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Ask James Caan – Issue 79

Written by Kimberley Startup | January 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

Dear Member,

First of all, I’m pleased to see the activity within the group gaining momentum. We have a number of useful discussions going on that I hope everyone can benefit from, and advise members to get the most they can from them.

This week I’ve chosen to answer a letter from Carl who, despite his background of working for the Job Centre, is in a predicament.

Carl, aged 59, is once again seeking employment. He tells me his last role was as a Personal Advisor on a two-year contract with DWP Jobcentreplus that ended in the summer, but gave him the chance to bring his own skills and experiences to help ‘customers’ find meaningful and sustainable employment.

He wrote:

‘Since my contract ended I have managed to secure 4 interviews which I felt went very well, but no job offers followed! Realistically I do feel that age is a deciding factor in making appointments, but with the government’s insistence that we all work longer for our pensions I am left wondering how on earth I can convince employers that I have the skills, experience, tenacity and hunger to be an essential part of their team!’

Carl, I chose your letter to answer this week because it highlighted what it’s like to search for jobs when you’ve personally helped others to secure work. You’ve had first-hand experience of working with the unemployed, advising them on what prospects are available and how to search for jobs – only to find yourself in a similar situation.

The good news is that you’re securing interviews. You’ve obviously got a formula when it comes to writing your CV that works; now it’s time to assess the interview performance and the factors that will influence it.

Let’s start with the age issue. Unfortunately, age is and will continue to be a much debated topic when it comes to job hunting.

Every time the age debate presents itself within a conversation, I always maintain that with age comes experience. This doesn’t mean I would favour an older worker over a school leaver; however it means that I value the skills gained and use it to see the bigger picture.

What I find interesting about the issue of over 50s struggling to secure work is the assumption held by some that once you reach this ‘peak’ age –you won’t be as fast or as energetic in your role.

There’s a view held that – just like a school leaver is deemed inexperienced – older workers won’t deliver as much value to the business or fit in with the culture.  This archaic viewpoint is exactly that – old fashioned and in need of a definite re-think.

Just look at some of most successful people around us – they are still going on to achieve incredible feats well into their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s – so why are older workers facing this level of discrimination?

How can you turn this around to your advantage?

Success in today’s job market is about finding a need and filling it. The job market is more fluid than it has ever been. Statistically more people change jobs and companies than they have ever done before.  This volatility provides opportunities, and it’s your job to spot them.

I need you to be even more proactive in understanding a potential employer’s needs. Read between the lines of a job advert or discussion.

If you’re told they need a highly motivated recruitment consultant – straight away you know you’ll need to demonstrate a consistent track record of hitting your targets, delighting candidates and clients, and delivering time after time. Identify what they’re really asking you, and remove any hint of concern.

I appreciate this is harder than it sounds, but if you can push yourself even further and align your thinking to theirs, you should start seeing some traction.

I wish you the best of luck,

James

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