Getting through a mid-life job crisis

Last updated 05:00 10/06/2014

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After working for numerous years in the education and recruitment industry, a common line heard from those seeking employment is, "I'm too old to change jobs", or "No-one will hire me because of my age".

In today's competitive employment market there is certainly tough competition for roles.

Unfortunately, as much as it is discriminatory and illegal to base judgement for employment on an age basis, this does tend to happen (consciously, or not). Employers want the right cultural fit for their team and this team usually consists of millennials and of course, Generation X.

But there is good news. With the global population aging more and more, mature job-seekers are finding and retaining employment.

According to Statistics New Zealand, 279,600 people over the age of 55 were employed in March 2003 – around 14.4 per cent of the total number of people employed. By March 2013 this number had risen to 489,900, or 21.8 per cent.

The New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment also states that by 2020 it is expected every one in four members of the workforce will be over the age of 55.

With this in mind, you may be wondering why you're still finding it difficult to gain employment. You probably have many years of experience and it is certainly disheartening to receive automated responses of rejection.

There are a few ways to help your applications succeed:

- Update your skills. To stand apart from the crowd and keep up with software updates and technological advances, you will need to do this on an ongoing bases.

Nurses and teachers are required to maintain ongoing professional development for a good reason - to keep up with new information and techniques to ensure the work they do is of the highest calibre and of most benefit to the public.

Take the initiative and update your skills with a course or paper, go down to your local Polytech to learn new accounting software, go to classes or groups where you can share ideas with people in your industry.

Refreshing your knowledge base is a must to prove the work that you do is also of the highest calibre - and of the most benefit to your employer.

- Revamp that CV. Dates of birth, family history and education dating back decades are redundant, so get rid of them. They also can encourage discrimination.

Try not to just put roles and duties - employers want to see that you've made a difference. Show them how you've implemented a new organisational system, increased productivity or revenue.

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- Be pro-active. Employers take advantage of the numerous social networking sites, online job-boards and word of mouth. Finding work out of the newspaper is becoming less frequent. Sign up online and get yourself out there, introduce yourself to people in the industry.

There are many sites out there that offer great tips on how to create professional profiles. (these two are a great start)

Consider retraining in an area where there is a skill shortage - agriculture, IT and engineering are but a few.

I believe that the reliability, loyalty and dedication of the mature working generation is currently undervalued. However, it is only a matter of time before this misconception changes dramatically.

I'd love to hear of any success stories out there.

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