Published October 27, 2020
How to Get Work Experience at 40 and Over
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Are you a more mature worker looking for a career change or to reenter the workforce after an extended break? Obtaining some work experience in your industry of interest is highly regarded by prospective employers, no matter your age!
It’s no secret that Australians want to work! An increasing percentage of workers in Australia work well past 40. A further 45% will work past the ‘national average’ age of retirement of 55. In fact, in 2019 most workers intended to retire at 65 or older! If you’re now 40, this is a whole 25 years into the future. 25 years is a long time to dedicate to a job – especially one that you don’t love.
Question: If you were 25 again, would you stay in your current job that’s leaving you unfulfilled, bored, or unhappy until you’re 50?
The (Right) Answer: No!
So, let’s adopt the same attitude as your 25-year-old self, shall we? Meeting your career goals via a career change, whether it be through volunteer work, an internship, or shadowing someone for a few days is a great first step!
Work Experience at 40: Why and How?
Work experience at 40 and over is no different from when you’re 20-something. It’s the opportunity for career changers to experience a new environment, observe work expectations and learn new skills required to thrive in their new role.
Comparing your circumstances to your younger co-workers can be discouraging. However, you have what many young professionals do not – life experience. Furthermore, you probably have numerous transferable skills you’re unaware of that will help ease the process of changing careers
If you’re thinking of entering an entirely new field of work, the required skill set will most likely be very different from your current career. Similarly, if you’re returning to work after an extended break, the job you used to have may look very different now from what it did back then!
Work experience helps you bridge the gap from the old to the new. You can identify the skill set required for your new career path while receiving the opportunity to develop these new skills in a safe, hands-on environment.
Furthermore, completing work experience prior to landing a more permanent role in a new industry allows you to consider whether the job is really for you.
- Do you enjoy the work?
- Are there aspects of the role you didn’t expect?
- Would you like to work part-time or full-time?
- Is the work environment pleasant? Is it stressful?
- Could this career move improve your work-life balance?
You may receive confirmation that you really do love your new career pathway, or you may discover new opportunities you were unaware of! So, where do you go from here?
Getting Started: It’s All Online
The world has moved online, and finding and applying to new job opportunities is no different. Even most volunteer roles and internship opportunities now follow an electronic application process. Many businesses advertise vacant positions on ‘job search‘ websites such as Seek.com, Jora Australia, and BeNext. Some roles may even be specifically advertised on social media.
Although these websites are great for finding opportunities on the job market, we suggest applying to your chosen roles via each organisation’s own Careers Portal, (usually found on their website) if possible. Many of the listings found on larger, general websites incur thousands of applications. By applying for the role via the company’s personal careers portal, you’ll increase your application’s visibility.
Due to the application process of most work opportunities having moved online, your most updated CV and cover letter will need to be electronically formatted to the specifications of the application instructions. This will help improve your application’s chances of being considered for an interview and a possible new role.
Work Experience at 40 Years and Older
There are 3 primary forms of work experience:
- Volunteering roles
The type of work you’re looking to get into will determine which form of ‘work experience’ is most appropriate. For example, an internship is more suitable for a corporate-based role, whereas, a volunteering position may be more suitable for a new career in a caregiving role (e.g. childcare, education, aged care, or animal care). For those of you looking to enter the service industry or trade, applying for mature-aged apprenticeship opportunities is a logical first step.
Where Do I Find These Work Experience Opportunities?
As mentioned above, many job-listing websites also list internships, volunteering, and apprenticeship opportunities. Some organisations even offer opportunities specifically for mature-aged workers. However, other resources worth consultation include:
- Alumni associations (high school, university, old clubs)
- Local community notice boards, newspaper listings, and website listings
- Family, friends, friends-of-friends, old work colleagues, etc.
- Initiating direct personal contact with organisations via listed details (phone numbers, emails)
Your goal when consulting these more personable resources is to establish a professional association with someone who can help you. Networking with people who may be able to give you a “leg-up” is valuable and often a more streamlined way to initiate a career transition.
A personal approach doesn’t have to be through an already established connection, either. When possible, directly contacting the organisation you’re applying for will give you an edge against many applicants who choose to stick to the generic online process. Many online listings on organisation websites will offer some form of contact information for the hiring manager. We highly recommend emailing or calling this point of contact to introduce yourself and express your interest in the opportunity they’re offering!
What Can I Do To Prepare for these Opportunities?
Hold steady in your confidence that pursuing your dream career is the right choice for you. Draw on your life experience (and your connections!) as these things have helped you develop invaluable skills that many younger applicants won’t have.
If you find yourself feeling nervous or ill-equipped for the change you’re looking to make, up-skilling opportunities are a fantastic way to ease yourself into your new career path – it’s never too late to learn, grow and improve your working life!
Looking to Upskill Before Jumping into a New Career?
The idea of embarking on further study as a mature age student might feel a bit daunting. However, it’s an experience you’ll likely find personally and professionally rewarding. This is what it’s really like to be a mature-age student.
Making a Career Change as an Older Adult: The Complete Guide
In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about changing careers as an older adult.
If you’d like to learn more about starting your career change, what it’s like to be a mature-age student, picking a career path, or even writing career change cover letters, all the information you need is here.
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