Throughout our lives, career priorities shift. Our age, life stage and big life events have a huge impact on our work life and career choices. At early stages of our careers, the focus may be on progression, finding our niche, making money, status and experimenting. In later stages we may be more likely to focus on making a difference, purpose or legacy. Re-discovering ourselves following impactful life transitions such as marriage, raising children, empty nesting, a global pandemic illness, divorce or the death of loved ones, will also have a profound effect on our career choices and priorities.
As we head into our fifties, it is likely that we have ‘life’ commitments and priorities that already exist; self-care, voluntary work, families, travelling, hobbies, caring responsibilities etc. We may be thinking about changing how we work; working less or changing direction. Perhaps going back to work after a break. The physical and emotional changes that come with hitting fifty will inevitably stop us in tracks, forcing us to take stock and decide what lies ahead for us work-wise. Just powering through is no longer an option.
It is important to stop and take a moment to reflect and decide how you want to work and live from this point onwards. What does success look like for you? How can you find a work / life blend? What do you need from a career at this point in your life? Are you UPsizing or DOWNsizing your career?
The job market is getting tighter at the moment but there’s some great news if you’re 45+ many employers are actively looking for you …
DID YOU KNOW…
There is a female talent brain drain at 30 and 50, so employers NEED you now.
The UK workforce has some interesting ageing demographics and the global pandemic has led to many older employees taking early retirement and in the UK there are fewer younger people entering the UK workforce, so organisations have an imminent talent issue on their hands.
Whilst there is clearly a skill shortage when it comes to technical or digital skills, some of the most in-demand skills are soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, productivity and well-being. It no longer makes sense to call them soft skills; they’re essential for the new world of work and should be called POWER SKILLS. HR leaders and L&D professionals agree these skills give employees power at work. Power to collaborate, power to communicate effectively and power to lead. Our previous experience and our transferable skills from parenting mean the over 50’s have accumulated a lifetime of these skills and can offer them in abundance.
There’s a theory of fluid intelligence vs. crystallized wisdom first proposed by psychologist Raymond Cattell. Fluid intelligence increases in your 20s, 30s and 40s but starts to stall in your 50s. Fluid intelligence involves comprehension, reasoning and problem-solving. Crystallised wisdom increases in your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond and it involves recalling stored knowledge and past experiences.
I like to think of a library. In your early 20 your book collection might cover half of one wall, by your 50s your book are covering almost all 4 walls, your wisdom is cumulative. This means you’re overqualified and great value for money, we’re all interim managers now.
But how can employers effectively engage you and the strengths you can bring to a role whilst catering for your needs too?
Flexible working and job sharing could be the answer
The flexible working movement is really gathering pace. Flexible working comes in many different forms and it can be a great way of continuing to work in your 50s or indeed breaking back into the workplace. You can work flexibly on permanent contracts, interim contracts and non-executive directorships. Flexible working options can include part- time week/days, term time working, holiday time working, annualised hours, career breaks or sabbaticals, flexitime, short- or medium-term contracts or assignments, commissioned outcomes, phased retirement, job sharing, mobile/teleworking and zero commutes to name a few.
Flexible working means you can have a career and a life.
Job sharing can be the ideal solution for you if you have other responsibilities and want to keep your career on track. You and your job share partner can take on challenging roles, which are rarely available part-time. You can arrange your hours to suit your own circumstances. You can fully focus on whatever you do during your time off, confident that emails are still being answered, the work is being done and someone has your back. You can bounce ideas off your partner and utilise each other’s strengths and complimentary skills.
Job sharing is not 2 people working part-time jobs in parallel – that’s part-time work. Job sharing is 2 people, through shared responsibilities, identities and accountability occupying 1 position. They are a single unit, a team and a complete resourcing solution.
What are the benefits?
As well as enabling employers to tap into the over 50s talent pool by providing roles that are suitable for their needs, the benefits of flexible working and job sharing run much deeper.
It’s a great tool to achieve intergenerational alchemy and stop the female talent brain which occurs at 30 and 50, you can job share returning parents and 50+ employees who need some more flex.
As an individual, if you are job sharing, you don’t need to fit into that square job box quite so snugly, because there’s already someone in the role, you think more laterally about the person who will join the job share.
Job share provides the flex that individuals crave and the complete resourcing solution that organisations (think they) need.
How can you find the right opportunities?
In terms of landing a flexible role, you need to be very clear what you want in the first instance. What does success look like to you? What hours or schedule would you prefer to work? What is your preferred role and where can you add real value?
Firstly it’s ALL ABOUT YOU
You need to know WHO you are – what makes you tick, your values, strengths, transferable skills and technical knowledge. You need to know where you are now in terms of location and life stage. Would you like a start-up or a large corporate? Where does your passion lie? www.findmywhy is a great place to start if you need some assistance.
Secondly it’s ALL ABOUT THEM
Decide where you want to work location wise and do some research around this area. Explore organisations around you? Which organisation would you love to work for?
Fine-tune your covering letter and CV to each and every job application. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is awesome and ensure it matches your CV in terms of experience and dates. Get some interview practice before the real thing. Talk about how you can help the employer and not the other way around.
Apply for roles even if you can only do half of the tasks listed. (Men do that, and women don’t!) Think about you and your uniqueness. No one has your story or ever will, or the exact mix of talents that you have or your personality. You are one of a kind!
This article was written by Sarah Taylor Phillips, one of our partner coaches, who helps mid-life women find a new role, get promoted, work more flexibly, get a pay rise, secure an assignment, reduce burnout, keep well and love life. You can get in touch via her profile page.
July 31, 2023