Are you more than 50 years old this year and worried that nobody would want to hire an older worker? Is this the reason why you are reluctant to leave your current job to find something more satisfying? Before you answer “Yes”, we want to tell you why you should not be worried about being an older worker. It is because Age is never the only deciding factor for why people want to hire you.
In the job market, a person’s worth is what skills and abilities you bring to the job, hence Tafep (The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices) has been advocating fair employment to encourage unbiased hiring. In addition to that, your age can sometimes play to your advantage because you have rich work experience and this is a precious asset that your younger colleagues may pale in comparison.
Staying Relevant as an Older Worker
Instead of age, focus on these questions:
1. Have you kept up with technology and do you have the relevant technology skills set?
2. Are you open to embrace changes in culture in the new Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguous (VUCA) world?
3. Are you able to accept compensation according to each job size or a change in grade/status from your previous jobs?
4. Did you take good care of your health and mental wellness?
Whether you are, 50 or 30 years old, keeping up with technology is a challenge everybody faces. Even a younger compatriot finds that if he does not keep himself updated with the new devices, new platforms or new digital work processes, he will definitely lose his competitiveness in the industry. Hence, it is crucial that an an older worker, we should constantly keep up with technology, such as Generative AI, Chat GPT, Machine Learning, Large Language Models (LLM), cloud platforms etc, to evolve with the digital developments.
If you are in the technology related industry, it would be more imperative to upgrade yourself and be well-informed.
The Singapore Government has been encouraging Singaporeans to enroll courses on the Skillsfuture website, with Skillsfuture credits some courses come almost for free. Perhaps, it is time for you to take action.
Look at me, I took up a Digital Marketing course and now I am working at Citadel Search, taking care of Digital Marketing for the company. I am also learning recruiting processes and understanding how headhunting works. With warm colleagues who share their knowledge with me, I am happily back in the workforce again.
When COVID19 hit, all activities were brought to a halt. I had no work as a Live Sound Engineer for months. And when I saw a Digital Marketing Course ad on Facebook, I decided that it was time for a bold move. I signed up for the course of 6 months, graduated from the course and sent out countless resumes to companies. I did not know who would hire me because my resume showed no relevance to Digital Marketing at all, but I was not intimidated at all. Through showcasing my project and artwork, and summarising all that I know about Digital Marketing inside my resume, I attempted to persuade many Hiring Managers that I am qualified for the job role. I had confidence that someone would recognise me and employ me. I found my place in Citadel Search, an Executive Search firm in Singapore.
Citadel Search did not see my age as a barrier and focused on my newly developed skills. I was able to use my digital marketing skills and competencies attained from previous work experiences were valued. Although Citadel Search is a recruitment agency which is a completely new industry to enter, I was happy to contribute my skills to one of the top headhunters in Singapore.
Embrace changes in culture and environment
Adaptability is the key to survival. One of our candidates, Miss Lee, is already more than 50 years old yet being a Gen X, her adaptability has gotten her through numerous job changes over the years.
In the COVID period, Miss Lee joined an Insurance Company as an Executive in the Underwriting Department. She revealed that the company’s culture was very different from that of her past experience. She was previously working in an Innovation and Technology Center where everything was so forward-looking and everyone in the business has to keep up with changes in the world. It was a big culture shock for her when business processes were carried out in a traditional way.
Even though Miss Lee felt uncomfortable initially, she knew that she had to adapt to this change. She looked at the bright side and told herself that it was a great opportunity to learn new things. Despite having worked in an Insurance Company before, underwriting & terrorism portfolio were very new to her and she was happy to gain knowledge in this domain. She is one whom we will say, embraces lifelong learning.
Accept compensation according to each job size
“In 2019, I chose to leave my job of 19 years but I never looked back. You win some you lose some.” said Miss Lee. Many of her friends were still looking for jobs with high pay, high positions and benefits, but Miss Lee chose to lower her expectations.
She understood that many companies had suffered major losses due to the pandemic. She mused – How can these companies still pay their employees bonuses? How can they still keep paying for all the benefits when they barely have enough to pay their rents and utilities? And with all the retrenchment going on, Miss Lee was even more determined that she needed to let go of all the stereotypes she might previously held, when finding a new job. That was why she took up the Executive role even though she was an Executive Assistant supporting only C-suite level for 19 years.
Recently Miss Lee got an offer from a non-profit organisation under the recommendation of Citadel Search, and she was so happy that this time round it was really an excellent fit. “At this stage of my life, working for a non-profit organisation is meaningful. It is a good cause and Singapore is working towards a clean and green country.” she said. After learning and building her new assets, she is now hired for a role that she is very excited about. Ms Lee is one of the many testimonies of older workers that Citadel Search has placed.
Take good care of your health
Having a healthy body is of utmost importance if you want to stay active in the labour force. Besides being able to move around freely to perform all the work tasks without hindrance, not feeling lethargic all the time will also allow you to be focused at work. As the Chinese saying goes, “Your biggest wealth is health.” To be able to work effectively, staying healthy is the key. Hence, if you have not started, try exercising regularly and you will feel the big difference.
It’s Never Too Late as an Older Worker
If you are over 50 years old but you are equipped with all 4 conditions stated above and generate positive energy, employers will be attracted to you. All you need is to keep building your skills and be resilient! I am a living proof.
Contributed by Quek Zi Ying
Do check out our job board for jobs that put ‘years of experience’ under their job requirement section. You never know you might be a good fit for the job role! And if you are unsure of how to write a resume that caters to a different industry, Citadel Search is always here to help you in resume writing.