In today's job market, employers are not just looking for candidates who have technical expertise…
Older Australians account for an increasing share of Australia’s workforce. An estimated 1.9 million Australian workers are 55 to 64 years old and more than 600,000 are older than 65. Both numbers are growing fast across all industries and sectors, but do we have a culture that supports older workers? According to jobseekers and employment agencies, possibly not, hunting for a job over the age of 45 is often considered to be rife with hardship and discrimination.
As Australia’s population ages and working years for the average person increases, organisations need to be prepared and have strategies in place for employing and retaining older employees. The Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Human Resources Institute surveyed human resources professionals and found that age discrimination not only occurs but is widespread, with one in four (27%) people over the age of 50 experiencing age discrimination at work.
Research into employment services for mature age job seekers has also found that the average duration of unemployment for people over the age of 55 is nearly twice as long as for those aged 25–54 and three times as long as for the 15–24 year age. There are lots of reasons why older Australians become unexpectedly unemployed including illness and caring responsibilities. As demonstrated during Covid, older staff are also repeatedly targeted for redundancies during periods of economic downturn. The youngest and oldest cohorts are bearing the brunt of unemployment due to the pandemic. When they are ready to return to the workforce, barriers that they didn’t expect often appear and can force people into early retirement.
Federal Shadow Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones calls it a “silent crisis” and calls for government attention so that older Australians who find themselves out of work before becoming eligible for the Age Pension are not failed by a system that feels “stacked against them”.
So, what can you do to prevent ageism in the recruitment process?
Mind your mindset
For all job seekers, an important part of the job-seeking process is staying positive. Being out of work can affect our self-esteem, our identity, our relationships, and our financial security. In fact, it ranks alongside death, divorce, and illness as one of life’s most stressful events. Working for Everyone has an excellent guide Staying Positive About Job Search with practical information to support your job search wellbeing.
Give your resume a makeover
One of the fastest ways to date a candidate is by the look of their resume. If you are using basic formatting in Times New Roman, chances are you ready for a refresh. While we like to advocate for contemporary formats, it’s still crucial that the document meets the needs of electronic recruitment software and ATS. This means avoiding template resumes, sticking to one column, and avoiding tables.
Skip the objective statement
Opening your resume with a summary of your skills and experience is the modern approach to resume writing. Previously employers were interested in what you wanted as a job seeker whereas today they’re more concerned about who you are and what you can do for them. They’re focused on how you can best add value so make it your job to tell them in 2-3 succinct sentences or a handful of bullet points.
Understand your transferable skills
Skills fall into two categories.
Hard skills – these are job or industry skills gained from experience or training and are sometimes called technical skills.
Soft skills – are the interpersonal attributes you need to succeed in the workplace. They relate to how you work and how you interact with other people. They include interpersonal (people) skills, communication skills, listening skills, time management, and empathy so are sometimes called transferable or employability skills.
It’s great to spend some time thinking about your soft skills and examples from your previous experience that can help you demonstrate your competence. When applying for roles, consider the soft skills required and make sure your resume addresses them and shows the reader why you are a good fit for the role. Some examples of soft skills are:
|Emotional intelligence||Time management|
|Leadership||Critical thinking||Stress management|
Expand your digital literacy
The digital landscape is growing at an incredibly rapid rate so it would be hard to find anyone who couldn’t do with building their digital skills. If this is something that interests you then the Australian Government offers a number of options. Be Connected is an Australian Government initiative aimed at increasing digital technology confidence and skills for people 50 years old. This program is targeted at people with little digital experience.
If you are looking for continued education, Job Trainer might be more appropriate. As part of its economic response to COVID-19, the Australian Government is providing free or low-fee training courses across the nation through its $1 billion Job Trainer Fund. Jobseekers may be eligible to receive free or low-cost training and education to upskill across a wide range of fields.
If you would like some job search support, Successful Resumes is here to help. Our team of writers are located across all corners of Australia and are highly experienced and trained in writing contemporary resumes for job seekers. You can find out more about how we might be able to help your job search by contacting us below.