How to remain employable as you get older

What happens after the baby years? Find out why our economies need mature workers, and read five ways you can remain employable as you get older.

We’re familiar with battling discrimination against mothers in the workplace. But what about older workers? And more importantly, what can we do to ensure we remain as employable as possible, whatever our age, and continue to pursue a career we enjoy?

Career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads Jane Jackson, explains why our economies need ‘mature’ workers, the barriers that may be holding them back, and some simple things we can all do to remain employable as we get older.

Wiling (and able) to work

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently released the results of a detailed inquiry into the challenges older Australians face in the workplace.

The Willing to Work report provides a number of recommendations to address employment discrimination and drive the increase in the number of mature age Australians in the labour force.

And there’s good reason to encourage ‘older’ workers to continue their careers. According to AHRC research, if just 5% more people over the age of 55 had jobs, Australia’s economy would be worth AU$48 billion more.

It’s a fact that the labour market doesn’t appear to have grasped yet – at the beginning of 2016 there were 80,000 unemployed Australians over the age of 55. That’s 12% more than 2015.

The AHRC research also found that 60% of people who felt discriminated against because of their age, also experienced:

  • Self esteem issues.
  • Mental health issues.
  • Stress.
  • A negative effect on their family.
  • Having to retire early when they didn’t want to.
  • Not feeling a part of the community.
  • Financial hardships.

What’s holding back older workers?

So why do older workers find it so hard to continue their careers? The challenges they face are:

  • Finding a job.
  • Keeping a job.
  • Coming back to the workforce after taking a break.

Typical barriers that mature workers may experience are:

  • Having out of date job search skills.
  • Having to gain new skills to keep up with changing technology and methodology.
  • Health problems.

Five things you can do to remain employable

What can you to to stay employable, and to overcome the stigma of being ‘too old’? Here are five suggestions.

1) Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Fitness and good health help you to project energy and vitality, which in turn helps you to stay motivated and productive while looking for a job and when you’re employed.

2) Adopt a positive attitude

A positive attitude towards the job search process is essential, whatever age. And indeed, there are challenges to securing employment however old you are.

If you believe that age is an issue, it WILL be one. However, if you remain open, willing to learn and adapt to changing circumstances, your chances of success will be greater.

3) Stay up to date with relevant technology

Staying current with technology and methodology is essential to being employable. Employers hire staff to fulfill a need – a job needs to get done accurately and in a timely manner. So being current and qualified removes a huge barrier to employment.

4) Understand the latest job search methods

The way employers find employees has changed rapidly the past decade. The Saturday or local newspapers are no longer the only place to look for job ads.

Instead use online job boards, register with recruitment companies that specialise in your area of interest and capability, and create a powerful LinkedIn profile to ensure that you can be found by hiring managers and recruitment professionals.

A survey by JobVite found that 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, but only 36% of job seekers actively use LinkedIn for their job search.

5) Leverage the power of networks

John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business, says that between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.

So expand your network of connections in the area of employment you want to enter. Impress people with your level of commitment to finding a job, your capability, attitude, professionalism, and willingness to learn and to share your relevant expertise, and make it easy for them to recommend you. This gives you a foot in the door for a potentially rewarding conversation.

Mature workers have so much to offer

It’s easy to get caught up in a culture of youth, one that celebrates youth and energy above experience and wisdom. But mature workers also have much to offer, and a successful economy needs a balance of both.

So don’t dismiss yourself as you get older, or think you need to lower your expectations. Believe you still have much to offer (and possibly even more than when you were younger), arm yourself with the knowledge and strategies that will help, and go out and find a job you love with confidence.

Need more job hunting strategies?

You’ll find plenty of practical job hunting tips, whatever your age, in these articles:

Jane Jackson is a career management coach and author of Amazon bestseller Navigating Career Crossroads. Her book takes you through all the essential steps to not only survive but THRIVE when changing direction.