How to get a job after 50

Rupert French, author of How to Get a Good Job after 50 (£12.95, Exisle Publishing) on sale March 30, shares his expertise.

Yes, there are employers who discriminate against older job seekers but they are a minority. A survey of 1,500 hiring managers carried out by multi-national recruitment firm Adecco found that 60% would prefer to hire someone aged 50 plus than someone younger than 30.

Why employers prize older workers

  • Older workers are usually more reliable and responsible than younger ones
  • They are generally more focussed than younger workers on achieving the organisation’s objectives
  • They have experienced crises in the past and can usually mentor younger workers in coping with them
  • They take less sick days than younger workers – UK research showed that more than half of workers aged 55 plus had not had a sick day in the past 12 months
  • They are likely to remain with the same employer for longer. A Queensland government report showed that workers aged 45+ tended to stay 2.4 times as long as those aged under 35.

So be confident that you can go out and get the sort of job you want. Here are some tips to give you the greatest likelihood of being successful in your job search:

1. Develop the right attitude

Sir Richard Branson has been quoted as saying: "At Virgin, we hire for attitude; if they’ve got the right attitude, we can give them the skills. If they’ve got the wrong attitude, it doesn’t matter how skilful they are, they will be a liability". These may not be his exact words but they do express his philosophy.

Recent research carried out in the USA has shown that job seekers who are proactive in the job search are almost six times more likely to get a job than those who are not. Your attitude matters. It is arguably the most important ingredient in the recipe for job search success.

Employers are looking for motivated people, those with a can-do attitude, job seekers who feel in control of their lives and who set goals and work steadfastly to achieve them.

2. Consider yourself CEO of Yourself plc

One sure way to be pro-active is to consider yourself to be self-employed, CEO of Yourself plc, a micro-business currently without ‘clients’ (employers).

Then, as the chief sales rep, work 9-5, Mon-Fri, to identify your prospects and market your services to them.

3.  Focus on just two job leads at any one time

Like successful businesses, don’t try to ‘sell’ to every possible client; identify a niche market and focus on that. Don’t send off applications to every possible job you come across. Concentrate on just two job leads at a time.

It may seem counter-intuitive but, apart from the applications for the two selected jobs, the more applications you send off, the less likely you are to find suitable employment. Obviously if the selected jobs don’t work out, find other possibilities to take their place but never work on more than two at a time.

Job search is a bit like the Olympic Games except that there are usually no silver and bronze medals; you’ve got to go for gold. And to do that, you have to be better prepared than any other job seekers going after the same position.

If another job seeker is spending half her time preparing an application for a job that you want, but you are also sending off applications for ten other positions, she will be able to put in five times as much time into her application as you and, as a result, she is far more likely than you are to win the position.

4.  Job search is a full-time job

As CEO of your micro-enterprise, when do you want your chief sales rep to be out there? It’s obvious; 9-5, Monday-Friday. Job search is as full time as you can afford to make it. A big part of successful marketing is market research. In the same way, thorough research is essential to job search success.

Ideally you want to research the organisation and the position until you can start planning your first few weeks in the job. This is a big ask but it makes a huge difference.

Detailed knowledge of the organisation and the position allows you to envisage yourself being successful in it and this boosts confidence significantly. It also allows you to answer interview questions almost as if you were in the job already.

5. Establish an honorary ‘board’ for your micro-enterprise

Job search can be a lonely and dispiriting process and maintenance of a positive attitude is essential. Consider, therefore, establishing a small, close-knit group of people, perhaps family and close friends, to support you. Appoint them to be honorary members of the ‘board’ of your micro-enterprise.

Meet with some or all of them regularly, keep them up to date with your progress and ask for their advice. They will give you a lot of encouragement and this will help you maintain that positive, proactive, can-do attitude.

Yes, there are lots of other things you need to do in order to maximise the likelihood of getting that job, such as writing a CV that grabs the employer’s interest within the first few lines, but maintaining a good attitude is paramount.

  • Like this? Read our top tips on how to finance  a business at 50-plus here and if you're interested in starting a franchise, find out more here!