Many teachers 50+ are concerned about making a career change after 50 because they
think they will be disadvantaged by their age. Is this a valid concern?
Unfortunately, it probably is. Even when attitudes are changing and diversity and inclusivity are valued, according to several studies, ageism in the workplace still appears to be alive and well.
Although being illegal for many years in a lot of countries, according to a 2021 United Nations report, age discrimination in the workplace still exists but how prevalent it is, will depend on your location and the type of industry. A survey conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission, also in 2021 found that 83% of respondents believed that ageism was a problem. In a survey of adults in USA over age 45 by AARP,” 61% of respondents said they have either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace and 38% of those believe the practice is “very common.”
Due to changing life expectancy In many countries the official retirement age has increased to 67. This is usually the age when you can claim government benefits, in some countries such as Australia and UK this is the case. If we assume that the average life expectancy for females is 86 and males 83 this means that if you retire at 67 you will live for another 19 or 16 years which is roughly 20% of your life.
We all know that 50 is not old, and neither is 60. We’d like to think that stereotypes and old ways of thinking have changed, unfortunately it seems not.
If you are 55 or older it’s time to bust the stereotypes which are obviously not true.
Some of the most common stereotypes of employees aged above 55 include being resistant to change; avoiding career development; not sharing their knowledge and won’t be there for long.
You can use your resume and cover letter to demonstrate that these stereotypes don’t apply to you. the length of time you intend to stay there should no longer be relevant. Younger people change jobs frequently these days the fact that you ‘might’ retire in 5 or 10 years shouldn’t be a problem. Some employers will value you for your experience, loyalty and reliability others may think you are too expensive.
Tips to overcome age discrimination when changing careers
So, there’s no denying that ageism is an issue and stereotypes exist. Although you can’t change this, there are some things you can do to help yourself. The most important is to focus on the things you can control—your own beliefs and skills, and how you sell them.
Remember the saying ‘you’re only as old as you feel’? The first thing is to think about is what your age means to you. If you think that being older means that you've somehow passed your use-by-date, then you're going to share that belief with potential employers.
Let’s look at the positives instead! What do you have to offer? Your experience, maturity, wisdom, your ability to mentor others. Consider all the different people you’ve worked with, knowledge and skills you’ve acquired, changes you’ve experienced. And then think about how you can emphasise the value in these to a potential employer.
When you truly believe that your age is an asset, you’ll be better equipped to sell yourself to future employers.
If you’re worried that your skills are outdated then update them . Keep on top of current trends and technology to increase your confidence and minimise these possible roadblocks to your success.
2.. Get really clear on the career you want and focus on that.
Do some serious self-discovery and get really clear on the career you want and focus on that. Find something you are passionate about. What you are passionate about will shine through. Simon Sinek talks a lot about finding your passion and I believe it was Simon Sinek who said that you can teach someone the skills but not passion or attitude.
If we don’t spend some time finding out who we are, what we have to offer a new employer as well as what we want from our new career, we run the risk of finding another career that we are not happy with.
You will save so much time in the long run if you initially invest some time to discover your purpose, values, beliefs, passions, strengths before jumping into career search. If you need some help with this Getting Started with Career Change for Teachers is an introductory online course which looks at all of the factors I mentioned above. It will help you discover meaningful careers that will suit you and develop a career path to your ideal job. It's a step-by-step guide that will reduce your overwhelm and increase your confidence. Find out more here
3. Be prepared to learn new skills
Are there any gaps between your current skills and experience and the skills the new career requires?
When you have done your self-discovery and have created a clear career path you’ll be able to identify what skills you need to be competitive and find some courses that will help you achieve this. There are many short and free or inexpensive courses online that will provide you with the skills you need, especially if you need to update your computer skills or learn to use different software. Look on LinkedIn, Udemy or Coursera for a course that works for you.
If you need experience, think of creative ways in which you get this from volunteering or internships or taking a low entry-level position.
4. Identify your transferable skills
As an older career changer, you may have more skills and knowledge than you realise. Make a list of all the skills you used during your teaching career and then work out how they relate to the job you are applying for. You’ll then need to translate your ‘education’ language into language that your prospective employer will understand.
As teachers, we often think the only thing we can do is teach but a teachers’ role encompasses far more than teaching. Teachers use planning and organization skills, problem-solving, time management, critical thinking, multi-tasking, building relationships and many others. All these skills mentioned are highly transferable to a range of other occupations such as project management, administration, change management and lots more.
It is interesting that as well las teachers, their potential new employers also think that teaching is the only skill that teacher have.
The key here is not to expect the potential employer to know what the skills of any job you have done are. That’s why you have to spell it out for them and in language that they will understand.
5. Know your Strengths
Like transferable skills, strengths are also important in the career change process, especially when considering what your next career will be.
Make sure that you know what your strengths are and that you can articulate them clearly. Knowing what you are good at, and using it, is the key to your success.
Research conducted by Gallup found that people who used their strengths in their work were more motivated, more productive, happier at work and less likely to quit their jobs. Knowing your strengths will help you in the job application process and give you the confidence you need.
Many people find it difficult to identify their own strengths. If this is you, check out this blog post for more information on strengths and how to identify them. You can also get access to a free strengths quiz here.
There are some strategies you can use on your resume to ‘hide’ your age. Be selective with how you use dates, so it is not easy for the employer to work out your age from the information you provide.
· write your date of birth!
· put dates next to qualifications obtained a long time ago
· say what year you finished school or university
· list jobs you had decades ago.
What you should include are details of your skills and experience that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
For more information on what to include on your resume check out Resumes and Cover Letters for Teachers here.
7. Network, network, network
80 % of jobs are found through connections. If you’re not on LinkedIn yet, create a profile and start connecting with people who work in the career you have in mind. Ask them questions about how they found their job, what courses they did, what skills they use etc
When job searching, look for companies whose employees reflect age diversity. You may be able to find staff photos on their website or the company may describe their policies
8 Have confidence in yourself.
It’s easy to be scared of failing at something new. That’s why many people stay in the same job even if it doesn’t make them happy. But if you go for a role you love, you will be bringing with you positivity and passion: two highly valuable qualities employers look for in candidates.
You can improve your confidence by following these 8 steps.
Above all adopt the mindset that Age isn’t a barrier to changing careers: it can be a blessing! As long as you’re passionate about what you’re pursuing and open to learning and growing, you can succeed.
Career change is a process
The best way to approach a career change is to think of it as a process. If you are considering a career change because you are unhappy in your current job, set your goals and if possible, stay in the job as you take steps towards your goals. Take a course to learn the skills you need while still working in your old job, if you can. This will move you closer to your goal and save you time when you quit.
You will discover that the process of changing careers can be transformative, and by the time you achieve your career goal, you will have learnt a lot about yourself and feel like a new person.
If you would like some support in this process, I would love to help you. You can contact me here to schedule a 15-minute call to have a chat about how I can help you.