How to find a job as an older worker

As a mature-age worker, you may be worried about facing prejudice in your job hunt... What if a potential employer thinks you'll be less adaptable or less able due to your age? 

While the Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA) prohibits age-related discrimination in the hiring process, this type of discriminatory behaviour is not always obvious or direct, so it can be difficult to identify and eliminate. For example, an employer may disregard a mature-age worker because they won’t “fit in” with their other, younger employees.

Alternatively, maybe you've decided to change your career later in life or are looking to re-enter the workforce after a break and don't know where to start.

In this blog, we provide a number of tips to help you overcome some of the challenges associated with being a mature-age candidate. Because, in reality, as an older worker you have a lot to offer potential employers. Certain skills can take years to develop. Plus, you will bring a wealth of personal and professional experience with you into your new role.

How to find a job as a mature-age worker

Upskill yourself

Our first tip is to upskill yourself.

Upskilling is the process of continued professional development and training that involves:

  • Advancing your current skills to stay up-to-date with your industry;
  • Developing new skills; and
  • Filling knowledge gaps.

Top Resume advises mature-age workers keep up to date through ongoing upskilling. Most importantly, in areas that are constantly changing and evolving, such as technology.


But where do you start?

Firstly, you need to identify which skills you want to work on based on what will help you the most in your job hunt. As a mature-age worker, it may be difficult to know where to start.

In Australia, there are two tools you may wish to utilise when looking for areas to upskill in.

  • Firstly, the JobOutlook Explore Australia tool lets you discover how the jobs in demand are changing in your area. You can explore the projected employment growth for the top jobs as well as see the in-demand skills. These in-demand skills are important to pay attention to in terms of upskilling, particularly if you are looking to change jobs within the same industry.
  • The second tool is the JobOutlook Future Outlook tool. This tool explores the jobs available now and in the future. It defines the skills needed for the jobs you want and what jobs suit you and your interests. This tool is ideal for a mature-aged worker looking to change industries or re-enter the workforce after a break.

Once you have identified relevant skills, you then need to decide how you will go about improving them.

In Australia, you can find local training/courses through the MySkills and CourseSeeker websites. These sites show you what training is available locally, plus they provide cost estimates and timeframes.

Registered training isn’t the only way you can upskill – you can also learn while you earn. Consider trying part-time, casual, contract, or temp work as another way to keep your skills up to date while you search for your dream job.

Other ways to upskill include:

  • Offering coaching, mentoring or tutoring;
  • Offering consulting ; and
  • Volunteering.
Where to start as a mature aged worker

Update your CV

Our second tip for the mature-age worker is to keep your CV up-to-date.

If you are currently employed, make sure you continually add professional achievements and duties to your CV. Hence, when the time comes to apply for jobs, you are not starting from scratch.

If you haven’t touched your CV for years, it can be challenging to know where to start. We suggest you:

  • Try to limit your employment history to the last 10-15 years if possible. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone. If you have taken a career break and your most recent work experience was a while ago, still include it. Again, this applies to any notable achievements or experience that was more than 15 years ago. Don’t sell yourself short.
  • Keep your CV as age-neutral as possible by removing dates. You don’t need to include dates for degrees, certification, or training. Of course, there are some exceptions to this, for instance, a certification that is only valid for a set period.
  • Include any upskilling you engaged in during career breaks - remember, it doesn’t just have to be registered training to count as upskilling.
  • Include reasons for gaps in employment in your cover letter.

Be flexible

Adaptability is crucial when making a career change. This is especially true for mature-age workers who may need to accept a lower-level position than they were in previously.

Therefore, our third tip is to be flexible – and to demonstrate your flexibility to potential employers.

Show that you are willing to adapt to a new role and that you are excited to learn new skills. Reference any relevant upskilling you have undertaken as evidence of this.

Flexibility for mature-aged workers

Prepare for your interviews

Flexibility also applies to the interview questions. While it is illegal to discriminate based on age, you still need to watch out for subtle age-related questions.

We have compiled a list of common interview questions and how to handle them as a mature-age worker according to Jeff Haden at Inc.com and Top Resume:

  • How do you feel about working for a manager younger than you?
    Being a mature-age worker, it is not unlikely that you will have worked for someone younger than yourself in the past. Be honest and respectful in your response. Emphasise your ability to work hard, follow instructions and be open-minded, regardless of who your superior is.
  • Why are you leaving your current role?
    Don’t bad-mouth your previous workplace. If you are moving on due to redundancy, tell the interviewer this, but focus on the positives you brought to your last role and how you will bring them to your new role.
  • What do you consider to be your greatest professional achievement?
    When answering this question, pick something relevant to the job you are applying for. If you are switching industries or roles, it may not be as easy. Adjust your achievement so that it focuses on the key selection criteria of the job description. For example, if it is a customer service-based role but you have limited experience, talk about how you maintained relationships with colleagues or suppliers to improve company efficiency.

To learn more about how you can make a great impression during interviews, check out our recent blog, don't let this person reject you.

Interview as a mature-age worker

Job hunting tips & advice

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