There have been a number of stories in the media lately focused on the issue of ageism and employment.
I realise this is a pet topic of mine but again and again, I hear stories about men and women over 50 who are struggling to find work and, with the high cost of living in Australia, finding it hard to pay for the bare necessities of life.
One of the stories I read was about a woman in Hobart, Tasmania, in her 60s who can't find work, has applied for numerous jobs - 15 a week at first but demoralised, she is now applying for 15 a month - and faced with mounting debt, only eats one large meal a day and a snack if she needs it at night because she can't afford food. She is 61 - hardly old by any stretch of the imagaination, and she has worked in retail since she was 15.
She is on JobSeeker Allowance but she wants to work.
This story is not unusual. There are thousands of Australians in this age bracket who want to work, need to work for their mental health and financial situation, but are turned away because of their age.
Sadly, until the Federal Government incentivises companies who employ people over 50, I can't see this trend changing. There are so many myths about older workers that need to be dispelled to open doors but in the meantime, here's a few things you can do to help yourself.
Social interaction - it is very easy to become isolated and depressed when you are not able to work. It is essential you maintain your contacts so try and meet with a work colleague twice a week for coffee. Volunteer one or two days a week at your favourite charity - it is so important to keep engaged with people.
Ask - the next point is ask! I remember once inquiring of a work colleague why she didn't ask my company to pitch for a particular comms job. She looked at me blankly and said, "you've never asked me for work". Lesson learned. Ask...tell your work colleagues that you're job seeking and get them to keep their eyes and ears open for you. Don't be embarrassed. I am still not super comfortable with this approach but I do it all the same.
Upskill yourself - learning something new is always a benefit. It keeps your brain active, can open new horizons and gets you out off the couch and out of the house.
Think broadly about your skills - you've worked in retail so you've got "customer facing" skills. This means you could be a maitre d' in a restaurant, or work in a call centre, or man the phones on a help desk. Don't just categorise yourself as a "shop assistant". It is so important to tailor your skill set to whatever job you are applying for and use the language of today. Yes, you need to do the research...check out the job ads and pick up the "new" language for your job sector.
I totally understand how dispiriting it is to apply for numerous roles and never get even an acknowledgement of your application, let alone a chance for an interview. But don't give up - your next role might just be around the corner!