5 tips for older workers looking for work
A new generation of retirees is heading back to work. Here’s some advice on how to snag one of those encore jobs
Encore! Encore! One more time.
That’s what many retired Canadians want to do: Go back to work, try something new, perhaps with fewer hours and less pay, but find a way to keep active, stay engaged and get paid for it.
Longevity is rising, we’re healthier and so the traditional notion of retirement has faded. Some want to work because they have to and others because they want to.
But if our needs are changing, our employers aren’t keeping up with the times, says Adina Lebo, chair of the downtown Toronto chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP). Attitudes in the workplace are geared to forcing older workers out of full-time work and few employers have mechanisms to offer a transition to part-time work.
“The workforce is built to push people out at 65,” says Lebo, who joined CARP four years ago after a 30-year career in the film and TV industry. “While people are looking for a continuation of their career, or a way to apply their skills in a new area, the doors are often closed.”
CARP sponsored a job fair in Toronto last year to link employers with 50+ candidates. There was plenty of interest from companies with franchising and sales opportunities. The former requires an investment on your part and the latter uses your networks to sell products or services.
“There’s no ageism in sales,” says Lebo. “It’s on commission, so there’s no risk to the employer. They use you and your community to sell, so that was wide open.”
There are jobs out there for older works, but competition is stiff. For many, the first step is dusting off their resumes and polishing rusty interview skills.
Marie Bountrogianni, a former Ontario cabinet minister and currently Dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, has some advice. Here are her five top job hunting tips for older workers.
Three things to avoid in an interview:
Talking about your age: “This is always tricky,” says Bountrogianni, who has a Ph.D. in education and was chief psychologist for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board before entering politics.
“Employers are not allowed to ask about your age, but they often hint at it. Talk around your age in constructive ways. [For example,] you can indicate that because you no longer have little children you have a lot of flexibility around scheduling.
Tipping your tech hand: “Be careful. Don’t just say you use Facebook and Twitter. Show how you have used social media to increase sales, or promote an event, so they won’t think you are on it all the time.”
Don’t say, I’m ready for a change: “While it may be very true, it sounds like you are bored, and have grown stale in your current job,” Bountrogiann says.
Two ways to spruce up your resume:
Age proof it: Don’t go back to the beginning of your career. Choose the experiences that relate to the job you are applying for. Do not put in specific dates for jobs or schooling.
Show what you have done: Use a functional, rather than chronological resume, so that you can bundle your experiences without dating them and relate skills to the job advertised.
Bountrogianni says employers want to know you’re not planning to coast at their expense.
They also want to know you are still current, so she advises taking courses in your field of interest and keeping up to date. Always have questions in an interview, because employers want you to be interested in them and about their job.
Bountrogianni is Ontario’s representative on Skills Connect Inc., a national non-profit organization founded by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in 2010. It receives government funding and owns ThirdQuarter, a national employment recruiter for people aged 45 and over. More agencies are working with older adults, including The Challenge Factory, which has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.
The Chang School offers programs of interest to 50+ workers. Wednesday, Bountrogianni is hosting a free breakfast between 8:30 and 10:30 as part of a panel discussion on aging in the workforce. It is being held at Heaslip House, 7th Floor, 297 Victoria Street.
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