5 Essential Job Search Tips for Over-50s That Will Make You Stand Out
Feb 23, 2023 - CV & Interview Advice, Recruitment Room
It has been well documented that, recently, the UK is in the midst of a talent shortage. Last month the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, went as far as to offer a war cry of "Britain Needs You" to the over-50s population - many of whom had left employment due to the pandemic - to return to the workforce and bolster plans for economic growth.
This invitation from the Government is great, but when over one-third of job-seekers aged 50 to 69 said they felt at a disadvantage when applying for jobs due to their age, it shows that there are still steps that can be taken to make that invitation more… inviting.
To help with navigating the ever-changing employment market, here are some practical hints and tips you can start today to get ahead of the curve and stay below the 4-month average it takes to find and land the right job.
1. Make Your CV More Searchable
Perhaps the most obvious tip, but also the most daunting: the dreaded CV update. But it doesn’t need to be so bad.
With most companies, firms, and recruitment agencies searching for CVs online, they’ll use industry, sector, and keywords to narrow their search and find the right job-seekers for the role.
This means that making your CV searchable with keywords is critical.
LinkedIn has some great advice on making your CV easier to find. This can be broken down into:
- Keep it short but sweet - keep anything included relevant, concise, and easy-to-read at a glance
- Think about dates that you include - this is one method to prevent unconscious bias from playing against you.
- Include the dates for your employment experience and professional qualifications, such as the AAT or the ATT
- Exclude the dates of your education (and don’t include any information related to your O-Levels / GCSEs either).
- Include keywords - you want words that are related to your field, skills, and industry and sector experience.
- Think about words and phrases used in the job description for your ideal role, as well as some of your daily tasks.
- Make sure to consider getting specific and alternate phrasing that’s associated with your profession: e.g. if you work in tax technology, try to include similar other relevant keywords or phrases, like “taxology”, “taxologist”, “tax transformation”, “process and improvement”, “automation”, “migration”, “tax configuration” etc.
- If you want a role in the same industry, include it in your profile: e.g. if you’re passionate about renewable energy, then include “renewable energy” (as well as “wind”, “solar”, etc.).
- If you need more advice on what keywords to consider using, reach out to one of our specialist consultants.
- Upload your CV onto online job boards - it may sound obvious, but this ensures you can be found. Some of the widely used ones are:
- CV Library
- LinkedIn (See Below)
This will help companies and recruiters easily find your CV for relevant roles. As one added tip, check your spelling and grammar. A great tool we use ourselves is Grammarly to double-check that spellcheck hasn’t missed anything, but you can also have friends and family read through your CV.
2. Create/Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has a dual purpose - part social media, part job board - and, as noted by Forbes, 77% of employers are using social media to recruit. So if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re missing out on a massive pool of potential roles.
If you’re new to LinkedIn, here are some tips to get you started:
- Keep your profile picture work-casual - Since it’s social media, there’s no need to get a professional headshot. But it’s still semi-professional so nothing too casual either - it should be a relaxed profile shot of your head and shoulders, and the general recommendation is a plain background.
- Have a tagline that is approachable - LinkedIn is social media at the end of the day, so there’s more flexibility in how you present yourself. It helps to indicate your current job in your tagline too. Jobscan has some helpful examples to perfect your tagline.
- Use Keywords - Similar to your CV, adding keywords to your skills section and including them in your role descriptions will help you show up in the right searches. Make sure to include any IT systems or software you use at work, like Sage or Clio.
- Avoid the generic - “teamwork”, “leadership”, and “communication” that appear in almost every profile, but don’t need to, take up space and are often assumed. You’ll want to use your profile to show what’s unique about you.
- Start building your network - LinkedIn’s equivalent to “Friends” is “Connections”. You’ll want to connect with current and former colleagues as a good starting point, and then move on to people in relevant positions at companies you may want to work at. It can also help to connect with 2nd-degree connections (connections of your connections).
- Follow companies that you’d like to work for - you’ll be able to see when they post roles on LinkedIn and keep up to date with their news.
But this is just a starting point. LinkedIn has lots of great tips for building your profile.
3. Consider Upskilling
It’s important to recognise areas where you may be weaker. There are many options you can take with upskilling, from webinars to CPD qualifications to full-on Master’s degrees.
At Harvey John, we’re passionate about promoting continuous learning. We’ve collected some of the best options to demonstrate your ability to learn new skills and develop existing ones:
- Industry Relevant Webinars - a lot of companies now offer webinars from industry experts to help share the knowledge. Whether it’s Tax Insider or The Association of Corporate Treasurers, there are plenty of options. As a bonus, a lot of the webinars are uploaded to YouTube, so a quick search might find you a lot of information.
- OpenLearn - the Open University’s collection of free courses; their wide range of topics means you’re sure to find something relevant.
- CPD Courses - whether you’re looking to brush up on your medical knowledge for a clinical negligence solicitor role or get a headstart on the training in Xero for an accounting job, CPD courses are a great way to upskill and fill any knowledge gaps.
- Industry-Specific Qualifications - this might be a STEP qualification or becoming an accredited family mediator for lawyers, or for accountants, you could diversify your skills through a Certificate in Islamic Finance. These look great to employers and can help you stand out from other applicants.
