Thursday, 30 September 2010

Careers advice: Helping you negotiate the jobs market roller coaster


I wonder if you think my age (57) could be a stumbling block when I apply for positions. I am more than capable of taking on new challenges but rarely get the opportunity. Diane, Neath

How do you get employers to view your CV when you are 50+? In the initial recruitment selection, employers reject anyone in this category.

Freddie, via email

These are just two of several letters I received from readers worried that their age was getting in the way of them finding a job. Their concerns represent a nasty side effect of the recession – despite all the focus on young people, a disproportionate number of older workers are unemployed and many are struggling to get back into work following redundancy, according to The Age and Employment Network.

However, there are several things Diane and Freddie should be doing to give themselves the best chance of finding a job, regardless of their age.

In Diane’s case, your CV is three pages long and extremely detailed. CVs should usually be a maximum of two pages. In the “key skills” section, you list 24 things you can do, but without providing examples of what they are or why they matter. Any employer looking at this long list would be overwhelmed by what it is you’re trying to tell them. For example, you list “merchandising” and “display building” but without explaining what you achieved in this area. You also list far more mundane skills like “text and photo on a mobile phone”. Who can’t do this these days?

I would pick out five key skills that really do set you apart from the rest (play on your experience if you can) and provide examples of your successes.

Next you must tailor your CV. It looks like you’ve got a wealth of experience in the retail industry, but rather than simply list job titles and dates, I would expand on a couple of roles which you feel would be most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Employers can afford to be choosy – your application must tell them why you’re the most suitable candidate.

If all else fails, Freddie, remove your age from your CV. It’s illegal for any employer to ask for it.

The renewables sector is set to create tens of thousands of jobs over the next few years. But very few recruitment agencies have job listings for the growing micro renewables industry, with sections covering solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, biomass, heat pumps and wind.

Eric, Dorset

The micro renewables industry – which designs devices that generate energy on a small scale – is still in its infancy, according to the big recruitment firms.

However, if you want work in this area you should be proactive and register with the big agencies like Reed, Hays or Kellysearch. As Mark Stuart, a business manager at Reed, says: “The micro renewables sector is not on a massive recruitment drive. But when roles do come up, individuals who have registered interest with us will be the first port of call on our database.”

It’s also worth targeting employers you are interested in with speculative applications, detailing what you can offer and asking to meet for a chat about opportunities.

Don’t forget to use online search engines to find out about jobs. is a neat little search firm which focuses on placing people in green jobs. Right now it is advertising for engineers and software developers.

Email your career question to or visit for more answers.

Taken from the Daily Telegraph

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