Do you dread retirement?
The word ‘retirement’ has always meant different things to different people. For some, it was the prospect of living the easy life after years of graft, relaxing doing the things they had always wanted to do but didn’t have the time. For others, it was a gloomy prospect of years of boredom stretching into the distance.
Today, retirement is almost a word that doesn’t exist. People who have gone past what used to be called the retirement age often find themselves busier than ever.
Now the Government is trying to harness the energy and drive of the Saga Generation with a new strategy called Fuller Working Lives. It aims to inspire people over 50 to harness the benefits of continuing to work, encourage businesses in enabling them, and help JobCentres to be better attuned to the needs of older job seekers.
Encouraging older people back into work
From April 2017, employers across the UK will have to pay an apprenticeship levy, the costs going towards training a new tranche of workers – whatever their age – as part of the move to positively encourage 3 million older people into work by 2020.
A new Business Champion for Older Workers team has been appointed and many other initiatives are underway. The mantra for employers are the new ‘Three Rs’ – Retain, Retrain and Recruit.
Saga is in full agreement. Gary Nice, lead recruitment manager for Saga has a mission to ensure opportunities are available for all generations. “The benefit that over 50s bring to our business is evident from the number of colleagues we have in that bracket who are doing amazing work each and every day.
“We encourage applications from all age groups and our approach to cross-generational knowledge and skills-sharing benefits everyone.”
Saga also urged the Chancellor to use his March 2017 Budget to create Employers’ National Insurance breaks for those employing workers of any age who have been long-term jobless.
Saga’s Director of Communications Paul Green said: “Currently nearly half of the long-term-unemployed are over 50. Radical action around national insurance contributions would help people back into work.
“Saga says the 2017 Budget should not be solely focused on the JAMs. It should also help those stuck in predicaments they find hard to escape – trapped in homes too large for them, caught in the care net and willing to work but locked out of the jobs market.”
Why is a multigenerational workforce important now?
Why all the activity? Although we are living longer, the average age of leaving the labour market is lower now than it was in 1950. And with Brexit looming, the UK needs to retain older workers as the number of immigrant workers is expected to fall after we leave the EU.
From staying longer at an existing occupation; moving to something different or even embarking on a totally new career. There should be no barriers to what we can aspire to and achieve.
As Employment Minister Damian Hinds says: ‘We want to harness the power of a truly multi-generational workforce to ensure a brighter future for us all.”
And what a power it is. Older people not only have experience but are reliable and dependable too. It’s not all about what’d good for the country, either, as staying at work longer is good for mental and physical health, and boosts finances. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green estimated: “By delaying retirement until 65 instead of 55, someone with average earnings could have £280,000 extra income and might increase their pension pot by 55%.”
Working past retirement: a case study
When Vasantha Harding was 58, she took a voluntary exit package from her lecturing job in nursing after 23 years specialising in coronary care. This came at just the right time as she felt the long hours were getting too much.
But after two years, she decided ‘golf was no longer enough’ and, after a stint of voluntary work at a hospital, she decided to return to work part-time as a nurse. ‘I felt limited as a volunteer as there was only so much that I was allowed to do – and I knew so much more.’ She found it relatively easy to return as over the years she had kept her skills up to date.
Now 63, Vasantha works on the outpatients’ ward, making full use of her skills and experience. It was there that she was head-hunted by the dermatology team to retrain as a skin-cancer specialist.
“It was great as it used all my skills but hours wise it went a bit crazy. However, we negotiated and now I do a three-day week. I absolutely disagree with the idea that older people are not interested in or are not successful at learning new things. I intend to remain in work for as long as I’m fit and able.
“I love helping the young nurses coming up through the ranks and have adored being able to add another string to my bow with dermatology training.”
So how do you get back to work in later life?
1. Be clear why you want to work
Is it for the money? Maybe your pension isn’t enough to meet your needs or you want to defer it.
Or for companionship – you enjoy the camaraderie from work. Perhaps you want to develop yourself and learn and earn.
Being clear on why you want to work will make research easier.
2. Decide what to do
You can do more of the same: if you were an office manager you might now want to work closer to home or part-time. Or there might be something you really want to do and want to retrain – there are many apprenticeship schemes aimed at older workers.
