Thursday 13 December 2012

Am I too old to be employable?

I’ve spoken at a number of conferences directed towards women returners and one of the common questions, especially from those who’ve taken a long career gap, is ‘Am I too old to be employable?’
When I returned to work after my career break, I chose to become self-employed, but it is a common view among women hoping to return to employment that organisations are only looking for younger people or those who have worked their way up a career ladder.  It is easy for us to fear that we are too old and too out of touch, to be considered employable.  We worry that we won’t fit in to the office environment and that our prior experience, expertise and qualifications are no longer relevant. 
Instead of looking at what is missing from our CVs, it is much more helpful to notice what our years of experience, both in and out of the workforce, have given us.  As Michele (who found full-time work in her 50s, following a divorce) says:
‘I was attractive to my new employer because at my age I was reliable, I brought a wealth of different experiences which meant I could talk to anybody and I was serious about my work.  At the same time, I wasn’t going to take his clients and set up on my own.  And, I wasn’t going to get pregnant which made a big difference in a small company’
A recent Harvard Business Review article, which highlighted the concept of internships for returners mention that such internships ‘… allow [companies] to hire people who have a level of maturity and experience not found in younger recruits and who are at a life stage where parental leaves and spousal relocations are most likely behind them.  In short, these applicants are an excellent investment’.  (HBR November 2012 ‘The 40-year-old intern’). 
It is not just in the US that internships exist for returning mid-career women.  In the UK, the financial services industry was one of the first to offer these types of opportunities and since 2010 Red Magazine has arranged month long paid internships at a number of UK companies and with an MP
The internship route is only one of many ways to return to work and we will discuss other ways in later articles.  However we plan to return, we can help ourselves by remembering all the qualities mentioned and we also know that we offer future employers commitment and stability.  We will stay a long time if we enjoy our work and are valued for what we bring to the organisation.

Posted by Katerina 

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