Can you make a career move after 45?

Top tips for getting a new job after 45

Last month we featured Pat Duckworth’s new book, ‘Hot Women Rock – How to Discover your Midlife Entrepreneurial Mojo.’ Pat is a passionate believer in following your dreams and finding your path in life in later years. If you have a dream, we say ‘go for it.’

But what about those women who are already in a career they like and just want to make a change or a step up the ladder? What happened to women who are caring for ageing parents of children and want part-time work until they have time to follow their dreams? What if you are happy in other parts of your life and work is just for money, but for whatever reason you need to find a new job?

In these situations, all kinds of self-doubts rise to the surface:

  • They will think I am too old and stuck in my ways – or even past it

  • I will be too expensive

  • They think I will have less energy

  • I will be interviewed by an HR person younger than me

  • My manager might be younger than me

All of this is enough to leave you sweating at the thought of applying and so resigning yourself to the status quo. We say NO! You have a wealth of experience, wisdom, skills and maturity to bring to any business or organisation… and older does not mean too old.


So what can you do to raise your chances?


The killer CV

This is your sales document. These days employers are not able to ask your age, but your qualifications and job dates will generally give it away. So you need to create a CV which will appeal to the generation behind you. Remember the perspective of the reader. They want to know what you bring to their business and not so much what you want in a job. Your CV should focus on your transferable skills, the experience you have and what you think you will bring to the new role.  Everything you say has to be fully relevant to the job. You want the reader saying ‘we need her’ not ‘we better give her a chance for our diversity stats!’


The interview

Impressions count.Remember you have 45 seconds to make an impression. Go for the elegant co-ordinated look. Sassy, classy, never brassy. If the business you are applying to has a lot of young people then certainly buy an outfit which is ‘in style’ but do not try to dress like them. We spoke to one Sassista who applied to a media company and kitted herself up in her daughter’s clothes – only to fall off her wedges as she entered the interview room. Not a good look!

Be prepared to wow.Read the job description and make a list of skills and qualities which will be essential. Examples are communication skills, flexibility, customer service, tenacity, detail consciousness. With your list drawn up, have a story for each one to demonstrate how you have demonstrated the skill in the past. Make sure your story covers the situation, what you did and the outcome. Have lots of stories up your sleeve and you are less likely to get stressed.

Address the elephants in the room:There is no doubt that there will be doubts in the minds of some younger interviewers. They might be wondering if you are going to want a higher than range salary; if you are just getting ready to retire and this is a ‘last job’; if you are too set in your ways to learn; if you will have health issues; if you will have insufficient energy. But they will not ask you for fear of falling foul of employment law. If your gut feels tells you there are hidden doubts, then call them out. Either ensure you counteract these doubts by planting statements such as ‘The challenge and interest of a job is more important to me than money’; ‘I love learning, and every job requires you to flex and grow’; ‘I have not had a day off work in three years.’ If you are very sassy, you will point to the ‘elephant’ and state that you understand they might have questions about your age, flexibility, health etc. and you are very happy to answer them. You will impress them with honesty.

Know their world.Today’s business is moving ever faster into technology. You should be on LinkedIn and using it. Then you need to know about Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of which are used in business marketing. Likewise, you need to study their website to see how they interact with their customers, their products, their history. If they have brand values, think about how you live these. The more you talk their talk, the faster you will be seen to just fit in.

Have questions ready. One of the big interview sins is to have nothing to say at the end. You should be ready with a few questions but not about the salary, vacation limits or sickness leave policy.  Good questions ask about the business strategy, something you saw on the website which intrigued you, whether the business does any community work. Finish with an interesting question which cements your interest in their business.


Going for a new job is, for most of us, quite stressful. We are laying ourselves open for judgement and comparison to others. But remember Sasssitas, you have a lifetime of wisdom, learning and experience to offer. Be proud and confident.

Next article will look at those aspects of selection which put the fear of God into many – the three Ps - psychometrics, presentations and panel interviews.

If you have any career move ideas you would like us to look into, please get in touch. One of our panel is an occupational psychologist with 20 years’ experience of designing selection processes. She can help if you ask.


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