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Coping with redundancy at 50

Jasmine Birtles - Money expert.

Jasmine Birtles

Money expert, financial journalist, TV and radio personality

Last updated 29th April 2020

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.

First steps

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 you 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 Gov.uk 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 here.

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 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 and broadband. 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:

To 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. For example, here is their information on how to start a business from home.


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 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 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, 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 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.

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.

  • Vision to Learn offers a lot of different courses in subjects like computer skills, sports coaching, money management and business skills. They can lead to a recognised NVQ qualification which should improve your job prospects.
  • The website, OpenLearn is run by The Open University and has a section of free courses that include languages, maths, digital literacy, grammar, education, business studies, design and much more.
  • Typing skills are also a major bonus in a lot of office-based jobs. Test yourself online at sites like Typing Test and aim for 50-80wpm to compete in the workplace. The website helps you get faster by giving you typing practice and support with the difficult keys.
  • The job agency, Reed, offers free courses on its website including health and nutrition and business administration.
  • The Government also offers help in training and improving your career skills. Find out here how to apply for that.

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.

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 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 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 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, MoneyMagpie.com

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife and who provides the SunLife Guaranteed Over 50 Plans?

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services , registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG, United Kingdom (registered in England and Wales, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the SunLife Guaranteed Over 50 Plan life insurance policies. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG, United Kingdom (registered in England and Wales, no. 1016269).

Who provides the Funeral Benefit Option?

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services, registered office: 4 King Edwards Court, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP (registered in England and Wales, No. 00041598). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.