- Master’s Degrees - definitely the most costly way to upskill, but it can be a great option if you’re looking to dive deep into something you’re passionate about. Lawyers seem to get the widest choice, from International Commercial Law to Medical Ethics & Law. But it’s worth looking into if you have a subject you’re passionate about.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box either. Does your ideal job involve travel? Learning a language could help. Do you work within Tax Technology? Gaining a working knowledge of code might give you an edge. Does your job revolve almost entirely around numbers? Consider a word-based course to develop a more rounded skillset.
You can never go wrong with upskilling!
To find out what some of the most current skill demands are - and where best to invest your time - why not reach out to one of our specialist consultants who are on the frontline of tackling the job market’s demands?
4. Work on Your Interview Technique
Interviews and their techniques keep evolving, and no matter how qualified you are for the role, it will pay dividends to research and prepare for the appropriate interview format. This gives you the best chance of impressing. After all, the interview is the time to ensure that you’re shining the brightest spotlight on all your expertise.
Here are our tips to give you an edge in the interview:
- Ask about the interview format - a one-on-one interview is different to a panel interview, and an informal chat is different as well. And with psychometric tests, video recording interviews, and interviews conducted over Zoom or Teams, there are so many different ways to get interviewed, each with its own nuances. Make sure you know what’s ahead and prepare. Video meetings require it’s own etiquette, so keep in mind camera stability and distance! Set it down, so it’s not moving around, and make sure you are at the right distance to be seen and heard clearly.
- Research the company - good areas to focus on are the company’s ethos and values, its culture, recent news from the company - any big cases they’ve worked on or any newsworthy changes - and any blogs or media they’ve published that relates to your sector.
- Research your interviewer - this can help you establish common ground which allows you to seamlessly build rapport. Have a read-through of their company profile and keep a note of anything that jumps out to you.
- Ask questions - it’s something of a cliche but remember you’re interviewing them too. It’s great to ask questions throughout as it shows engagement, but a lot of interviewers will give you the opportunity to ask questions at the end. Take them up on this. Some really good questions to ask at the end are:
- What does success look like in this role? - this gives you an indication of the metrics used to measure you. Is it all target-driven and KPI-focused? Do they value soft skills and building a team environment?
- What is your management style like? - no one likes to be micromanaged, but a hands-off approach isn’t always suitable. This will give you a look into who you’ll be working with and whether you’ll mesh well.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? - this is a classic question to be asked, but turning it around on them gives you the chance to see what progression looks like in the role, as well as whether there is longevity to the role.
- Do you have any reservations about my suitability for this role? - this is a bold move, but it allows you to address any concerns head-on and leave the interviewer feeling reassured about your application.
- Try and get feedback from the interviewer - this can be tricky, it can be notoriously difficult to get feedback, meaning it can be difficult to improve. Check out our blog on how to get feedback after an interview which was written in response to finding out a lot of our job-seekers experienced this very issue.
5. Go Through a Recruiter
I know we may sound biased but working with a credible recruiter who can help you select the best roles and navigate the recruitment process is priceless - in more than one sense of the word since there’s no price attached to the services a recruiter offers; it’s a completely free service!
A good recruiter can help you navigate the employment market by:
- Negotiating on your behalf - a job offer has come in, but it’s £2000 less than you’d hoped for. Or maybe you wanted more holiday days or a more flexible hybrid policy. Well, we can save you the stress of negotiating by doing it for you.
- Assisting with job applications - we can save you from going through the internal application system for each company and therefore bypass the need to make a new account for each company and provide the same information ad nauseam.
- Letting you skip the cover letter - as recruiters make the introduction for you, we effectively write your cover letter. Say goodbye to writing a separate and unique cover letter for each individual application.
- Help with interviews - as they work closely with companies, they can provide more focused interview advice to help ensure you’re demonstrating the skills that they’re looking for, whether it’s knowing a company prefers visible passion, or that your CPD certificate from 2 years ago exactly fills a gap in the team.
- Getting interview feedback - it can be tricky getting feedback. For candidates, it can be a lot of calls and emails to try and get feedback from an interview. But a good recruiter will make sure to get you open and honest feedback from every interview.
- Provide advice tailored to you - A good recruiter will take the time to get to know you. This means we’ll know exactly what sort of roles you’d be interested in by being able to pinpoint what is important to you and what would immediately veto a job. As we work closely with companies, we also have a bit more insight into the best places to work.
- Sharing our knowledge - working with a recruiter means that you’ll have an insider in the employment market. They can tell you exactly what the market is like, where you might struggle and how you can overcome those struggles. We can also help make sure your salary lines up with the competitive market rate - if you’re being underpaid, we’ll tell you.
- Saving you time - doing everything above alone is massively time-consuming. The amount of effort needed to find answers to even the simplest of questions can be a job in and of itself. And funnily enough, it is a job. It’s the recruiter’s job. We’ll do our job and get you your job.
If you’re looking for that next role, reach out or check our current vacancies.
Whether you’re looking for more advice straight from our Recruitment Room or to connect with the right recruiter, we’ll help make sure age doesn’t hinder your job search.
David Waddell is Managing Director at Harvey John.
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