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Coping with redundancy at 50

by Jasmine Birtles – Money expert, financial journalist, TV and radio personality
Last updated 25th October 2023
10 min read

So you’ve had the dreaded news: your company doesn’t need you anymore. Or perhaps the whole business has folded taking you with it.

Redundancy is not fun at any time but it can seem a little tougher if you’re over fifty.

At least…it used to seem like that.

Frankly, fifty is no big deal at all now, but some employers still imagine that it is. So there are a few things you may need to do to make your CV stand out above the rest. More on that below.

But right now, there are a few steps you can take to make the transition from redundancy to employment smoother and easier.

On this page

First steps for dealing with redundancy

  1. Firstly, look after yourself!

    Losing a job, even if you get an impressive redundancy package (well done!), can knock your confidence for six and even make you feel depressed for a while.

    So, the first thing to do when you’re let go, or told that you will be let go, is to be kind to yourself. Give yourself a bit of time to grieve, reaching out to friends and relatives who are loving and positive to support you at this time.

  2. Make that grieving process quite short if you can, though

    There is a world of opportunities out there full of possibilities for you so don’t spend too much time feeling blue.

    Some grieving time can be helpful but doing it for too long will mean you miss out on the good stuff early on.

  3. Get professional advice

    Do you feel you were wrongly made redundant? Or perhaps you don’t think you got the package you should have done? Go to opens in a new tab) for all the information you need about your rights in redundancy. The website also has some helpful advice on how to get a new job( opens in a new tab).

  4. Then, don’t panic

    There really are lots of work opportunities for you, even though it might take a bit of time and effort to find them.

  5. Also, don’t grab the first job you see

    Give yourself time to think, assess the situation, research the market and, importantly, work on ‘brand you’ to present yourself in the best way possible for new jobs or work opportunities.

  6. Manage your money

    This is not a time to splash out. If you got a redundancy package, put that money into a savings account that you can dip into if needed. If you didn’t get one, sign on to Universal Credit( opens in a new tab) immediately as it takes at least five weeks to get the money in.

    Use this quiet time to go through your monthly costs and cut them down where possible. Switch your bills to get cheaper gas, electricity, broadband and other regular payments like car and home insurance.

    Cancel any subscriptions that you’re not really using like the gym or magazines you don’t read.

    Keep yourself away from the temptation to spend as far as you’re able until you get your first salary payment!

Consider your options

So the next thing to consider is what you want to move on to now that you are free as a bird!

Your options are:

Look for another job in the same field

You will already have an idea of good places to look for work in your field, including specialist agencies, specialist magazines and websites. Also, though, a lot of jobs are advertised in social media now so look on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and especially Linkedin for job opportunities that would work for you.

Also ‘like’ or follow employers you would like to work for. It’s good to keep in touch with your local jobcentre and look in newspapers for local jobs fairs in your area where you could meet a number of employers in one place.

Create your own job

Have you spent a few years thinking “they really need someone to do x here – I wonder why they haven’t thought of it”? This could be a gap in the market that only you have seen and that you could fill.

Write down some notes about what is needed and how you could meet that need then get in touch with companies you would like to work for where they clearly don’t have someone doing this. Show them what they need and how you could fulfill that need and suddenly you have created your own job.

Go freelance

If you’ve been doing this work for a while now, you will have all the experience necessary to continue doing it, but this time with yourself as the boss!

Being self-employed doesn’t suit everyone, but there are many advantages including flexible hours, sometimes naming your own price and having a variety of work.

Do something completely different

Now is a fantastic time to go in a completely different direction workwise, particularly if you have a bit of a redundancy package to fund you while you train for a new career.

Perhaps this is the opportunity you needed to start up a business you’ve always dreamed of running. Obviously you need to be sensible and have a realistic idea, but this is your chance to be a bit adventurous and go in a different direction.

There’s a lot of help online for people wanting to start up on their own, including information in the Government website( opens in a new tab). For example, here is their information on how to start a business from home( opens in a new tab).

Dust off your CV

If you are going for a new job, update your CV as early as possible, but don’t rush it. A CV can make the difference between getting an interview and not getting one.

The way it looks, as well as the facts within it, can catch the eye of a potential employer if it’s done right.

There’s a lot of help and information online for putting together a killer CV. For instance, the National Careers Service( opens in a new tab) offers lots of tips and examples so that you can produce a CV that is up-to-date and professional-looking.

