One reason those in our 50s can struggle to get the next job is due to our professional qualifications being dated. We rely too much on courses taken 20 or more years ago. What’s relevant changes, and we need to be able to use best practice to guide our work.
We may expect this to be something we can leave to our employers, but training budgets are more limited and it’s expected that we take ownership for our careers.
Read on for six tips to stay employable.
1. Be clear on what learning will help you stay employable
Let’s be pragmatic; you want to make sure that any learning you undertake will increase your chance of keeping your job or getting a new one. It may be that you want to get professionally qualified, but more likely it will be shorter courses that can be seen as continuing professional development (CPD).
I find that my clients aged 50+ who are most successful in getting a promotion/new job are the ones that stay on top of the new developments in their area of expertise and are clear on how they can add value to an employer.
The people who expect their employers to take responsibility for their development, or who think they’re just paid to do their job, have struggled more.
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2. Seek development opportunities at work
Many employers think that beyond a certain age we aren’t interested in attending courses and other learning activities, so make it known that you are keen.
Volunteer to get involved in new activities and make sure your boss knows you are interested in any courses on offer.
Ask a professional colleague how you can be of help to them. By listening to their questions it can help deepen our own knowledge.
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3. Develop new skills
You know what you are good at, but are these skills still in demand? Check out the skills that are most desirable and look for ways to develop them.
You may need to become more proficient in using Excel, or to become more savvy with social media. What’s hot in your industry?
4. Keep up-to-date
In all industries we can keep current on news in our industry or sector. Be sure to read the business pages and industry magazines, such as Accountancy Age or The Caterer.
You can also create your own database of news sites that have relevant news. For many, this will include the Financial Times – it’s not just for directors.
As a middle-manager psychologist I used to read both the Harvard Business Review and The Economist to give me an edge over other psychologists through developing a stronger business focus.
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5. Choose the right course
You could find a great course at your local college but also consider the many free and very low-cost courses available for you to take online. You may like to consider:
- TED talks.
- The Open Education Consortium – you can access hundreds of courses from universities including law, science and business strategy.
- YouTube – offers a large number of instructional videos to help you learn specific skills.
- edX – a particular favourite of mine.
It’s not just taking business courses, learn a foreign language or go to dance classes. These, and similar will demonstrate that you are able to learn new things, and keep your mind sharp too.
6. Learn through volunteering
If you are out of work, use some of this time on voluntary work to enhance your CV and develop more skills. You could offer help to a non-profit organisation in your area.
This doesn’t have to be in a charity shop, unless that’s what you want, but there could be backroom work, computer systems or marketing that you could help with.
Learning is fun, so from these six tips, what will you do now to keep yourself employable?
Denise Taylor is an award winning career psychologist, personal branding strategist and author. Cutting-edge innovative careers coaching. Denise is the author of "You’re Hired: Find Work at 50+" by Trotman, £12.99. Find Denise at www.amazingpeople.co.uk.
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