Author: Nicolette Wykeman, a Move in2 the Future Thought Leader
The furlough scheme comes to an end in October. The question is, how will that affect our total workforce and the over 50’s in particular? According to The Centre of Ageing Better (2020), the number of over 50’s seeking unemployment-related benefits during lockdown rose to over half a million in June and is expected to rise even further by October.
When you are in a role, it is not always easy to see what opportunities lay ahead but with the threat of a redundancy, you are forced to broaden your search. So how can you prepare yourself for this threat? Showing resilience is key as well as facing up to the challenges ahead. In this article, I will share some other tips to broaden your options and opportunities.
Your job role might disappear in the short term (or the long-term, this will be hard to predict) and you will need to rethink your career. Or perhaps you might have felt unhappy for a while in your current role but never found the right time to re-think your career. For both options, it is important to get a clear understanding of what future jobs will be out there, which jobs you would be interested in and for which of these jobs you will be the best suited to. One additional avenue is to think about people who have been in a similar role to you and what other careers or jobs they have gone into.
Review your skillset and strengths
Apart from finding out about potential future jobs, it is important to think about what makes you unique and suitable for that role. What are your main skills? Which of these skills are transferable skills and are relevant in your potential new job? What can you do well and enjoy doing? These are just a few of many questions to ask yourself before applying to a new role.
Professional and social networking
Online and offline job vacancies will always be there, but you could argue if that is the best way for an older worker to secure a job. About 60 to 70 per cent of jobs are not officially listed and are part of the so-called ‘hidden’ job market. If you have been expanding your professional online and offline network over the years, this could be a good moment to reach out to your connections. Especially when you know what type of role you are looking for and have a clear view of what you have to offer after reviewing your skills and strengths. The more focused you are, the easier people will be able to help and/ or connect you in their network.
When you are working in a vocational skilled job, your social network might even be more important than your professional network to tap into. Think about your sport clubs, choir or the voluntary work you do. Personal contacts can often be much stronger connections than work ones and are also likely to be more diverse. Remember ‘networking is just one letter away from not working’ as Kerry Hannon said. In other words, networking is key to ensure you have options if you lose your job.
Customisation is key; make sure your CV contains the relevant skills and expertise your future employer is looking for. Focus on your achievements and the difference you have made in your role. Less is more, two pages is the standard and cut down your experience to the last ten years instead of writing down your whole work history. It is better to send five tailored applications with relevant experience than 50 standard ones.
With the acceptance of working from home during lockdown, it might be an opportunity to combine two roles. You could currently be working five days a week in one job, but you could end up with having two or even three different jobs at the same time. This could be a combination of virtual and on-site jobs. Some people would welcome the variety, but other people will also need to combine roles out of necessity.
Perhaps you have always thought about starting your own business and never found the right moment. When you face redundancy, this might be the right time to re-think the option before actively seeking another job.
What have you done to keep yourself up to date in your career? Have you been working for the same company for many years? Have you had different roles within that company? These are relevant questions to ask yourself in these uncertain times. There are currently so many online training opportunities you can tap into. Especially with a prolonged life ahead, it is important to stay relevant in a fast-changing job market. Also, some types of training that you undertake through your company can be offset against the apprentice levy meaning that it does not cost the company any money.
Curiosity and staying positive
I would stress the importance of staying curious and be open to change. This could be in the form of learning new skills to staying physical active to completely change your career in later life. Staying positive is important as well. If you read the news, it is all doom and gloom and it is easy to be negative about the future. After all, a positive attitude might not give you a job, but it will help you in securing the job at an interview!
Besides of the older workers being prepared for facing redundancies, the government can do more to stimulate the hiring of this group of workers. The government talks about’ kick starting the economy’ without specifying exactly what it entails. I would love to see an increase in the senior apprenticeships and not only in the big accountancy or consulting firms. The government could subsidise or provide other incentives such as tax relief to encourage companies to hire older workers and they could offer new inclusive back-to work support programmes for the young and old.
Positive framing of older workers is long overdue, we should stop talking about an ageing society and start talking about healthy longevity, which was introduced by MP Matt Hancock only recently. The government should wake up to reality that we need the older workers to work because we will have less people entering the job market and immigration will be down because of Brexit. I am looking forward to seeing some clear action plans of this government in place before the unemployment tsunami amongst the older workers will hit reality.
In summary, instead of waiting for redundancy to happen, it is key to take action through understanding what options you have, talking to your network, refreshing your skills and keeping an eye for opportunities whether they are free training, ways to extend your skill set or career routes taken by other co-workers or friends. The more active you are, the more options you will create and the higher the chance of finding a suitable opportunity.
Silverforce Coaching specialises in Midlife Career Coaching. Nicolette Wykeman, Founder of Silverforce Coaching, believes “Every professional should be challenged, whatever their age”
Nicolette has over 25 years International business experience including more than 15 years as a Career Coach, helping professionals reach their career goals. She has a Masters in Career Management in the UK (focusing on the ageing workforce) and works as an Associate Careers Consultant for different Business Schools, such as Imperial College, in London and for outplacement organisations. This blend of different clients gives her valuable insights in the (future) world of work and its challenges.
Silverforce Coaching clients benefit from a solution-based approach through which they motivate and inspire their clients towards their desired result.