Redundancies and redeployment present a challenge to the over 50s. One minute you are fielding phone calls from head hunters for top jobs, the next you’re trying to demonstrate you still have the drive and energy for a post in the new structure.
If your post doesn’t exist in the new structure and early retirement is neither desirable or an option then how do you go about getting a job somewhere else in the organisation?
If you work in the public sector the current harsh financial climate will mean job losses for managers but there is still room for success. The new slimmer management structure may have fewer managers but there will still be good jobs to be had for the right people. Why shouldn’t that be you?
Some of your colleagues will take early retirement and a few will take voluntary redundancy, but the rest will be your competition. The winners get a new job title and possibly more money and definitely a bigger work load. The losers get redundancy.
Being in the public sector you are unlikely to be in competition from individuals outside the organisation.They don’t like to make people redundant then advertise new higher paid posts, it simply looks bad.
So what’s likely to be your biggest obstacle acquiring this new post? New structures are usually announced in a language which refers to the need for dynamic, enthusiastic and energetic leadership with an emphasis on innovation and new ways of doing things. Subconsciously both those applying and those appointing may hear this to mean “young” managers.
The stereotype is that older managers are set in their ways, lack ambition, are less likely to be up for a new challenge and lack the energy to drive the changes required. Of course this may well be true of some older managers, just as it is true of younger managers. It not really an age thing but more of an attitude.
Nevertheless if you are over 50, you will have to challenge the stereotype and demonstrate you’re up for the challenge.
Start with the personal statement section on your job application. List your top ten achievements in relation to bringing about change. Use all that experience to show how you have transferable skills on occasions when there were budget cuts, service reductions, redeployments and restructurings. This is not the cynical “seen it all before, try it, found it doesn’t work” attitude but the “I have faced these challenges, know what to expect and am therefore confident I can lead staff through a period of change”.
The next task is to demonstrate your creativity. Why not start by referring to the proposals you submitted for achieving the efficiency targets and delivering the budget savings. This will help convey your enthusiasm for looking at new ways of doing things and provide the opportunity to show that you appreciate the political climate has changed and that councillors and staff are willing to think the unthinkable.
This statement should be about two sides of typed A4, short, sharp and punchy, not long, repetitive and irrelevant. The interview is your chance to build on this so prepare accordingly. You will have a lot more examples to draw upon than your less experienced colleagues.
As a former director who chaired many interview panels I was always looking for someone who could inspire staff and take responsibility for getting things done but I also wanted evidence of wisdom to go with all that drive and ambition.