article image
Career blogsCareer tools

50 plus and applying for a job - how to overcome the age barrier

In a world where young is often synonymous with dynamic, applying for a job as an older job seeker can be challenging. Research shows that older jobseekers are facing age discrimination. In this article, we're going to look at how you can prevent that and how you can turn your age into an advantage instead of an obstacle. We provide tips for your application as well as guidelines for a convincing CV and cover letter.

The current working climate for older job seekers
Many people over the age of 40 will agree that age in the labour market will play a greater role after each birthday. 'Age is just a number' is often said. Unfortunately, as an applicant, you don't notice much of this. The numbers unfortunately also confirm this feeling. It is true that people are working more at later ages. For example, the net labour participation of 55 to 65-year-olds increased from 25% to 75%. Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends. Once unemployed, the chance of finding a job is only 10%. And the unemployment rate among 55 to 65-year-olds is the highest of all age categories... Fortunately, this percentage is somewhat decreasing. While unemployment among this group was still 10% in 2015, it has now fallen to around 5%.

A large-scale survey by trade union CNV among 21,000 older job seekers found that 20% of people over 50 are looking for work. 70% of them have trouble finding something. This group also has to deal with a lot of rejections on job applications. Especially given the current tightness in the labor market, these are worrying figures.

Age discrimination among older jobseekers

An important and often undiscussed aspect when applying for jobs for older job seekers is age discrimination. This is a form of discrimination in which job seekers are less likely to get a job based on their age. For older jobseekers, this often manifests itself in stereotypes that they are less flexible, less technologically savvy or less willing to learn new skills.

  • 75% of people over the age of 40 indicate that they have been labelled as 'old' at some point during the application process.
  • 67% of older job seekers do not feel welcome because of sentences in a job advertisement that contain words such as 'young team', 'great dynamic' or 'you are not older than 30'.
  • 10% of workers over 40 experience age discrimination in the workplace. This percentage increases to 18% among 50 to 59 year olds. The group aged 60 to 64 experiences the most age discrimination, with a percentage of 23% (source).
  • Employers often place a lot of emphasis on the importance of modern technology during an interview (even if the candidate has proven experience with it).

Rijksoverheid has also conducted research into age discrimination in vacancy texts. It was found that age requirements are regularly imposed directly or indirectly on candidates.

Article 1 of the Constitution and the Equal Treatment Act provide protection against all forms of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of age. Unfortunately, it is still common in practice. Older people often hear that they have not been hired 'because they do not fit into the team or the company culture'. This is a common tactic for companies to mask ageism.

Perceptions and misconceptions about older workers

Age discrimination is unfortunately common. Unjustified, because over the years various studies have shown that older employees perform the same or even better than younger employees.

• Age is not a significant barrier to learning new technologies. Many people over 55 are just as skilled at using modern technology as their younger colleagues.

• Older workers are a lot more stable and absent less (no stress from a young family).

• Older workers often bring a wealth of work experience, which can lead to better problem-solving and decision-making in the workplace.


Looking ahead and preparing from your 40th birthday

Before we discuss what you can do to successfully apply for a job as an somewhat older person, it is important to also look at what you can do while you are still employed. By taking action now, you will not only increase your attractiveness as a candidate, but you will also be better prepared for any unexpected changes in your career path.

1. Create and Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: If you don't have a LinkedIn profile yet, it's time to create one. Use this platform to maintain your professional network, showcase your skills, and stay up to date on trends and developments within your industry.

2. Active networking: Expand your network by attending events, making online connections and staying in touch with former colleagues. A strong network can be crucial when you find yourself out of work.

3. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations: A personal recommendation is often very powerful. Ask a colleague/manager/supervisor/director to write one.

4. Always keep learning and developing: Continue to develop yourself by taking courses and training. This shows that you are willing to grow and learn new skills, especially in the technology field.

