The chance of changing careers when you’re an over 50 jobseeker is as likely as George Clooney being without a date on a Saturday night.
At least, that’s what many people think.
But not “Sharyne” who has done just that.
Sharyne is a determined, career-minded woman who at 53, relinquished a lucrative career as a General Manager in favour of a different life. As a senior manager her career was busy, involved, exciting and challenging… and now was the right time to get off the roundabout and seek a less stressful existence.
For those who have never tried, downsizing from a leadership role is every bit as challenging as trying to reach for a management job when you’ve never had one. There are always objections and in the situation of downsizing, you are always looked upon with suspicion. People can’t believe you are giving up a well-paying job for a lesser one and prefer to think that you’re in some way burned out, unsuccessful or have done something that prevents you from a “better role”. Competitors will be the right demographic and tick all the boxes, and it is obvious where employers’ investments will go as the “sell” for the recruiting firm is easier.
More than 30 applications through the SEEK job board in Australia in a month, had yielded little in the way of results. Sharyne was told she was too expensive, or too experienced. For one job, she progressed to three interviews, but the final, with the HR Manager of the company, put an end to that dream. According to Sharyne the interviewer seemed personally intimidated by her experience.
Sharyne decided it was time to try something new.
Instead of endlessly applying for jobs and being one of hundreds to respond, Sharyne decided to be proactive and use her network of contacts. This way, she could approach people who knew her and had confidence in her abilities. If one of them had a job, or knew of a job coming up, then she would be in the enviable position of being the sole candidate, and not one of many who may fit the demographic for the role.
Now on her new mission, Sharyne reached out to her network, one of whom was a lawyer she had worked with at her prior company. He knew Sharyne; knew the way she worked and could see how she could be an asset to his business. Within weeks, Sharyne was working as his legal assistant capitalising on commercial legal experience she had acquired years before.
From General Manager to Legal Assistant at age 53. All it took was a willingness to think outside the traditional job search methods and consider the power of networking.
Sharyne is now in a job she loves, is challenged sufficiently without being run into the ground, and salary-wise there is room to move.
Her optimism and confidence, as well as her willingness to try networking to help her change career paths, have not let her down.
As she says,
“I never despaired about securing a new position. I was confident that I had the skills and experience needed to be effective in an assistant role. I also understood that age alone is not a barrier and that my ongoing professional development would ensure I had the contemporary knowledge to remain relevant in today’s business environment”.
The fact is, mature employees are highly valued. Their work ethic is sound, and many who are ’empty nesters’ don’t have the problems surrounding parental leave and reliability.
If you think you can’t be a successful over 50’s jobseeker, think again. If you think being over 50 and a career changer is impossible, just ask Sharyne.
She’d beg to differ.