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Top Tips for getting that job at 50 plus– View from a Recruitment Consultant- Nicola Brooks

Ageism shouldn’t exist in the workplace, but it does and unfortunately you can’t stop it from happening. But what can you control when you are applying for a role you really want?

A new job is like a blank book and you are the author.”—Author unknown

Here are some tips that I would advise all candidates to adhere to, but these are especially useful for overcoming prejudices interviewers may have on appointing over fifties.

Nicola has been recruiting senior level finance professionals into the NHS for 21 years, working for Interim Professionals and the permanent division, Executive Professionals. Together with NHS England & NHS Improvement, Nicola established “Women in Leadership for Finance”, a networking group of senior female finance leaders which addresses the imbalance of gender balance at board level in the NHS. She can be contacted directly at nicola@interim-professionals.co.uk

  1. Use your experience to your advantage– Credibility, gravitas, wisdom but also the combination of 30 + years in the workplace – what experience have you gained over this time that someone in their 30s or 40s may not yet have encountered in their career? Be clear and confident about this.
  2. Keep up to speed with technology – a common misconception is that “older candidates” will be out of touch with new technology and social media. Do your homework to make sure you do not fall into this category. Make sure you are active on Twitter and Linked in, Keep up to date with TED talks, webinars and podcasts on new technologies relevant to your field. Make sure you are adept at MS teams and Zoom and that you are comfortable initiating meetings. Practise these at home, engage your kids or your friends’ children who have grown up with these.
  3. Develop your networks and do your research – your network will be invaluable to get background information on the role you are interviewing for. Take every opportunity on offer to speak to the hiring manager or individuals who you know will be involved in the interview process. Ask them questions about the role, what it’s like to work there and listen. The more you know about the role and the more the interviewers know about you and the research you have done on the role/organisation, the stronger your chance of getting the job. If the hiring manager has put their telephone number on the job advert, ALWAYS call them and make it personal. The more experience you have, the wider your network should be – use this to your advantage.
  4. You are not too old to get a mentor. Be clear what your development areas are and work on these with your mentor. Also reverse mentoring with an individual more junior than you can help you to connect with a different generation and to learn from them.
  5. Think about your image – This is important at any age, dress for the job you want to get, not for the one you have. Regardless of whether a meeting is in person or online, the interviewer will inevitably make subconscious assumptions about you based on your appearance and this is something you can control – own your space.
  6. Keep your CV brief –it’s unrealistic to cram a 30 year long career onto 2 pages but try to keep to 4 pages or less, focusing more on the more recent and more senior roles. Eliminate language from your CV which no longer exists e.g. “Personnel”.
  7. Demonstrate you are open to learning new things and constantly evolving. A common misconception of the more mature candidate is that they will be set in their ways and resistant to change. What have you initiated or changed in your current role? What are you doing right now that is new? This doesn’t have to be work related but could be learning to play chess or the guitar, or learning a language.
  8. Ask for help – do you have a recruitment professional/colleague or friend you can trust who can look over your CV or cover letter or who can do a mock interview with you? No matter how much experience you have, you can still get better at being interviewed.

Nicola has been recruiting senior level finance professionals into the NHS for 21 years, working for Interim Professionals and the permanent division, Executive Professionals. Together with NHS England & NHS Improvement, Nicola established “Women in Leadership for Finance”, a networking group of senior female finance leaders which addresses the imbalance of gender balance at board level in the NHS. She can be contacted directly at nicola@interim-professionals.co.uk

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