uncertain about how their previous work experience or skills can translate into the modern workforce. It’s important to identify your ‘soft’ or transferable skills. Soft skills aren’t always work-related: they might be skills that you’ve gained through your lived experience.
Soft skills include things like:
- emotional intelligence – which means knowing yourself and managing your own emotions
- a collaborative or ‘team player’ approach – meaning an ability to work with others and consider different perspectives
- a growth mindset – which can mean being open to feedback and wanting to improve
- being adaptable – experience in different industries, as well as in life, makes you very good at adapting
- a strong work ethic – this might come from a desire to stay engaged in your work.
Learning new skills
One of the biggest challenges for older people looking to start a new career can be utilising the technology required. Computers and technology are a huge part of everything we do now, from banking and paying bills to keeping in touch with family. It can be nerve wracking to even start the application process. However, it is worth taking the time to develop IT skills, as they will help you in your personal as well as your professional life. Once you’ve taken some time to learn the basics, you’ll soon find your way around.
Advice for mature age job seekers
We interviewed Sandy Simmons, a recent mature aged jobseeker, asking what advice she has for others in the same boat.
What are you up to these days?
I am resurrecting my business in the health industry and getting it all online.
I gained myself some extra employment a couple of years ago at a winery.
You got the job, even though you hadn’t worked at a winery before. How did you demonstrate your transferable skills?
I explained that I have always loved sparkling wine and that I frequented the winery. I put myself forward, saying how I would love to work there.
It’s really about putting yourself forward, so that people can get to know you.
Do you think looking for work when you are over 50 is more challenging?
Yes. There’s a perception that ‘I’m not valuable. I’m not up with the latest.’ In that way it becomes more difficult.
I always say, ‘Give it a go.’
What does having work mean for you?
Work for me means I keep occupied. I don’t like sitting idle. I always find something to do.
I moved into health because I have had family members with health problems, and I decided to be as healthy as I possibly could. I built up my own business. It’s slow. Sometimes I did things for free, so that people could get to know me, such as free talks.
What has changed for you with your work in recent times?
I have been used to seeing people in person in a clinic situation and now everything is online. I’ve had to take on all that IT stuff. That’s challenging.
What advice to you have for other mature job seekers?
If you’ve got something to share – and all seniors do because we’ve got life experience – you don’t have to have qualifications. Think outside the box and give it a go. The hardest part is getting over the hurdle of thinking ‘This is how I do things. How can I do anything different?’
Don’t limit yourself to what you think you can do. Just trawl the internet and see what else there is. Sometimes it could be something you love and are interested in. It could be a hobby.
Think of the things you love. A friend loved her records and started playing them and being a DJ and set up a group online and her knowledge interested people.
So, take the things that you love and share them.
Take that plunge!
Sandy’s business is https://simplybetterhealth.com.au/