Always a manager?

career change in mature years

It is simply not true that you are finished at 45, 50, even 55 or 60. All that has happened is that the world has changed and you need to address new circumstances in a positive way.

Focus is everything: every role in every sector is to some extent a specialisation; this means that applications must be relevant and show corroborative justification for the career change you envisage.

Shape matters: most people over 40 have a succession of CVs going back to the days of typists using carbon copies or contractors attaching endless sheets of your detailed project work as part of their response to tender; nobody in the real world ever justifies more than two pages of a reader's attention and you have to savagely edit the precious bygone days to focus on the recent past and the immediate future.

People respond to a good message: if the application in total makes a coherent proposition that energetically explains why skills and expertise match future intentions people will take it seriously, no matter how great seems the mountain to climb from your bleaker moments.

There's plenty left to achieve

Many older people discover a niche where their contribution lends stability, even to trendy dot.com enterprises. Some need an element of retraining and all need to capture the Zeitgeist and the buzzwords of the environment they want to work in.

In my experience people who send precise applications to precise targets have achieved success whatever their age, even during the dreadful years of the Thatcher depression. People who are not alert to change send in overblown, pompous and irrelevant applications that literally do go straight in the out-tray that gets emptied by the cleaners.

Myths and mistakes

The pompous posture

You may have been MD five years ago but the most prevalent myth that I encounter as a CV Advisor, in about 50% of all older clients, is the utterly false and ludicrous notion that "man management" in one field equates to seniority in any field. There is no "man management" any more. The workplace is full of women, task ownership, matrix organisations, virtual teamwork - and every single scrap of it is sales led and customer facing. Time to get off the golf course and look at reality...

The interim consultancy myth

This is a variant of the pompous posture wherein oldies hugely inflate their value as consultants and are persuaded to believe that there is a vast market for Interim Consultants. IC was a PR stunt that never came off, except for the lucky few who had contacts and work from previous employers.

The overqualified myth

If I had a tenner for every poor soul who thinks they are getting knocked back because they are "over qualified" I would be a multi-millionaire. Telling people they are over-qualified is an easy way of letting people down after an interview in which they have clearly demonstrated that they are irrelevant, ignorant and out of date. It is also an easy thing to believe when you make 50 applications to the wrong jobs and nobody even replies.

The unadvertised job market myth

Some older candidates reach a point of despair where they can be convinced that an agency that charges them thousands, guarantees them nothing, puts them in front of a juvenile consultant with a video camera and gives them some out-of-date tips on CV writing can help them access a supposed freemasonry of plum jobs for fat cats. If it were that easy, anyone could do it...

Buying a franchise

Every year I have at least 40 clients, usually people returning from abroad, who squander their life savings and sometimes their homes on franchise and get-rich-quick schemes. Ask yourself, if it was really the passport to wealth they claim it is, why would people be helping you get in on the act?

The age prejudice myth

Mixed in with the other myths comes the old excuse that people don't want you because you are too old. Since all my clients, at any age, change jobs about every 3-5 years, many because of mergers and takeovers that are beyond their control, anyone with more than 3 years left before retirement is a viable proposition. If you are 50 and you think people are discriminating against your age you are wrong. they are probably wary of your salary demands and wondering if your out-of-date application method means you need retraining in basic communication skills.