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How to re-enter the workforce when you’re not so young anymore


11 September 2020 at 6:22 pm
Maggie Coggan
Ageism in the workforce can start at as young as 45. We take a look at how to navigate the job market as a not-so-young person 


Maggie Coggan | 11 September 2020 at 6:22 pm


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How to re-enter the workforce when you’re not so young anymore
11 September 2020 at 6:22 pm

Ageism in the workforce can start at as young as 45. We take a look at how to navigate the job market as a not-so-young person 

The economic chaos of this year has meant a lot of people have found themselves without a job.

Losing your job is never easy, but research shows that for people aged 45 years and older, it can be particularly tough finding a new job.  

A 2018 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 30 per cent of respondents said their organisation was reluctant or unwilling to hire anyone over the age of 50. 

Stereotypes about being too rigid, slow or technologically unsavvy can mean work starts to dry up, or you find yourself unable to compete with the younger pool of candidates applying for the same role. 

While there’s only so much that you as the candidate can do about this, we sat down with Lisa Annese, the CEO of Diversity Council Australia, for some advice on how to re-enter the workforce 

Hey Lisa, so what are the challenges an older person faces when re-entering the workforce? 

So once people are actually employed, there wasn’t that much difference between the discrimination experiences of older workers versus younger workers and vice versa. But the barrier was getting in the door because people who are 45 years and older are really up against the perception of no longer being valuable. There are negative perceptions around people’s capabilities, that they aren’t flexible, [they] can’t learn new things or work with technology, that they might be unreliable because they are more sickly, and none of these things are true.

So what can a candidate do to overcome some of these barriers? 

It’s important to recognise that this shouldn’t land on the individuals, it’s the employer who needs to take the steps to reduce discrimination. However, candidates should know that they don’t need to reveal their age, it’s unlawful to be asked to. 

If you are still really struggling, I would suggest recognising and preempting the concerns an employer might have and highlighting in your CV and in your previous work experience that demonstrates your reliability, and your ability to pick up on new things. 

Do you have any tips on dealing with not landing a job because of your age? 

It will be pretty demoralising, especially because it’s something you have absolutely no control over. I would focus on moving forward, looking after your mental health and wellbeing, building resilience and creating a psychologically safe environment for yourself. 

It’s also a good idea to do your research and seek out employers that value a diverse workforce and value skill and expertise. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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