How Old Is Too Old For Career Transition?


How old is too old for career transition is a question that most of us looking for a change in the sector or line of work face at various stages of the career. INSEAD alumni Antoine Tirard, Claire Harbour-Lyell and Neil Courtis have come up with eight reasons why a career switch is possible while overcoming age-based discrimination.

The first point is that learning agility or leadership potential remain unaffected by age. It is your attitude that determines whether you see yourself as adaptable or as someone unable to overcome self-imposed limitations.

Secondly, with increasing talent shortages across the world, the number of older workers is also on the rise. Writing in the INSEAD blog Knowledge, the alumni quotes a Mercer study to say that by 2050, the number of people over 65 years old will triple worldwide and those over 80 will quadruple.

The sixth point is about upgrading your ability to embrace new technologies including self-study, peer-learning and inter-generational mentorship.

Combined with reduced birth rates, the result is severe skills shortages. With the right attitude, you will be able to make use of the situation to your advantage.

The third point is that a growing number of firms have realised the value of mature workers and some even have rolled out special programs like Daimler AG’s “Take experience into the future” project, and IKEA’s “silver recruitment” drive, which aim to derive value from experience.

Fourthly, you could always use the fact of having vast experience to your advantage over younger professionals, especially if you possess the attributes of flexibility, confidence, cool-headedness, resilience and objectivity.

Fifthly, you should learn to ignore the naysayers and focus on hiring managers who appreciate and value experience. You would also be probably better off sending your CV directly to your future boss than to HR.

The sixth point is about upgrading your ability to embrace new technologies including self-study, peer-learning and inter-generational mentorship.

The seventh point is about using your network to create new connections relevant to your proposed new industry. Join professional groups online and offline. Coaching might also help you with your search or entire career transition.

And finally, the eighth point is about bringing forth the active, passionate part of your personality during interviews and networking activities.

Antoine Tirard is a talent management advisor and the founder of NexTalent. Claire Harbour-Lyell is a coach and global talent expert, the founder of Culture Pearl and a speaker, consultant and writer about all things to do with optimising talent across borders. Neil Courtis is the Managing Director of Sensible Media.


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