SENIOR citizens looking for re-employment, should approach it from a fresh angle. Rather than applying for jobs, you should offer your consultancy and advisory services.
Ang Hui Ming, HR & Finance Lead at leadership training company Leaderonomics, says that while her company has had a lot of retirees coming in for jobs, they are professionals with a portfolio.
“When they come for the interview, they already know they want to be a freelance consultant or freelance trainer. We don’t get many of those applying for mid-level management posts because they probably don’t know where they can fit in in an organisation,” says Ang.
She provides some tips on how retirees can gain re-employment:
Update your resume
Retirees would need to update their resumes. Look at examples online or get friends and family to show you how they write their resume.
“I don’t think they would change a lot of things in their resume but what they should do is to write it in a way that it’s really a personal profile of what they can bring to the table from their years of experience. Or maybe position it differently so that it’s not like the resume of someone looking for a full-time job. They would proposition it as someone offering their services on a freelance, part-time or contract basis.
“Most of them won’t be looking for a full-time job because they are past retirement age.
“For their resume, they would still have to have their work experience but at the same time, how would they position it in terms of what they can bring. They might write something like, ‘I am looking for opportunities whereby I can do consulting and provide my advisory services …’ This would help them capitalise on their services,” says Ang.
When a company sees the resume, they will consider if this retiree can come on board as a contract worker or advisor or on a retainer.
She says visumes (video resumes) are not necessary. “I don’t see it taking off at all. People still prefer face-to-face,” she says.
What is popularly used now is LinkedIn, the online professional network. Having a LinkedIn profile is very important. Remember to update it with your background, work experience and skills.
“That’s probably where headhunters find you and now LinkedIn has even extended its services to all HR people so we actually use LinkedIn to hire and recruit professionals, too.
“That means do it very professionally. It would be good if they can get someone to review their LinkedIn profile, and it’s very important to get recommendations and referrals from LinkedIn.
“If the retirees are really looking to go and get a contract offering advisory services, their LinkedIn profile would be one that speaks of credibility for them,” says Ang.
Importantly, don’t just have a LinkedIn profile for the sake of having it, without filling in your work experience and skills. Also, remember not to type everything in upper case.
The role of Facebook
Ang believes that LinkedIn should be the retirees’ main social media platform.
If you use Facebook, you should either contain what is shared by avoiding chatter and comments on current events and politics, or have two Facebook accounts – one for your professional profile and the other for social reasons.
If you want to use Facebook professionally, you can make it more about advisory and wisdom sharing and inspirational – because that says who you are as a wise, senior person.
“If I’m looking for an advisor or consultant, I would want someone who has thought and can do deep analysis, if needed, but not so much of the day-to-day chatter. Retirees should then use FB as a professional tool and not as a social tool.
“We do look at the Facebook profiles of people we want to work with and the way they advise their kids speaks a lot about them. I would also look at their professional conduct and if they are a role model for the community,” she adds.
Research the culture
Before even considering offering your services to any company, you should research the organisation’s culture.
This way, you will know if you are suitable for the company and if you will be able to fit in, even if it is only in an advisory or consultancy role.
“No point they come in, and then struggle to fit in. If they can find out the culture, they’ll know how to dress so that they are not overdressed nor dressed down either,” says Ang.
While the culture may not be what the retiree is used to, it may be something he or she may want to work with.
“If they feel like they’ve been stuck in their corporate suit for so many years and they’re really geared up for a more relaxed culture, then why not write in?” says Ang.
How to begin
So, how do you even begin to write in to an organisation to offer your services?
“Normally, from my experience, the senior citizens would write in, listing their experiences, and asking if we can meet up to explore and discuss opportunities and where they may be of service or be part of the organisation. There’s no mention of any job,” says Ang.
This way, there is no job description to evaluate you on and it gives an opportunity to the HR person to explore what you can do.
“It actually gives the HR person a lot of freedom to work around the person’s strengths rather than they apply for a job and then it’s so rigid.
“A lot of big companies now are very open about getting people. The way they interview people is by just meeting up for a chat, especially for senior roles. They hardly go through the recruitment process anymore, especially for senior roles,” says Ang.
She believes that retirees should not waste their time on recruitment webpages. The best way is to write directly by email or to get referrals.
