Changing careers in midlife

Rachel Carlyle

If you've been made redundant at 55, should you stick to the job you know and try to get something in that field?

Possibly, say the experts, but use the time to take stock and decide what you really want out of the rest of your working life.

"I find the most difficult job-seekers to place are former executives who have been made redundant," says Jill Barnes, who set up the 40-Plus recruitment company in Oxfordshire.

"They need to face the fact that they won't match their former executive salary - at least not in the short term.

"I'd say to a man in that position, you're 58 and you're not a director any more. There will be a job out there for you, but you will have to compromise."

Read our CV writing tips.

Keep an open mind

She finds many people use the opportunity to change tack altogether, and advises keeping an open mind.

"It can be difficult persuading an employer that an ex-managing director will be happy being a van driver, but the fact is, many are. I placed one recently and he loves it.

"Money is not the major motivating factor for most 60-year-olds, unless they have wives with young children."

Smaller companies value experience

She finds smaller companies are generally much more willing to take on older people than bigger ones, because they prize the loyalty and range of skills an older employee will have.

"A common mistake people make when they are made redundant at 55 is to think they'll use their contacts and become a consultant," adds Barry Badham. "But I have to tell them it never works.

"I've had people convinced they'll be inundated with calls, but they never come. They're on a road to nowhere - once you leave a job, that's it usually. The market for consultants in most industries is tiny or non-existent."

Read our job hunting tips for the over-50s.

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