It’s well known that a significant number of older workers want to either stay in or return to the workforce, but getting a new role may not be that easy.
Many mature workers believe the recruitment process is stacked against them and the research backs them up, according to Ernst & Young executive director, advisory, Louise Rolland.
“There’s good emerging research on which groups are more likely to find it difficult to gain employment. Workers on average incomes and those in more manual roles are more likely to find it challenging than those on higher incomes, or in knowledge-based roles,” she says.
“When I was younger, there were a lot more jobs out there and I could almost bet I would have a choice of one or two jobs, but these days it’s a victory if you just get an interview for a job.”
For 55-year-old Warren, who worked for 20 years in senior roles in HR and financial management with the SA Government, finding a new position after a short career break to care for his dying partner is proving to be “daunting”.
Despite his broad management experience, Warren has even tried applying for part-time accounts-payable positions.
His advice to HR professionals and recruiters is simple. “Please look deeper into someone’s résumé than just their recent job titles. The most important thing is to ring the person and ask if they see themselves in that role and why. You may be pleasantly surprised with the response.”
After voluntarily leaving a senior HR role, I enjoyed a self-imposed sabbatical for a few months, and then decided to set about finding a challenging new role.
Having been a senior HR practitioner, I had the benefit of substantial knowledge of the recruitment process and also of knowing many headhunters and senior recruiters, both in the general job market as well as in HR specialist firms.
I initially advised all concerned that while I sought a suitable full-time role, I would also be pleased to consider part-time roles, contracts and project work. The feedback from the headhunters and recruiters mostly started with “You have a terrific CV and you could do most of the jobs that arise with your ‘eyes closed’, but you would be too much of a risk”.
Mystified by this term I queried it, given that with my substantial qualification and experience I would have assumed I presented the opposite to a “risk”. I was more like a safe pair of hands. They often replied that their clients provided a profile and I did not meet this ideal.
When I sought – unsuccessfully – to apply for roles that were at a lower level of HR management, I was told I was not being considered because it was too low-level for me.