Your Life’s Work has Just Begun

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Not quite ready to retire and looking for a new career? Recently been made redundant? Want to get out and earn some extra cash in retirement, in addition to your company pension? Whatever your situation, finding work when you’re older can be a daunting task. Job hunting is certainly no picnic and, perhaps now so more than ever, workplace ageism has meant that those over 50 often have to combat stereotypes and face fierce competition from their younger counterparts in order to find the ideal job.

While this type of ageism is certainly being challenged by a handful of companies pledging to champion older workers, we still have a long way to go. Have you ever been told you’re “too old to work”? Us too. Here’s what you need to know about finding a job over 50.

Be clear about what you might like to do

There are a million and one different routes you can take in terms of employment, whether it’s a part-time job, freelance, consultancy or contractual work, self-employment or even a returnship. So it’s important that you consider:

  • What kind of job you would like to do
  • What type of organisation you’d like to work for
  • What skillset you’ll need and what skills you already possess
  • How to communicate all of the above

Understanding your signature skills and strengths is vital in all stages of the job hunting process, from initial searches and network building to the final interview. Think about the top four or five things that you are really good at, and what your areas of interest are, and keep those in mind when you’re looking for work. Yet while it is good to be clear about what you want to do, also be open-minded about what opportunities could be suitable for you.

Embrace and deal with change

This could be the time to move into a new field and, with 10 plus years ahead, it could be worth making the move. Your choices may not revolve around the highest income, but could focus more on what you’re passionate about.

You may like to give something back or take on more of a development or mentoring role. There are so many options so remember to be creative and think about what you love to do and what people are likely to pay you for. Look at it as a new adventure and maybe even think about the career advice you wish you’d had at, say, 25 and put this into action – the perfect job could be at the intersection.

Types of work especially suitable for over 50s

Part-time jobs

This type of job could be ideal for you if you’re looking to earn an extra wage alongside your pension, if you have a health condition and are unable to undertake full-time employment, or if you need to balance work with looking after your grandchildren or caring for a partner, parent or relative.

Returnships or apprenticeships

Returnships are a growing initiative in the UK, introduced by City investment banks in 2014, which help experienced professionals return gradually to senior positions following a break from work, although this may also be extended in the near future to include low- and mid-level positions.

Not only are they useful for full-time parents looking to rejoin the workforce, but they can also be extremely beneficial for older workers who have been out of employment for long periods of time. Those on a returnship programme are employed on short-term paid contracts and take on roles that match their skills and experience, helping them to ease back into working life, bring their current skills up-to-date through training and mentoring, build up their confidence and help them decide if full-time employment is something they want to commit to. See Women Returners for a list of returnships.

‘Professional’ apprenticeships combine work with study and are particularly useful for those who have not studied for a degree or other higher education qualification but who do have a diverse and valuable skillset. Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes (and aren’t just for young adults leaving school!), but have been most successful in the healthcare and public service sectors in addition to computer technology. See Gov.UK’s apprenticeship guide for more information on how to apply.

Freelance and contractual work

Great alternatives if you’d like to reap the benefits of working in retirement, need flexible working hours, would like to work from home or want to plan your own work schedule. It will, however, be important for you to choose what kind of freelance or contractual work you’d like to do, create a brand and a portfolio of past work in your area of expertise, and promote yourself effectively, whether it’s through networking and word of mouth or on popular websites like LinkedIn and PeoplePerHour.

Self-employment or starting your own business

If we’re told we might have to work until we’re 70, we may as well go full force! If you have an idea for a business, one that perhaps you’ve been thinking about for years, now could be the time to make it a reality. Whether it’s consultancy, a small shop or even making and selling things online through Etsy or eBay, the world is your oyster.

To start, it may be a good idea to create a solid business plan to help you carve a direction for your business and to talk to others who have been through the process themselves to see if they can offer any tips or advice.

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