Did you know that it is estimated that by 2020 a third of Britain’s workforce will be over 50? Interesting fact I think you will agree. Now being a more mature gent, I am becoming increasingly aware of the career challenges for the “baby boomer” generation as we move toward retirement.
Of course retirement is a moot point these days. Governments across the world are facing difficulties making the pension provision books balance, as a result of us very selfishly living longer. The emphasis now is for us to look to work longer and to make more of a contribution to our pensions.
Older and Wiser
So how do we manage our working life as we move into our middle & later age? How do we make plans for our learning & development and possible career transitions if need be? Hopefully, this post will begin to present the basic strategies necessary to ensure you stay happy and fulfilled in your work. Clearly doing something you enjoy is great for your health, and the sense of satisfaction you are doing a job that you can thrive in. Moreover, perhaps add to your financial security, enjoyment at work and perhaps most of all your well-being.
The accepted wisdom is that the 50+ do not have the financial commitments of earlier life. So perhaps no or a low mortgage and any children left home for pastures new. However, a report from the Equality & Human Right Commission-Working Together (2010) suggest that “nearly 40 per cent of 50-55 year-olds are caring for children or adults“. Moreover “25 per cent of over 50s provide financial support for their children, primarily to pay for education. While 50-55 year-olds are most likely to have such financial responsibilities, 9 per cent of 70-75 year-olds are still supporting their children financially”.
So for some, there are real and tangible reasons for us to continue at work. The report also suggests the 50+ workforce want to carry on working and being productive. Whilst looking for learning opportunities to enhance their career prospects, regardless of life stage and type of career. The 50+ generation understands that being at work is a healthy place to be. Being at work help us maintain social contacts, nurturing our all important mental health & physical well-being. So with all this information how do more mature worker plan for their career changes? How can we help each other focus upon being in a job that will sustain us into their later years?
Mature Career Strategy
The intention here is to start the thought process and to map out a strategy for the person looking to change career, enhance a current career/job or perhaps move into a job that we will feel happy and fulfilled to do for years to come. So to get things moving, here are a few points to bear in mind when thinking about your career, and how you can plan for your further life at work.
- Understand what you want from a job, is it full or part-time, perhaps you want to start a business, what about a portfolio career or do you want to work flexibly? How much do you need to earn to support your lifestyle or outgoings? You may need to ask yourself these questions to understand what you value and where other commitments fit into your working life. A survival budget is a good place to start from in this regard. A survival budget is a way to map out exactly how much income you need to support your current financial commitments. Clearly changing careers may well need some money in reserve to help you over difficult times. That may be further training, new skills or perhaps marketing yourself in a different role.
- Focus upon your skills, abilities and achievements – when you reflect upon your working life and start to give yourself credit for your achievements it feels good and a great confidence boost. This is the information you will need to compile for a new and brilliant CV. Try to drill down into those achievements and legacies you have left behind in a job that has changed they way the company does things. How did you improves processes, sales, quality etc that made a difference? This is the value you can bring to another company or prospective client.
- Create that winning CV – most CV’s are a continual work in progress. They should be adaptable and flexible to meet the needs of the prospective employer. With the 50+ CV, it can be difficult to know what to leave out and what to put in. With support, the CV will present you in the best possible light to any employer with your skills, abilities, knowledge and experience. You can also use it as a motivational tool to reflect positively on what you have achieved in your career to date.
- Use your networks – you will no doubt have built up great networks in your career and working life. The question is are they the right networks? If you aspire to a higher position in an organisation, then you need to network in those circles. Sounds obvious but sometimes overlooked. An aspect to add to your strategy. Networking can be face to face or perhaps via social media of course.
- Being 50+ is a huge benefit – well it is! It may be a little galling to be perhaps interviewed by a person a half or a third of your age, but these are the barriers that may need to be overcome. Your experience, reliability, conscientiousness, adaptability along with a number of other skills you have gathered over the years ought to be applauded. You will have experienced up’s and down’s during your working life and driven through them and survived. You can problem solve and help colleagues see things from a different perspective. So big up your skills, resilience and experience.
- Face the barriers positively – you may feel that there is prejudice for a 50+ worker. There may be but without evidence, it may be difficult to justify. Ultimatly this world view can go on to promote poor confidence and self-esteem. It can’t be used as an excuse, so the challenge is to find ways to be confident in your abilities to make you the choice for employers.
- Make a plan and get support – where ever you choose to get the support you need, work toward creating a strategy that meets your needs and future plans. Do your research, make a plan and take action.
Clearly, there is more to this business than meets the eye. This outline for your career/employability strategy may well not meet or match your aspirations of background. If not adapt it and take action to make something that can work your you.
Needless to say, this is just a brief outline of the issues presenting the 50+ person who would like a happy and fulfilling working life through middle and later years. There are too many variables to add to the mix, however with a plan and understanding what you want from your working life will help you make the choices necessary for your future. You will probably be retired longer than you were working full-time so why not enjoy your mature years at work. There are too many workplace benefits to ignore the mature worker. There will be something for everyone as the mature workforce becomes more and more an attractive proposition for employers and business investors.
Maitland, A. (2010) Working Together, Equality & Human Right Commission http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/documents/publications/workingbetter_over_50s.pdf