Golden age for plus-40s Blend action and outlook
Older workers are too valuable to ignore, writes Kate Southam
examples from their career history to demonstrate their abilities.
Byrne urges candidates to look beyond their age if they want potential employers to do the same. ‘‘ I say to them, ‘ what if it wasn’t age, what else could it be? You cannot change your age, but you can change your resume or your attitude or your approach.’ ’’
Dickinson says employers need more educat- ing and candidates must be positive. ‘‘ We have placed an older candidate in a job as a stable hand at an Arabian horse stud in Victoria and another as funds administrator at a major investment bank in Sydney,’’ he says. ‘‘ If someone talks about age, focus on your skills. Skills are king. Believe in yourself. And don’t give up.’’
Dickinson quotes the late author and grazier, Sarah Henderson: ‘‘ All the strength you need to
IAN BLAIR is 69 years young and something of a ‘‘ poster boy’’ for career-minded job hunters aged over 45 — the definition of a ‘‘ mature age worker’’. After a year spent looking for work, Blair secured a permanent job as a senior consultant with Melbourne-based Prima Consulting, which provides software solutions for corporate and government clients.
‘‘ I am told there are not many 69-year-olds in the IT industry,’’ he says. Not that Blair is a Luddite. He was using a computer to analyse farming productivity in the 1960s. He was an early internet user and ‘‘ there at the beginning’’ of software languages such as SQL and integrated packages such as Microsoft Office.
He says working with technology again ‘‘ is like visiting old familiar faces and places’’.
Blair had an unbroken employment record between 1962 and 1990 with 10 different employers. A decade of contracting, self-created employment and odd jobs followed.
His Prima role came after hundreds of applications. His interview rate had risen after he made changes to his resume (see Blair’s tips) but he was tiring of the rejections.
According to experts, when the rallying cry first went out for mature-age candidates to return to the workforce a few years ago, the employment sector was not actually ready for them.
As a result, many of them are now angry and exhausted from application fatigue — just as real change is starting to happen.
Paul Dickinson of Plus40, Julie Mills of the Recruitment Consulting & Services Association, Catriona Byrne of Adage, Stephen Moir of the Moir Group and Ben Cass of Link Recruitment — who placed Blair — are among those warning of the economic perils of age prejudice.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, mature-age workers make up one-third of Australian workforce compared to only one quarter two decades ago.
Between 1998 and 2016, it estimates only 7 per cent of new employment growth will come from those aged below 35, 8 per cent from those aged 35 to 45 and 85 per cent from those over 45.
‘‘ Consultants still need to build skills around having the confidence in their choice of candidate, which means not always allowing the client to drive the decision but to take the solution to the client and package it up as the best solution,’’ Mills says.
Her association has urged members to audit their own employees. ‘‘ We say, ‘ do your own analysis on what your internal staffing looks like. What sort of people do candidates see when they come in your office door?’ ’’
Moir, who heads his own executive recruitment company, has created a course tailored to older candidates which he teaches at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education.
In addition to tips on presentation and resumes, Moir uses role play to help candidates prepare for job interviews.
Moir believes older candidates are not comfortable with the idea of selling themselves, nor are they familiar with ‘‘ behavioural’’ interview technique where the candidate uses specific Ian Blair’s tips:
Have more than one resume if marketing different skill sets. I have two resumes, each is 13 pages long. Put everything in your resume and use bold type to highlight specific skills. I list my key skills and work experiences using a table format, so modern resumesearch technology can find the key points.
Keep physically fit. I’ve rowed for 50 years and run for 50, including four marathons. Life is more demanding and sedentary now. If you don’t keep fit at home, you won’t keep fit at work and you’ll drift off into oblivion. Exercise does two things: it combats depression and builds energy levels. You need that when you get knocked back on the job-hunt.
Keep skills up-to-date. I read voraciously — a book a week— business, science and military history . . . Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash, Brigadier Arnold Potts and Genghis Khan were all fantastic managers, operating in life-and-death situations and they were successful. It’s good training for business life.
Understand the new superannuation rules. I will save more in the next five years than it took me 40 years to save before. Paying off a house, raising the kids, establishing a family lifestyle, left little for super contributions. Now, I put everything into super.
You need to be grateful for a supportive family. My wife, two grown-up children and now twin grandchildren, have been a wonderful inspiration and delight, and kept my spirits up when the outlook was bleak. achieve anything is inside you. Don’t wait for the light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.’’
Blair knows this all too well. If he had given up, he would have missed out on using his hard-won experience to become Prima’s office ‘‘ sustainability guru’’ — a role he loves.
‘‘ My wife is so happy that I come home at night with a smile on my face,’’ says Blair.
Knowledge base: Ian Blair was in IT from the very beginning