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  • Nigel Nolan

The Challenge for Workers Over 50

Harder to secure a new job

In general, the average time it takes to find a new job in Singapore is three months – unless you are over fifty years of age that is, then it takes a lot longer. At 50 years old and above, there are fewer calls for interview per number of resumes submitted, and the interviews they do get are more focused on what they don’t have rather than what they can do. Frequently too the salary on offer is closer to that early career candidates with little experience could expect. When employers state that they ‘value’ the experience of older workers, often they don’t mean a monetary value!

A greater danger of retrenchment

Older workers generally earn a higher salary than younger people not only because of their experience, but because they have simply been in that company or that position for a longer time. They have received more increments over time and thus receive a higher salary. While this is generally good for the older worker, it unfortunately is a threat to their career. When companies plan to downsize, especially when they do so to reduce costs or to “protect future profitability”, those in greatest danger of retrenchment are the older workers on higher salaries.

While these challenges and threats definitely exist for older workers, all is not doom and gloom! With a little planning, there are actions that older workers can take to make their job search easier or reduce the likelihood of being selected for ‘outplacement’ – a sanitised way of talking about retrenching workers!

Staying up-to-date

Many older workers are perceived to be out-of-date in regard to the latest technologies and methods. In some cases this is true where especially new technology has surpassed their once-prized expertise. Sometimes the new technology itself replaces an older worker’s job, but more often, because they are so busy doing their job as they always have, they haven’t managed to stay up-to-date with new ways of working that seemed to have crept in unnoticed.

All workers, irrespective of their job, career, profession or industry, and especially those in their 40’s and 50’s, need to ensure that they stay abreast of developments in their field. Read relevant trade magazines, either hard-copy or online; follow LinkedIn groups pertinent to your job area and industry; attend appropriate trade shows or conferences; and above all, make sure you attend up-skilling training workshops provided by your employer or outside bodies.

Staying up-to-date reduces your chances of being made redundant, and for job seekers, being up-to-date shortens the time it takes to find a new job.

Show them what you’ve got!

The catchphrase in job hunting is that a focused resume gets you an interview, and an effective interview gets you the job! This is especially important for older workers. A generic resume is unlikely to get anyone an interview – resumes must be focused and impactful to be effective. Older workers who are seeking a new job must ensure that their resume is focused on the main requirements of the specific job they are chasing.

Bear in mind that a resume is not simply about you, it is about what you can do for a particular employer. This is a different mindset than writing about yourself in your resume – what you need to write about is what you can do for that employer. Research the requirements for the job and make it abundantly clear that you have the experience and skills needed to do that job excellently. And at interview, you must be proactive in demonstrating that you meet the main requirements and show how your greater experience adds value.

When in a job, make sure you possess the current requirements of the job to reduce the chance of retrenchment

Older workers in a job also need to research the current key requirements for doing the job well – research these requirements as if you were about to apply for your own job – what would your employer look for in candidates if your job was vacant? Then map yourself against these requirements – any gaps are your urgent development requirements! Make sure to ‘plug these gaps’ by attending a relevant training course or getting the necessary experience.


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