Monday, March 25, 2013


If you have retired for a few years and are now seriously contemplating getting back into the work force for whatever reason, the odds are probably stacked against you in securing the job you want. Once you hit 55 and above, you will encounter age discrimination in the job market. That is the harsh reality of life. Not only will you face stiff competition from younger job applicants, there is also the question of qualifications.

University degrees obtained in the 1960s cannot compare with those obtained today which are so much more specialized and more relevant to the particular job specifications. In the late 1960s, when I was an undergrad in the University of Malaya, the Faculty of Arts at the time offered limited courses in subjects like History, English Literature, Geography, etcetera, almost similar to SPM subjects! Now UM is offering degree courses in Environmental Studies, Media Studies and Township and Urban Planning Studies, just to mention a few. Undergrads today are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting majors.

The same with professional qualifications. A diploma in secretarial studies awarded in the 1960s will probably not equip you with the skills needed in the modern office of today. For one thing, the typewriter is now replaced with the keyboard, and nobody takes shorthand anymore. Office correspondence is increasingly going paperless, and video-conferencing is gaining popularity over boardroom meetings.

So what does all this mean?

You need to upgrade your skills so that you will remain current and relevant. Knowing how to use the computer and the latest office software programs is a necessity. Keeping up to date with industry news and trends is vital if you want to ace the interview. 

Make sure everything on your cv (resume) is true.
As for your cv, do update it, and try to keep it to one A4 size page. Omit mention of anything that is older than 10 years unless it is relevant to the job specifications. As for your personal photo, make sure it is less than a year old. Avoid glamour photos. You don't want to shock your interviewers when you show up looking nothing like the sweet young thing in the photo. 

Whether young or mature job seekers, the same dress code applies. For more tips, click here.

Which brings us next to your interview attire. It is safest to dress casual but smart. Ladies, avoid fashion trends, but don't show up in frumpy auntie clothes either. No chunky jewelry, heavy make-up and badly colored hair. Guys, the same rule of casual smart applies. A neck-tie is fine, but a coat is too formal for Malaysia and Singapore, unless you are applying for a senior management position. You might even make the interviewers feel under-dressed if none of them are wearing a coat! No jeans or T-shirts, please. Make sure your shoes shine. Look confident and poised. Older adults love to talk and share their stories, but keep that to social gatherings, not at interviews. Keep your answers to the point, and if asked to elaborate, stay within the topic.

Having said that, you do have some pluses that might clinch you the job. Your wealth of experience is one of them, that is, provided you are seeking re-employment in the same industry that you retired from. Older workers are known to be generally more committed, more patient and more loyal than younger workers. They don't job-hop, ask for emergency leave frequently or indulge in office politics.

Be prepared to make some adjustments. For one, be prepared to take a slightly lower pay than your last drawn salary. Two, be prepared to swallow your pride as you may be working under a much younger 'boss'. Three, don't expect the same employee benefits you enjoyed previously. This is a different company, and you are considered a new staff recruit. So don't make the mistake of demanding this and that when you haven't even got a toe in the door yet!

Most important of all, ask yourself if this job is really what you want. You must enjoy your work, whether it is full time or part time. Remember, at age 50+, you don't want to stress yourself out by dragging your feet to work. Your take-home pay may boost your retirement savings and take care of the daily essentials, but it should not put your mental and emotional health at risk. It is not worth it. There are other options to explore if you need to grow your nest egg.

For more about re-employment of older workers, click here.

Seniorsaloud regularly receives queries from companies seeking retired persons for specific job vacancies. We shall post them on our FB page, in case some of our readers are interested. 

All the best in your job-hunting!

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