Still fit for work? How to stay in employable shape with age!

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Walk, run or jog all you want, sometimes it seems as though the “youngsters” are getting the upper hand in most things these days. Not only have their faces not yet experienced the harsh realities of wrinkledom, but it’s starting to seem like they are better equipped than most to land the majority of jobs available within the Australian labour market, especially with the recent rise in technological developments which have demanded the acquisition of new work skills.

Being an older worker in a constantly evolving workforce is never easy, but never has it seemed as imperative as now to pump up those skills and increase one’s employability. The growing pressure of the aging population on economic growth has extended the participation age of older Australians, with the latest Treasury Intergeneration Report pointing to an increase in the eligibility age for the means-tested age pension from 65 to 67.

Yet despite pushing for longer workforce attachment, current workforce trends appear to be anything but “age friendly”. Work intensification strategies characterised by excessive hours, unrealistic benchmarks, family unfriendly arrangements, and high levels of competitiveness are slowly emerging, and such conditions are set to hinder the ability of workers to maintain employment well into their late 60s.

This is particularly true for older Australians who have expressed having a harder time regaining jobs once they are lost, with the average duration of unemployment for Australians aged 45 years and over being 62 weeks, compared to the 34 weeks for Aussies under 45, and 24 weeks for those under 25.

While workers higher up the hierarchical ladder are more likely to experience employment stability, those either lower down the company chain or currently in unemployment, are most likely to undergo difficulty in getting a job. If workers are to remain employable well into their 60s, then it is crucial they apply strategies which will make them more job-fit than their younger-gen competitors.

How to stay job fit and outweigh younger job-hunters

1. Keep up with your industry

They often say that knowledge is power, and to keep up with the various changes happening in your industry, you need to stay informed. Be sure to monitor developments, such as technological and regulatory advances, and identify any new skills required to efficiently perform your daily tasks.

It might be the case that your industry requires qualifications which weren’t a prerequisite back when you first got your foot in the door. To rise above younger generations already equipped with the required licenses and qualifications, add a qualification to your trophy stand, and situate it right beside your experience.

If you feel that you simply don’t have the time or energy to take on board new study, there are always other options available like Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) which allows you to trade in your existing skills and experience for a qualification.

2. Take time to build yourself and your capabilities

With ongoing developments, you need to take the time to improve and build upon your capabilities. Start by exploring your options, understanding your current value, identifying where you want to be, and then determining what gaps exist between the role you are currently in or hope to attain, and your existing skill sets.

Having your skills assessed against industry benchmarks might be a useful way of highlighting these shortcomings, and can often be done in a highly cost-effective manner. A Free Skills Review is a useful tool for efficiently identifying the skills, knowledge and experience you currently have, and those which you might need to attain to stay abreast with your industry.

3. Have a strong social media presence

As it stands, your digital footprint is starting to become just as important as your physical one. With more than half of all Australians using Facebook and LinkedIn, social media has transformed the way companies operate their recruitment endeavours. Of all these, LinkedIn has emerged as the dominant favourite for recruiters and job seekers alike, followed by Facebook.

In response, professional networks such as LinkedIn are becoming instrumental catalysts in bringing about a new era of recruitment that is optimised for both employer and employee. This makes having a strong social media presence of prime importance so as to effectively cater to the ongoing technological changes that give you that competitive advantage over your competitors. Learn more about optimising your social media resume here.

Always remember that you are never too old to do what you love. Learn to adapt to current workforce trends and industry requirements so as to either keep your job, obtain a new one, or simply remain in tip-top employable shape for years to come.

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