adult and child walking in a forest together with sunbeams coming through the trees

How to get a great job as an older adult

The jobs market can be a tough place for older adults looking for work, with many employers tending to favour younger candidates. A recent poll for the Centre for Ageing Better found that almost a third of older job applicants believed they had been turned down for a job because of their age, and nearly one in five had or had considered hiding their age when applying for a job.

The government has been accused of failing to enforce age discrimination laws, with the result that more than a million people aged over 50 are being locked out of the workplace, as claimed by The Independent. According to MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee, these people “are being wasted because of discrimination, bias and outdated employment practices”.

These stats are incredibly alarming, especially considering that the UK’s workforce is getting older. An Aviva survey from May 2019 estimated that one third of all employees will be 50+ in the next decade. Life is getting longer, career patterns are changing and businesses need to adapt to this.

At Koru Kids, we recognise how valuable the life experience of older adults is in the workplace. We’re doing our best to harness the talent and potential of this group by actively recruiting over 50s to become after school nannies.

Jenna, Koru Kids’ researcher, spends much of her time meeting older adults who have applied to become, or who have already become nannies:

“I often hear a lack of confidence stemming from the cut-throat nature of the London jobs market where you can be aggressively compared to younger applicants or queried on a gap in your CV. A ten-year gap in a CV to raise a child is a positive for Koru Kids – but not all employers see it this way.”

Jenna, Koru Kids

If this sounds like you, we’ve put together some great practical tips to help you approach interviews with more confidence and make the whole process of finding a new job feel less daunting:

1. Be prepared

Preparation is everything when it comes to applying for jobs. James Adams, our Head of Talent at Koru Kids, stresses that one of the main reasons interviews can be so intimidating is because you can feel as though you’re not in control of the process. So the more you can find out about the interview before it happens, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Ask about the content, format and timing of the interview in advance so you know ahead of time who will be there and what kind of questions you’ll be asked.

It’s important to arm yourself with as much information as possible before the interview, about the company and the role itself. Make sure to review the job spec, identifying what knowledge, skill or behaviour each line is asking for. For example, are they looking for evidence of organisational or communication skills, the ability to work as part of a team, a willingness to learn and grow etc.

Once you’ve pulled out all of the important requirements, think of examples from your own life or past experience that demonstrate that quality. If you can’t think of an example, think about how you could show you’d be able and willing to learn. If possible, try role-playing the interview beforehand with a friend or relative. 

As well as the job spec, also take some time to read through the company’s website, especially their ‘About Us’ page so you can understand where they are coming from. Give them a Google to see if there are any recent articles about them in the news. And make sure you prepare questions to ask your interviewers during the interview. Come up with more questions than you think you’ll need (it’s likely some will be covered during the interview).

Some good things to think about when coming up with questions are: the direction of the company, threats to the business, and risks to the wider industry, new releases and initiatives, who their competitors are, what your main objectives would be if you were to work for them, etc. Most importantly, show that you are passionate about the company and their mission.

2. Dress smartly and simply

It can be easy to overthink what you’re going to wear to the interview, but if you dress smartly and simply, you won’t go far wrong. Here is The Fine Line’s take on it:

“Unless you’re interviewing for old-money positions in, say, finance or banking, you may not need to wear a business suit. Many companies today embrace business casual, and if you’re interviewing for a job in a sphere like technology or communications, you don’t want to look as though you don’t fit the modern, casual culture. You do want to dress a bit more professional than the average employee, because you’re looking to stand out and impress your interviewers. To look professional for your interview, pair slacks with a blouse or skirt, or wear a dress. Do not wear jeans, a crop top, T-shirt, or tank top… during a job interview, you don’t want to be remembered by your outfit; you want to be remembered by your resume and personality.”

The Fine Line

The same advice holds true for men. Aim to dress appropriately by wearing clothes a little more professional than the average employee. If most employees wear T-shirts to work, opt for a collared shirt instead. And if in doubt, wear a suit.

3. Own your experience

Don’t downplay your skills and experience. Your age will bring insight and new perspective to the company and as such should be viewed as a valuable asset. Be confident and speak about your achievements but remember to be humble, and acknowledge that there is a lot you can still learn.

If you are returning from a long period out of work, be upfront and direct about this. There is absolutely no need to apologise for taking time out of work to raise a family for example. Some employers like Koru Kids will even see this as valuable experience.

In the interview itself, be clear on your situation and your expectations from the role – when you’d be able to start, what you’re looking to achieve and what you’d expect in terms of salary.

Remember to take time answering questions. Pausing and taking a breath before answering can be an effective tactic so you don’t feel rushed. If you can’t think of an answer, ask to move on and return to the question later.

4. Is it a video interview?

If you have a video interview, make sure you find a suitable location, with no background noise and appropriate surroundings (ie. not a public place or a messy bedroom!). It’s a good idea to get comfortable with the format and do a test-run to make sure everything’s working properly. And remember it’s still important to dress the part – you’ll be on camera, after all.

Believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities – all your life experiences count for a lot and many employers would be lucky to have you. Good luck!

Koru Kids is building the world’s best childcare service and we’re looking for older adults in London who are interested in becoming after school nannies. 

Related articles