Listen to Coronavirus Patient Zero
Career Change Over 40
As populations in the developed world are growing older and many countries are experiencing a crisis in the pension system, we are facing the prospect of having to work past the usual retirement age. Yet, at the same time, older people are not always welcomed back into the work force. Many also have difficulty finding a new job if they have an unbroken track record and are simply looking for a change in career after the age of 40. There are a number of steps you can take to maximize your chances of getting a job, despite negative views regarding age on the part of some employers. When writing your CV or résumé, be sure to target it for the job in question. You can do this by highlighting all the skills and experience which are needed for the job and then proving that you have got them.
It is not necessary to put personal information on your CV – in many countries it is illegal to ask about age and this will also become law in the UK in October of this year. You should either leave out your date of birth completely or put it at the end. Do not mention your marital status or the number of children you have or their ages. This is not relevant to the job! The fact that you are older means that you have valuable experience in many areas and you need to make good use of this in your application. Don’t worry if you are returning to work after bringing up children – soft skills, such as communication, time management and the ability to meet deadlines are crucial in the workplace today and all of those will be skills you have developed as a parent.
So take a good look at all the skills you have acquired both at work and in other areas of life and make a list. You’ll be surprised to see how many you have and how many of them are transferable. If you find your particular career favours youth, consider the possibility of self-employment. Could you use your existing skills as a freelance? If you aren’t up to date with computer packages, get your kids to teach you or find out about local classes, which are sometimes free. If there have been changes in your particular industry, look into refresher courses. Many people make the mistake of assuming that they will get job satisfaction in one place, but this is the exception rather than the rule. So make a list of all the skills you’d like to use (or learn) at work and a list of the tasks which give you job satisfaction. Then consider the possibility of becoming a portfolio worker, that is, someone who has more than one occupation. You might, for example, work as a freelance in your existing career for two or three days a week and set up a small business doing something completely different during the rest of the week. Or you might write about, teach or run workshops in one of the skills you have developed.
This doesn’t have to be work-related – it could be a hobby you’ve been interested in for years, it could be an aspect of parenting or coping with a health issue. Look at everything you’ve done in your life so far and you’ll find that there are several areas in which you are an expert. If you are prepared to look beyond the conventional 9-5 job, you will find that there are many opportunities open to you, regardless of your age. © Waller Jamison 2006.