Job Hunting for Mature Workers

Not ready to retire yet? Here’s how to get an employer’s attention and prove that a mature worker is who they need.

Not everyone retires early.

Ask Peg Beaton, a facilitator for the Wealth of Experience program at Parkland Regional College in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. “Most of us don’t have [enough] savings, or what we have won’t meet our needs,” she says. “Very few people can retire on their retirement plans.”

From her experience with the 55- to 64-year-old participants in the federally and provincially funded Targeted Initiative for Older Workers, she has the following advice on how to re-enter the job market:

  1. Eighty per cent of jobs are not advertised.
    Decide where you want to work, then market yourself to that employer through an information-gathering interview. Call a human resources representative or department head to learn about their company and find out whether you’d like to work for them.

    “Often they will end up interviewing you because they like your attitude,” Beaton says. “You’re in control, and if they like what they see, they may ask you for a resumé. It’s a way of tapping the hidden job market.”

  2. A traditional resumé that lists employment history by year can give away your age.
    “If we do it chronologically, they might know how old we are,” says Beaton, 63.

    Instead, prepare a functional resumé focusing on the personal attributes and skills that are relevant to the job you want (see How to write a resumé for further details).

    Use headings that describe a skill – customer service, bookkeeping, operating heavy equipment and so on – rather than listing job titles. Under each heading, list the relevant work experience and the number of years you held the position, but leave out actual dates.

    What if you held a job for 25 years? “Just say you did it for over 20 years and leave it at that,” Beaton laughs. “A resumé should not give any indication of how old you are. Otherwise it can hit the garbage before you get an interview.”

  3. During face time with potential employers, emphasize the advantages that come with age.
    Tell them that as an older worker, you have an excellent work ethic, are experienced, do not take time off and can focus on the job at hand because you are not juggling family commitments such as young children.

    Experienced workers also require far less training than younger workers. Beaton agrees that a strong background often translates into significant savings for the company. “Mature workers cost less money for the employer than the X or Y generations.”