Meet on neutral ground
Ang suggests taking it to a friendly chat on neutral ground. The “interview” doesn’t need to be in a formal setting in the organisation’s office.
“Having a chat outside the company is less intimidating. They might have it over a drink – coffee, perhaps – so it’s more like a chat rather than an interview.
“At their age, it’s really just talking about experience and finding opportunities that are potentially a win-win situation for both parties. For them to come for an interview, might put them in a position where they might be or feel inferior.
“If they are in a casual and neutral setting, it sets people on par so it’s an easier conversation. This is something they need to be comfortable with, as it is increasingly done, even for younger candidates these days,” says Ang.
Have a conversation
At the interview, Ang suggests not speaking like an “uncle” – that means no talking down and no name-dropping, and certainly no sentence that starts with “in my day ….”
“At the interview, there is a good chance that the interviewer will be younger than them and sometimes the seniors may speak down. Just as if they are at work, they should maintain their professionalism.
“Seniors tend to fit into two categories – the ones who talk down and the ones who are too humble to talk about their accomplishments and don’t market themselves. I think the humble retirees will have to learn how to put forth what they can bring to the organisation. Forget about their age, and focus on their experience.
“Then we have those who are very senior and they want to offer their advisory services but they appear too dominant, too pushy or too know-it-all. It would also be very hard for an organisation to bring them on because then you know that younger people trying to work with them and get instructions from them would face difficulty as well,” says Ang.
She advises retirees not to treat the interview as though it’s one-sided. It’s a two-way conversation, and the best interviews are conversational.
You should ask questions as well, catch on to the questions and ask back. “Make it as if they are talking to somebody that they are trying to get to know. If they can come in with that mindset, I think it will help to avoid all the jitters or any mentality of being more or less superior than the interviewer and organisation,” says Ang.
She reminds retirees to go in with an open mind and seek to find out as much about the company as possible within that time.
Go for what you’re comfortable with
For retirees planning to apply for jobs, rather than go for a consultancy or advisory role, Ang recommends only applying for positions they are comfortable with.
“They should know where they will not be too stressed out and they can definitely bring their expertise into the role. Because the pace of work is quite fast now, they should go for something that they will be comfortable with at their age and which they don’t have to learn too much on the job. I don’t think they want too much stress at that age.
“I think they need to be very open to find out about the expectations of the company and the demands of the role,” says Ang.
Play up your strengths
While age is not on your side, experience, wisdom, maturity and calmness are. Retirees should keep that in mind and not be intimidated.
“They’ve seen so much, done so much and overcome so many challenges, that they don’t jump easily or react too fast because they have been there, done that, seen it, no big deal. Most younger people are fast to react or they’re too jumpy about certain things and small things can jitter them.
“What a lot of senior citizens would bring to the table is that maturity to know how to be calm and steady about certain things and just to face it step by step ….
“I find senior citizens usally think things through very well. They are able to bring experience to any situation and problem. On the flip side, they need to not always follow the old ways, because what didn’t work before, might work today and what worked before, might not work today.
“They should bring that wisdom coupled with openness to what’s happening,” says Ang.
She contends that retirees bring with them credibility. Just their presence adds credibility to an organisation. That’s a very huge advantage to companies, who might want a senior person at meetings with customers and government officials.
Normally, when retirees go in as an advisor, consultant or on retainer, the fee would be higher because this is a valued role. However, if you are going for a fixed role with a fixed job scope defined by the company then you must fit into the price range of the company.
“Normally, when it comes to compensation, they can mention what was their last drawn salary and keep it open-ended by saying ‘That was my last drawn salary and that was my previous experience. You will have to see if it fits into the role and what’s the best offer you can make me.’ This keeps it open-ended so that the interviewer, even if they can’t match your last drawn salary, can make an offer and then the ball is in your court rather than saying, this is my price, and I expect a 20% increment,” says Ang.
According to her, it’s best left to the HR interviewer to propose the remuneration package.
According to Ang, today’s job market is very flexible and a lot of companies are open to freelance and contract roles and more flexible work arrangements.
“There’s a lot of opportunity to do part-time work. I think the market is opening because they want talent and sometimes they want talent that’s not on full-time payroll because it’s probably easier to manage by project, by the ups and downs of the business and they might want someone for the short-term. The job market is pretty good as long as you are not hung up about getting a full-time job,” she says.