Flexible Working: You can have a GREAT CAREER and a GREAT LIFE in your 50’s

Subject Expert: Sarah Taylor, Resource Harbour

Throughout our lives, career priorities shift. Our age, life stage and big life events have a huge impact on our work life and career choices. At early stages of our careers, the focus may be on progression, finding our niche, making money, status and experimenting. In later stages we may be more likely to focus on making a difference, purpose or legacy. Re-discovering ourselves following impactful life transitions such as marriage, raising children, empty nesting, illness, divorce or the death of loved ones, will also have a profound effect on our career choices and priorities.

As we head into our fifties, it is likely that we have ‘life’ commitments and priorities that already exist; self-care, voluntary work, families, travelling, hobbies, caring responsibilities etc. We may be thinking about changing how we work; working less or changing direction. Perhaps going back to work after a break. The physical and emotional changes that come with hitting fifty will inevitably stop us in our tracks, forcing us to take stock and decide what lies ahead for us work wise. Just powering through is no longer an option.

It’s important to stop and take a moment to reflect and decide how you want to work and live from this point onwards. What does success look like for you? How can you find a work/life blend? What do you need from a career at this point in your life?


The fastest growing segment of the workforce in the UK is women over 50?

With over 4m fabulous over 50s, employers are seeking to engage with the untapped talent in this age bracket, they want diversity. Women over 50, whether they have been in a recent work role or not, have a plethora of transferable skills as well as life experience and an untold wisdom (don’t we know it!). Those who have spent time in care giving or homemaking roles, for example,  have most certainly earned their title of CEO of the household; have fantastic organisational and project management skills, event planning abilities, creative flair, not to mention acquired skills in negotiation and conflict management where children may have been concerned! Each and every one of us has a unique blend of skills and talents that are highly sought after by employers.

But how can employers effectively engage you and the strengths you can bring to a role whilst catering for your needs too?

Flexible working and job sharing could be the answer

Find the work/life balance that is right for you

The flexible working movement is really gathering pace. Flexible working comes in many different forms and it can be a great way of continuing to work in your 50s or indeed breaking back into the workplace. You can work flexibly on permanent contracts, interim contracts and non- executive directorships. Flexible working options can include part- time week/days, term time working, holiday time working, annualised hours, career breaks or sabbaticals, flexitime, short- or medium-term contracts or assignments, commissioned outcomes, phased retirement, job sharing, mobile/tele working and zero commute to name a few.

Flexible working means you can have a career and a life

Job sharing can be the ideal solution for you if you have other responsibilities and want to keep your career on track. You and your job share partner can take on challenging roles, which are rarely available part-time. You can arrange your hours to suit your own circumstances. You can fully focus on whatever you do during your time off, confident that emails are still being answered, the work is being done and someone has your back. You can bounce ideas off your partner and utilise each other’s strengths and complimentary skills.

What are the benefits?

As well as enabling employers to tap into the over 50s talent pool by providing roles that are suitable for their needs, the benefits of flexible working and job sharing run much deeper.

Workplace mental health issues costs the UK economy almost £35bn a year with 15.4m working days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. With digital technology the 24/7 workplace is a reality and the day doesn’t seem to end. We are plugged in constantly and many employees are literally wired.

Job share really can and does address these issues.

What industries does this work well in?

Flexibility brings clear business benefit in all sectors.  

How can you find the right opportunities?

In terms of landing a flexible role, you need to be very clear what you want in the first instance. What does success look like to you? What hours or schedule would you prefer to work? What is your preferred role and where can you add real value?

FIRSTLY, It’s all about you

You need to know WHO you are – what makes you tick, your values, strengths, transferable skills and technical knowledge. You need to know where you are now in terms of location and life stage.  Would you like a start-up or a large corporate? Where does your passion lie? www.findmywhy is a great place to start if you need some assistance.

SECONDLY, It’s all about them

Decide where you want to work location wise and do some research around this area. Explore organisations around you? Which organisation would you love to work for?

THIRDLY, Prepare

Fine-tune your covering letter and CV to each and every job application. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is awesome and ensure it matches your CV in terms of experience and dates. Get some interview practice before the real thing. Talk about how you can help the employer and not the other way around.

Apply for roles even if you can only do half of the tasks listed. (Men do that, and women don’t!) Think about you and your uniqueness. Noone has your story or ever will, or the exact mix of talents that you have or your personality. You are one of a kind!

Good luck!

About the Subject Expert:

I’m Sarah and I love what people do for a living – it is part of who they are and part of their story. I can see potential in everyone which makes for a great recruiter and career coach because I am able to help individuals understand what value they can bring to the workplace party and the type of work they would be suited to.  I’m also good at seeing where there is a great fit and a work opportunity, even if it is not immediately apparent to either party. I have had a varied career, working for large corporates in fmcg marketing, I have worked on an interim basis and been self-employed basis following various career breaks. I co-founded a £5m business in interim management in the marketing and hr functions in the mid 1990s. I am in my second act now (age 54) and am juggling a young (I know crazy) family, a business and having a life. I am a co-founder of www.resourceharbour.co.uk with Katie and Zina. We are changing the status quo and encouraging business to see talesee talent all around us, the qualified lawyer working part-time in the village shop, the ex-HR Director who has had a career break for 10 years or the software engineer working in the local DIY store. We provide flexible working solutions for companies and focus on job share partnerships.

Basically I have been there and done that and probably seen it before – which helps …

Contact sarahtaylor@resourceharbour.co.uk

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahtaylorresourceharbour/

Twitter @ResourceHarbour or @CareerVoyage

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