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Life after the job: Is age discrimination real in the job market?

Is it harder to get a job when you're over 50? Andy Labrum of Blue Light Leavers answers a question many retiring officers will have on their minds.
Published - 25/08/2021 By - Andy Labrum

I can answer this in one word… Absolutely!

As painful as it is, we have to face the fact that when we leave the job on retirement, ill-health or by choice in our late 40's and 50's, contrary to what you might have heard elsewhere, you won't find a wave of eager employers waiting to scoop you up and offer you employment, just because you happened to have been a cop for X amount of years and been told you have an abundance of ‘transferable skills’.

The bottom line is, and I'm sorry for being blunt.. no-one actually cares.

I know this is going to be a bit controversial and possibly rub people up the wrong way, but I’m telling you as it is. If you feel that you're entitled to get an interview because of your career in policing, you're miles off and you're going to find it tough getting a job. 

Add to that, a conscious/unconscious bias from recruiters, employers and interviewers for anyone over a certain age, thinking cops are probably stuck in our ways, can't cope with change, possibly difficult to manage, slower to learn new skills, less able to like or use modern tech, not going to be around long because we've already retired or going to find this job boring... all of these stereotypes and opinions, impact our ability to find new roles.

Whatever job you're going for, whether it's a new career, a job to tide you over or a pension top up, you're up against stiff competition! The job market is pretty tough still, although there are positive signs, and at the moment, we’re not too sure about the final impact of furlough stopping this month and things could get a lot more competitive. We're also in a situation, where people with incredible skills and experience are applying for jobs that they're massively overqualified for, including ex-cops.

So, what can you do?

All is not lost. It's not easy, but take it from one who knows It can be done, and I've helped many others of a 'certain age' do the same as you'll see in the testimonials on the Blue Light Leavers website and the podcasts.

Do these things and you stand a greater chance of getting through to interview:

  • Remove your age, date of birth and 'O' and 'A' levels from your CV
  • Make sure that you review the person and role spec and pick out keywords to map across to your CV
  • Tweak your CV or application to make sure the examples you give, show clearly, how your skills and experience are absolutely relevant for the job you're applying for
  • You don't have to put your entire career or skill-set on the CV. You can be selective, but try not to leave gaps. My CV has a role title and 1-2 bullet points for roles more than 15 years ago
  • Your age and experience, mean you have a vast array of soft skills and loads of evidence of when you've used those softer skills
  • Leverage former colleagues, friendships and relationships and let them all know you're looking
  • Make sure you have an 'All-star' LinkedIn profile. If you don't know what that is, you haven't listened to the Blue Light Leavers podcast with Charlotte Eve, have you?
  • You're playing the numbers game, so keep looking and apply direct through the company website where possible, not LinkedIn or Fast Apply on Hays or CV Library etc
  • When you get through to interview, drop the ego and be humble and grateful for the opportunity of an interview
  • As tough as it may be for some, talk positively about your policing career
  • Nothing puts people off more than complaining about how you were treated in a previous job, however true that may be. Fake it
  • Be proud of your service but tell them how excited you are about the possibility of working for them and why

It's going to be tough.. you're likely to get knock backs, but as I said, you're playing

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