I regularly get approached by women in their forties and fifties who think that it is too late for them to change their career and pursue something that they are passionate about. My response to them is always the same, you are not too old to make a career change and to find something more fulfilling. For many women making a mid-life career change is something that they would love to do but don't have the courage to do it.
The Equalities Act 2010 brought into force legislation concerning age discrimination in the recruitment process and makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their age unless it can be objectively justified. However, despite this protection, many women are of the belief that employers do discriminate against them because of their age.
One of my clients had worked in the city for most of her career when she was made redundant in her late forties. This was followed by a short spate of ill health and by the time that she was ready to re-enter the job market, she was finding it difficult to get back in to the kind of work she had done for many years.
She did not have a problem getting interviews but found that despite doing really well at the interviews, she was not being offered the jobs and she attributed it to her age. She even commented how when she went for one particular interview at a major city firm and walked through the office, there was no one over the age of 30 and that she did not fit the image i.e. young and glamorous looking.
This fed in to her belief that she was being turned down for jobs because of her age which in turn knocked her confidence. Her lack of confidence about re-entering the job market fuelled her belief that she was being turned down for jobs because of her age.
When your confidence is low, it can be easy to believe that situations are a lot worse than what they actually are. Taking a more realistic view and putting things in to perspective will help you to view the situation more rationally.
My client was competing for jobs that hundreds of other people were going for as well but because she was being unsuccessful, she assumed that this was because of her age without having any evidence to support this. Thinking this way was not helping her situation at all as it was making her anxious, bitter and with an attitude of 'what's the point'. This came across in her body language and the way that she spoke.
With my support she was able to see that this is what was happening. She realised that her unhelpful thinking was affecting the way that she felt about herself and was manifesting in her behaviour and knocking her confidence. By reframing her thoughts about her situation and looking at it more realistically, she started to feel more confident. As her confident grew, we identified that what she really wanted to do was not to go back and work in the city but to start her own business.
If you are thinking of making a career change at mid-life, do not be disheartened and remember dreams have no age limit and just to highlight this, here are examples of famous people who changed career in later life:-
- Colonel Sanders of KFC fame was 40 when he opened a store selling cooked chicken and other foods and was 65 when he started the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise following failure of his store.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame (I used to love that as a child) didn't publish her first novel until she was 65.
- Takichiro Mori left acadaemia aged 55 to become a real estate investor in 1959. In 1991 and 1992 Forbes ranked him as the richest man in the world.
Do not let yourself get to a stage in your life where you look back and deeply regret not pursuing your passion because you thought that you were too old. When you are in your 70s and 80s you will look back and realise just how young you were when you were 40 and 50.
You are never too old to make a career change and find somethng that you love. As one woman who joined my new network group The Ladies Business Brainstorming Club informed me, she is enjoying a career renaissance at the age of 75!
Do you want to make a career change but need ideas as to what to do or how to go about it? Do you want to set up your own business so that you can leave the day job? If so, come along to The Ladies Business Brainstorming Club event on 26th August 2014 where you can network with some amazing women, make some valuable contacts and get support with finding solutions. Visit Upcoming Event for further details.
If you do feel that you are being discriminated against during the recruitment process because of your age, contact an organisation such as ACAS on 08457 474747 where you can get free and confidential advice.
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