Job hunting can be stressful and challenging, no matter where you are in your career.
But what if you’re over 50? What then? What do you need to do differently to find a new job.
I interviewed project manager Melanie Haydon in my series of Career Conversations to celebrate the launch of the Career Club.
I created the series to give you a taster of what to expect inside the online membership community that will help you make your next career move.
Get involved with the Career Conversations in the pop-up Facebook group. You can listen to the interviews live or catch up on the recordings after the event. After January, the recordings will move inside the Career Club, accessible to members only.
Melanie’s career background
Melanie now works as a project manager at Southampton University in their Change Portfolio Office, supporting their strategic change and transformation projects – for example new buildings, equality charter submissions, etc.
Completely different to her project management background in IT project management and HR transformation projects.
Prior to joining the University last year, she spent 3.5 years working as IT project manager in a UK law firm.
What prompted Melanie to change sector?
Working at the law firm, Melanie had a two hour commute each way (whereas now she has a 40 minute drive to work).
Aged 50+, she realised that she’d had enough of the high stress, high stakes roles that you get working for a City law firm.
She decided that she wanted a different balance between work and life in the latter stages of her career.
Melanie’s experience of the age stigma
In my work I often hear stories of older women with years of experience who’ve had to work much harder to overcome the barriers. Yes it’s tough. No it’s not fair.
But it’s not every employer or recruiter who works in this blinkered way.
In Melanie’s experience, what created more challenges was the fact that she’s been doing project management since the 1990s when there were no formal qualifications.
Despite 30 years of experience, when Melanie applied for project management roles in different sectors, she didn’t meet the essential tick-in-the-box “project management certification criteria” thus falling at the first hurdle.
She noticed that this happened particularly when applying for roles through an agency so her strategy was to apply directly to employers. She then reached out to the named contact to specifically check “I don’t have PRINCE2, how will that affect my application”.
What helped Melanie’s job search
What Melanie found most helpful in her job search over 50 and moving from one sector to another was:
- Get to know the sector and the hot topics in that sector.
- Talk to somebody in that sector and ideally somebody in that specific organisation.
- Take time think about how your previous skills and experience are transferable and relatable to the new sector .
- Reach out directly to the hiring manager to get their feedback before applying.
- Take time over the application, don’t rush it.
- At the interview stage, be honest about your experience.
Melanie’s other job hunting tips
- Deal with the elephant in the room if you are ‘downsizing’ in terms of role and salary. Explain why you are interested in the role.
- Tailor the application and your CV to the specific role.
- Demonstrate your enthusiasm and how you will make a contribution.
- Do your preparation on the sector, the employer and what the interview will include.
If you enjoyed Melanie’s story, join us for more job hunting stories in the Career Conversations group.
Listen to the interviews live or catch up on the recordings afterwards (and no sign-up required).
p.s. if you are currently job hunting and would like practical and personal support so that you get the right job with the right salary, check out the Career Club online membership community, on offer until 31 January. Join now for £29 per month instead of £49 per month.