Make sure your CV is:

  • Concise - doesn’t go over two pages.
  • Persuasive - demonstrates why you’re the perfect fit for this job.
  • Professional - includes all the essential information in a readable format and doesn’t include spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Tailored - Tailor your CV to the different jobs you apply for. It doesn’t have to be a major change each time, just a different emphasis and maybe a slight change in the way you describe yourself and your aims.

Also remember that you don’t have to make a direct reference to your age in your CV. Keep them guessing!

Big yourself up

You’ve got a wealth of experience on your side, so it’s important you highlight that in your CV and in your covering letter. Remind yourself of what you have to give and put that across in your CV. At your age, you will have a lot more to offer than you imagine.

For example, you have:

  • Experience – if you’re over fifty then the chances are that you have a long and useful career behind you already. You’ll have a wealth of experience that no graduate could hope to match.
  • Contacts – you will also have built up a network of contacts within your profession and elsewhere, which can help you get new work and could also be a big plus for your future employer.
  • Adaptability – by now you’ll be accustomed to changing procedures, techniques and technology, and you’ll have learned to change with them. A study conducted by the Medical Research Council in Cambridge( opens in a new tab) found that older brains actually adapt exceptionally well and in some cases may even become stronger and more active than those of younger people.

Network, network, network

One of the best ways to get work – whether it’s a new job or picking up freelance work – is through your friends and contacts. The more of those you have, the more chances you get of making money.

You can network in person and online. And it’s not just about going to networking events, although those can be helpful. You can network – in other words, make useful contacts – pretty much anywhere, for example:

  • At the gym
  • At parties
  • On the bus (if you’re friendly)
  • Around your neighbourhood

Just get friendly with people, find out more about them and see how you can give to them. Don’t go out looking for people who can help you. Start by helping them. Once you’ve got to know them, and shown that you’re on their side, let them know that you’re looking for work or that you’re open for freelance opportunities.

Also, get into networking online.

  • If you’re not already on Linkedin( opens in a new tab), set up a free profile there and start to connect with people you know. If you are on Linkedin already, update your profile, connect with more people, get former employers and connections to recommend you and look at the jobs section to see what’s available.
  • Join Twitter/x( opens in a new tab) and follow people and agencies in your field of expertise. Post interesting facts and news items relevant to your area and join in conversations about them. That will help to get you known by the right people.
  • Also use Instagram and Facebook to promote yourself and your skills. Facebook also has a lot of work-related or locality-specific groups that could be useful to you in your search for a new position.

Improve your skills

This is also a great time to update and increase your skills and knowledge. The more skills you have on your CV, the greater your chance of being interviewed and getting the job. It’s particularly helpful to have up-to-date technical knowledge too.

Happily, there are quite a few places you can go to online that offer free courses, so get started with those before you put your hand in your pocket to pay for training.

Ace that interview

If you are going for another job, rather than setting up your own business, you’re likely to face some interviews. If you haven’t done one for a while, the prospect can be daunting. But don’t let that put you off. Again, there is help online, including this article from my website( opens in a new tab).

First impressions are important, so some basic points to remember for interviews are to:

  • Be on time
  • Be presentable
  • Be friendly and, importantly,
  • Be enthusiastic.

The wide-eyed new young thing going for a job is often naturally enthusiastic but sometimes it’s harder for someone who has seen a lot of life to be enthusiastic about yet another job. However, it’s key for an employer to see someone who will be easy to work with, an uplifting person to have around and someone they can rely on.

The job site Indeed( opens in a new tab) has a lot of helpful advice on how to do well at an interview, including taking copies of your CV with you, researching the company beforehand and asking relevant questions.

Get some support

Happily there are lots of places you can go to to get help after redundancy. Here are a few of them:

  • If you think you’ve experienced age discrimination, either when applying for new jobs or from your previous employer, have a look at the section in the AgeUK website( opens in a new tab) dedicated to age discrimination law and your rights.
  • Of course, the Job Centre, has a lot of resources to help you get work. Also the Find a Job service( opens in a new tab) is a helpful place to look for work.
  • If you’re thinking of taking a new turn in your career or wondering how to go up a few rungs in what you’re doing, consider going to a ‘career mentor’. These are specialist life coaches who can guide your thinking about your career. They do cost but a good one will be worth the money. Find one here.
  • Find out loads of ways to get a job, write a killer CV, ace an interview and create job opportunities for yourself in the ‘Get a Job’ section of my website, opens in a new tab).

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.