In spite of their wealth of life and work experience, many people in the 40-plus age group often face challenges getting a new job or changing careers.
Latest older worker employment statistics indicate that 3.25 million older men and women were economically inactive between August 2016 and December 2016, with more than 318 000 men and women aged above 50 not in employment (The Age and Employment Network).
Despite the existence of anti-discrimination labour laws and equal opportunity proclamations by almost every organisation worldwide, some labour experts maintain that older professionals still face challenges getting a new job or changing a career because of ageism.
The major issue, they say, is the stereotyping of older workers.
Both employers and 40-plus workers need to be aware of the different age stereotypes in order for the older professionals to be able to continue to make a contribution to the economy.
Seven major age stereotypes can be identified and for each a suggested response is given here to help older professionals. Make sure you understand what the interviewer is looking for.
1) Older people won’t work for a younger manager, or with a younger team.
Provide substantive evidence that, in your case, age is just a number.
2) Older people are often overqualified.
Use your experience to prove that no job is too small for you and that you’re in it for the long haul.
3) Older people lack energy.
Show that you have bundles of energy and enthusiasm.
For instance, do you play for the local social football club?
4) Older workers have health problems.
How many times have you been off sick?
None – also don’t forget to mention your workouts at the gym.
5) An older worker has money, so they don’t need the job.
Explain your motivation for applying for the role – for example, self-actualisation.
6) Older people are not mentally agile.
Thoroughly research the employer organisation and be up to speed when answering interview questions.
If you are an avid chess player, then this one should be no problem – just don’t get carried away and start going into detail about gambits, etc!
7) Older workers can’t deal with change.
Provide substantive evidence of your adaptability – for example different IT systems you have used at different companies.
If both employers and older professionals are able to manage these age stereotypes, the 40-plus age group will remain relevant in the labour market and continue to use their wealth of life and work experiences to make an invaluable contribution to the economy.
- This blog piece is partly based on an article that originally appeared in The Guardian.