Make a list of everything you would love to do. Look at jobs in growth areas: information security analysts, data analysts, roles within architectural practices, and a wide range of jobs within personal services and health care.
Research online and then talk to people. Narrow your choice down to one job that will be easy, but also a couple you would love to do.
Using a career coach could help to make this happen.
3.Understand your skill set
We have gained skills through our work history but also through hobbies and outside activities.
Look further than your CV and list all the skills you have. Then review: there will be skills you love to use and want to keep on using, and others that drain you. So focus on those you love.
The job you want to do may require skills you lack; you could learn on the job, via an apprenticeship scheme or retrain.
4. Believe in you
Success often depends on the conversations we have in our heads. Believe we can and we are halfway there.
Many of my older clients see their age as a negative, but mature applicants have a lot to offer: a different perspective, years of relevant experience, excellent interpersonal skills and a good work ethic.
Stop the voice in your head telling you not to go for a job and concentrate instead on all the reasons you will be successful.
5. Review your CV
Your CV should focus on the job you want and why you are a good match.
Gone are the personal statements. Your focus needs to be on the recruiter: what key information do they need to make them want to read on?
List your skills and provide specific examples within the body of your CV. You don’t need to go back to the 1970s; in most cases 15 years is sufficient – unless you need to highlight a key earlier job.
Lose the dates around your education (unless they are recent) and forget about O-levels. But include short courses you’ve done to keep your skills updated.
Most recruiters will search on a website called LinkedIn, which is also a good place to find vacancies, so you need to have a presence there. Make your summary less formal than a CV; see it as talking over your key highlights with someone. Include a great picture – do smile!
6. Find jobs
Remember when we used to find jobs in the local paper? Now they’re mainly online.
It’s best to use an ‘aggregator’ site such as Indeed and to set clear parameters so you are not overwhelmed with job suggestions. Most employment agencies are unlikely to be helpful: don’t expect them to provide careers advice, nor should you expect a reply from them – if they can use you they will be in touch.
You may have more success using specialist agencies. The better way to find jobs is through people you know or via LinkedIn. Tell people what you are looking for and why you are a good match. They can then let you know of any vacancies, often before they are listed.
Or contact organisations direct. Get in touch and ask to meet up to discuss how you can be of help, rather than asking outright for a job.
Q I’m 54 and planning to take early retirement next year. I’m an experienced traveller, fluent in French and Italian, and fancy being a tour company rep. Any advice?
Saga travel executive Makala Thomas says: ‘We look for independent individuals who have had customer service experience. Organisational, administrative and people skills are a prerequisite. We are also looking for flexibility and adaptability – you never know what each day may bring.
‘The role is challenging and can involve long hours. It suits someone who is able to be away from home for long periods of time and who can work alone as well as in a team. It suits single people rather than married – it’s actually very rare that we can arrange a placement together.
‘Languages are necessary in some areas, particularly where our hotels and tours are off the beaten track. Repping experience before coming to us for a resort representative role isn’t necessary. It is useful for the individual to have travelled widely, but this is not the sole requirement for the job.’
Check sagacareers.co.uk in November and June.
7. The interview
Expect questions on your competency, so practise answers that give specific examples of what you did.
Your interviewer may have preconceived ideas – older people are resistant to change, can’t learn new things, aren’t up to date in technology. Have examples ready to prove them wrong.
Don’t turn up in your interview outfit from the 1980s. Aim for being smartly contemporary.
8. Expect challenges
It will take time, and there will be rejection. You may be interviewed by someone the age of your child.
Keep focused on what you want but also be open to other opportunities: volunteering or being a grown-up intern can help you develop further skills and gain more experience. Professional help may be needed to review your CV or hone your interview skills.
9. Review your progress
Are you being as good as you can be? Could you improve your approach? Working with a friend or career coach can keep enthusiasm high.
10. Stay where you are
If you have a job you love, you should be able to continue – there is no longer a default retirement age. If the hours are getting too much, talk to your line manager and discuss adjusting them or moving to a less pressurised role.
Enlightened employers can use your expertise to mentor younger staff.
Denise Taylor is a career psychologist with amazingpeople.co.uk and author of You’re Hired!
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