Over Forty (40) and Cannot Find a Job

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

If you have just been retrenched, or have just come back from your recent work abroad, and are already over 40 years old, chances are you will find it difficult to look for a new job. This is the age when you are considered too young to retire, yet too old to get a new job.

To be honest, there are a lot of employers who discriminate against hiring mature employees. They believe that jobseekers over 40 have many family obligations that might affect work. Considering the age and experience of older jobseekers, there is also the expectation that they have to be paid more.

The saying “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” has also been a basis for not considering recruiting older blood. Some hiring officers believe that it is easier for them to train the younger generation than getting their older, less manageable counterparts.

At 40 years old, retiring is not a viable option. There are ways to improve your chances. You just have to get up and work on it. Avoid being the “grumpy old man (or woman)”. Try these strategies:

Apply as soon as possible. If you have just been downsized, apply for a new job immediately. The longer you are out of work, the harder it is to find a job. Long periods of vacancy look terrible on your résumés.

Learn new skills. Nowadays, computer skills are a job requirement regardless of course. Make sure you know basic programs like word processing and how to use spreadsheets. It is also important to know how to send and receive emails. It pays to be always updated with the technological trends. In addition, there are many job postings in the internet. Knowing how to search online will increase your chances in looking for a job.

Highlight your expertise in your résumés and job interviews. Detail all your skills to beef up your credentials. Enumerate your strong points. Never be defensive about your age. Instead, emphasize the variety of knowledge you accumulated during your 10 or 20 years of work experience by highlighting the different skills you learned. Employers are will not be impressed by just the just number of years you had worked unless they see that you also accumulated valuable expertise.

Do not apply for jobs for which you are overqualified. The hiring officer will face issues when it comes to salary. S/he will conclude that you will not settle for a lower bracket. You will not stand a chance against a younger applicant (who is willing to settle for less). If you have both been interviewed, all else being equal, the hiring officer will likely select the younger one.

Go back to school, if you must! If you have the time and can afford it, enrol in a masteral or doctoral program. Nowadays, it is important that what you know is current. Besides, going back to school will bring you the life and zest you had when you were still in college. You will also have a chance to meet many people your age, who are prospective employers.

Network. Associate with people who may be able to help with your employment. Do not lose touch with your industry. Join organizations where you are most likely to meet potential employers.

If all else fails, I suggest doing the following:

Start your own business. You may consider being an entrepreneur. Your experience is an advantage in putting up your own company. Enrol in training programmes where you can learn how to start your own venture.

Seek consulting jobs. You may opt to share your knowledge and experience. In this job, your age may even be an advantage; it is believed that as one matures, one gains more expertise. To market your consultancy at no expense, you could be a resource speaker. This way you will be paid while attracting clients. You do not need to be a master in the art of public speaking since the participants will be there to learn and not to be dazzled by your oratorical skills! (You may contact me regarding this as our company, BusinessCoach Inc. conducts business seminars.)

The bias against mature people is highly prevalent in our country despite existing laws prohibiting such acts. This is a terrible waste of highly skilled human resources and a huge loss of opportunity for the companies who are too short-sighted to consider their application from them.

For those who are in this position there is no need to despair. There are many options open, and with planning and persistence, you will be able to overcome the challenges.

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


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