With more over-65s staying in the workplace, how can young people stay competitive in the recruitment game?
Let’s dispel some myths. Its men – not women – who are most likely to experience age discrimination at work.
And you don’t actually have to be that old to be a victim.
Nearly four in ten say that age has been a factor preventing them from advancing in their career since turning 40. This drops to just a quarter of women.
From then on, (whatever your gender) things only get worse. You are most likely to experience age discrimination aged 51 according to the Hiscox 2019 Ageism in the Workplace Study.
So, some of us are resorting to desperate measures to stay young particularly anti-aging procedures from dermatologists. ever heard the expression, “If you want to get ahead, get Botox”?
Well, in the USA which naturally (or maybe not so naturally) leads the way, the number of injectable filler procedures on men has risen by 99 per cent since 2000 with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons saying cosmetic procedures are up 29 per cent over the same period.
So, what will you do when you’re 65?
If ageism is a problem in your 40s and 50s, imagine how damaging it could be to your carer when you hit your 60s.
Whatever you think of your job today, can you really imagine doing it when you are heading for 70 – or even older?
The state retirement age will rise to 67 from 2028 and then to 68 and possibly 70. So most of us will have to keep working for many years to come.
But if it is hard to get ahead in your 40s and 50s, who is going to employ you when you are in your seventh decade?
Older Jobseekers will be Everywhere
By 2050, one in four people in the UK will be over 65 (it’s currently around one in five) according to recent forecasts from the Office for National Statistics.
That’s an extra 8.2 million older people – a population the size of London – and many of them will be wanting to work.
The next decade or so will see people who were born too late to benefit from generous ‘gold plated’ final salary pensions reaching retirement. Without a decent retirement income they may have no option but to keep in work. Also many want to keep working – feeling they are too young to spend the next few decades playing golf and pottering around in the garden.
More than half of those age 65 plus say they are ‘not ready to retire’ according to insurer Aviva.
That means there will be plenty of them looking for a job – and if you are one of them, how can you compete?
Plan Ahead and Play to your Strengths
What do more mature employees have to offer compared to younger ones? Well, topping the list are invaluable skills, experience and knowledge that they can share with colleagues.
You might believe keeping these to yourself, will protect you – but most employers don’t value these attributes (yet). So, build up a reputation for mentoring and developing younger colleagues.
Continually Up-skill to Remain Relevant
Also address the misconceptions about older workers – they have out-of-date skills, struggle with the latest technology and find it difficult to learn something new.
Some of these myths are based on truths. Four in ten Baby Boomers (born between ‘46 and ‘64) in the UK feel they ‘don’t have the skills needed to win a new job’ according to a Docebo survey with around half feeling younger employers had better tech skills.
Mature workers might be reluctant to demand extra training – not surprisingly. It effectively tells your employer your skills are not up to scratch. So stick to online learning tutorials (preferably ones which lead to recognised qualifications that you can put on your CV). Search coursera.org, udemy.com, futurelearn.com and look at courses offered by professional organisations.
De-Age Your CV – It’s Easy
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to pay for fillers, veneered teeth or spend every waking hour in the gym in a bid to defy age.
One of the biggest challenges once you hit 40 is finding a new job. As increasing numbers of applications are now made online, it is a computer algorithm (rather than a real person) who decides whether you are up for the job. And it’s much easier to fool a computer than an eagle-eyed HR professional who can spot the crow’s feet around your eyes, the sagging jowls and the incongruously youthful business suit.
Also, with candidate shortages, you are increasingly likely to be approached for a new job, rather than applying. So make yourself as appear as employable as possible in the virtual world. You can then work on your real-world appearance when it comes to the interview.
So get rid of:
- Listing what you did in your first job and early 20s (unless you are in your early 20s!). A longer career history is a tell-tale sign that you’ve been around for quite a long time.
- Dates – unless they are more recent. So no need to write the dates you were at school or university.
- Your age – amazingly (even though this is not required for most jobs) some CVs still feature a date of birth. Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of age, so they are not allowed to even ask! Don’t tell them.
- O Levels and any other qualification that no longer exists – today, it’s GCSE equivalents that count.
Then add in:
- Every single quality required on the job advert – if a computer algorithm is searching your CV or application letter, you want it to recognise you have all the skills required. If you don’t quite have the skills listed, try to find a way of including them. For example, “Leadership experience or experience managing a team” could relate to managing a project (with your colleagues) even if your job title is not team manager.
- Proficiency in the latest software and technology – even if it is not a requirement. It will portray you as “tech savvy” rather than a dinosaur.
- Tell an outright lie – you can fool technology some of the time, but organisations do check qualifications, references etc. So make sure your social media profile, particularly LinkedIn, matches your CV.