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Finding work as an older bloke


SAman4Aus

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SAman4Aus

After working many years in Australia I had to return to South Africa for personal reasons. Three years on and my personal situation has changed and for various reasons I am ready to return to Australia.

I am 54 years old, worked in IT for 28 years including as an IT Project Manager for the past 16 years. I have a relevant degree, certifications (pmp, prince2), loads of experience, Ausy work references, well presented CV and I am an Ausy citizen. Finding a job in Aus should then be a breeze…….or will it? J

My question for the ol’ topies living in Aus:  Will my age count against me when looking for work in Aus? I know age discrimination is illegal in Aus but….unofficially?  I experienced it in South Africa – “sorry but you have too much experience for this position” I.e. your too old!  I won’t even mention the BEE challenges for a white ‘old’ male in South Africa.

I am fully aware I need to be in Aus when looking for work,  so I am considering jetting off to Sydney/Melbourne for 2 or 3 months in an attempt to find a job. An expensive and risky step, but then, life is full of sacrifices.

Soooo, what are my chances as a 50+ bloke landing an interview? Is there an even playing field with a younger candidate with good experience or will my age influence an employment agent (who are mostly 18 years old) towards a younger candidate whilst he or she quietly discards my CV to the bin?

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SimpleSimon

My experience, my industry: 

 

Companies look for younger staff who they believe are more flexible, willing to put up with more and less likely to ask why. While doing business is polite and friendly, it is still hierarchical in Australia where the CEO calls the shots and expects obedience and loyalty. Older folk simply don’t put up with poor decisions and view upcoming CEOs with a fair amount of skepticism. They’ve seen too many stuff ups before. Companies also know that it takes a couple of years for staff to ramp up to full productivity so they’d prefer 5 - 10 years service. So at 50+ You’re not at all attractive as a permanent staff member. My experience - 40+ and you’re already down the list of candidates.

 

On the other hand, the grey hair brigade have a distinct advantage in the contractor/consulting area. The years of experience and gravitas places you in prime position to be a model to and teach the company’s greenhorn employees. You’re also no threat in the subtle internal politics and can be allocated to the impossible challenging projects that won’t taint others career aspirations.

 

My advice, avoid the 20 - 30 something recruitment agents and HR managers who don’t take the time to understand you or the technical aspects of the job. Go straight to your previous contacts and tell them that you’re looking for short term projects which are just a hassle to companies. I did this 14 years ago and a few of my 3-month projects taken on then are still going strong. While company employees are worried that they may be let go, this now represents a minor threat to my cash flow. And I’ve had to bring in quite a few people to help me so I have a nice business running.

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Depends who you ask. A lot of studies has been done about that and are freely available. Age discrimination is a big issue and little will change that irrespective of the value an mature age person can bring. A better approach is to get an overview of the finding from various industries. Here are some links

https://theconversation.com/age-discrimination-in-the-workplace-happening-to-people-as-young-as-45-study-76095

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/older-people/older-australia-at-a-glance/contents/social-and-economic-engagement/employment-and-economic-participation

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/Fact or Fiction_2013_WebVersion_FINAL_0.pdf

Here are some older articles and the findings didn't change

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-02/older-people-struggle-to-reenter-workforce/5065854

And it will get worse

https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/issues-paper-employment-discrimination-against-older-australians/5-what-do-we-know

because of the high unemployment rate of the youth.....

 

Bottomline is you have to ensure you can make your own rain!!!

 

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SimpleSimon
3 hours ago, ottg said:

Bottomline is you have to ensure you can make your own rain!!!

@ottg you’ve provided the research which indicates it’s tough for older folk to find employment. I’ve provided an alternative way to get work = ST contracts. What a team.

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SAman4Aus

Thanks  @ottg - very informative response. I read the articles you provided and it seems that my concern with age discrimination by agents/employers is warranted. I agree with @SimpleSimon that contracting is an option but I also know that the IT industry in Australia is flooded with young and older people looking for work and neither mind working as a contractor or perm employee. I also agree that one should, if possible, avoid working through a 20-30 year old employment agent. Employment agents are ones greatest barrier to landing an interview and if they think your too old, your CV is not going any further than their desk, no matter how educated and experienced you are.

 

I have always believed that you have to make your own luck. "Bottomline is you have to ensure you can make your own rain!!!" .... spot on!

 

So a tough decision for me. Do I take the plunge and spend a fortune traveling to Aus, renting for 2 or 3 months and hope I find a job? Let in rain in Australia :) 

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There is an alternative. Autonomous vehicles are coming soon.

There is a shortage of skilled people to work in that industry. You can prepare your self for that. How?

http://www.saaustralia.org/topic/48989-the-new-industry-autonomous-vehicles-how-to-get-in/

 

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  • 5 months later...
On 29 April 2018 at 7:25 AM, SimpleSimon said:

@ottg you’ve provided the research which indicates it’s tough for older folk to find employment. I’ve provided an alternative way to get work = ST contracts. What a team.

No question that there was a proper brain drain from SA when you both left.

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@SAman4Aus, I would say take the step. You won't get younger and being in Australia is surely preferable to being in South Africa. Also you don't need to give your age at all in your application; what you could do is only list the last 15 years or so of employment too so you don't give your age away entirely, though qualification dates might also show your age. Employers aren't supposed to discriminate based on age, but they do. Apply for jobs and see what response you get. You will only know if you take the step. You could even apply from South Africa and say in your cover letter that you plan to be in Australia on specific dates and then see what feedback you get from employers to see if you would get responses. Could you perhaps try approach your previous employer(s) too in Australia to see if they would be interested in hiring you again? Good point about employment agenvies; I hadn't thought of that, that they might screen people based on age; maybe try to approach agencies and companies with older staff who will be more understanding. I also usually tell people to try Dialog Information Technology because one of the account managers travels regularly to South Africa to interview people; they look for all types of project people, from managers through to developers, though they don't seem to be looking for too many people currently in Sydney, but more in Melbourne; they employ 1,200 people throughout Australia.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Bonny. I literally had my bags packed ready to go back to Sydney and 'give it a go'. However, fate intervened, I injured my back and ended up having an operation. The op was unfortunately not a success so at the moment, I am unable to work.  S^%t happens!

 

Needles to say I have to work to live in Australia, so for now I am 'stuck' with an Australian passport in South Africa. Yes, Ausy citizens can work in NZ and visa versa. I worked for a few years in Wellington but prefer the warmer climate in Australia.

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Wow that’s not great for you. I’m sure you will explore all options though. I hope things improve, and wish you well! Thanks for the reply.

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