5. Update your email address: Consider using a modern email address if you're still using an older system (for example, use @gmail instead of @hotmail). This may seem like a small detail, but it can say a lot about your willingness to move with the times.

6. Be prepared for the unexpected: Even if you are currently happy in your current role, it is wise to be prepared for unexpected changes. Update your resume regularly with the latest developments and successes of your career.

Tip: You could also start a professional blog within your field. This allows you to position yourself as an expert within your field and show that you are not digitally averse.


Applying for a job as a person over 50: this is how you go about it

The aforementioned studies make it clear that applying for jobs after the age of fifty can be a challenge. As an older applicant, you unfortunately have more homework to do. However, with the right approach and preparation you can turn challenges into opportunities. Here are practical tips for getting more job interviews, writing a compelling resume and cover letter, and acing successful job interviews.


What you can do to get more job interviews

  • Inform your network that you are looking for a new job. Be specific and specific in what you are looking for. This helps companies match vacancies to your qualifications and personality.
  • Proactively approach companies where you would like to work (even if they have no vacancies). Tell us what you can do, what you would like and what ideas you have for that specific company or organization.
  • Stay active on LinkedIn by posting comments on industry-related posts. This way you show your expertise and increase your visibility and involvement.
  • Set your LinkedIn profile to ‘Open to work’.
  • Don't sit behind your screen. Take action that you can include in your resume and cover letter. Visit conferences, take training courses or obtain a relevant certificate. Be willing to continue training and engage in lifelong learning.


Tips for a convincing resume

It may have been a while since you applied. In that case, your resume probably needs some extra attention. Below are a number of tips to modernize your CV and present yourself optimally:

• Keep it short and concise: As a person over 50, you have of course gained quite a bit of experience. However, a long CV is somewhat confusing. Therefore, use a maximum of two A4 pages. Focus your work experience mainly on the last 10 years.

• Put your LinkedIn profile on your CV: This shows that you keep up with the times and here you can also show your more extensive work experience that does not fit on the 2 A4.

• Limit yourself to the essential personal details: We often see that older applicants are inclined to include information such as marital status, nationality and the number of children. Nowadays it is advisable to keep it concise: only mention your name, job title, address, telephone number and email address.

• Stay away from statements about your age: Don't make comments in your CV such as “As someone who has been around for a while, I still remain…” or “Old in body but young in spirit”.

• Include a photo on your resume: This can really make or break your resume as an older applicant. Have a professional, recent photo in which you look confident. Avoid outdated photos and instead choose an image that exudes professionalism and energy.

• Use current job titles: A field salesperson is now often called an account manager. Nowadays a chef is often called a team leader or manager.

• Add hobbies: This can show that you lead an active life. It also gives an insight into your personality.

• Modern design: In the past, a simple, all-white CV was the norm, but nowadays a splash of color and creativity can be used. Therefore, ensure a modern design that is both visually appealing and professional.

• Write a strong personal profile: This is a small introductory paragraph at the top of your resume. Tell us who you are, why you are suitable, what successes and results you have achieved. Explain your ambitions and show that you are eager to learn.


Example profile:

Enthusiastic and results-oriented [jobtitle ] with [xx]+ years of experience in [core activity 1] and [core activity 2]. Proven success in leading cross-functional teams to [success 1 & 2], resulting in [SMART formulated result]. I am driven to use my extensive expertise at [Company Name] and contribute to the further success and growth of the company. I am always looking for new challenges and ways to increase my knowledge.


Article written by Reinier van der Galiën.


Back to the overview

Stay up to date with the latest news and jobs

Would you like to receive the latest jobs, career advice and/or news about BCF Career Events and courses in your e-mail box? 

Sign up for the BCF newsletter

Create a job alert

Do you want to receive the latest industry trends & developments in your e-mail box?

Sign-up for the free BiotechNEWS magazine


Upcoming events

Dutch Medicines Days

Dutch Medicines Days

  1. Oss
  2. 16 - 17 October 2024

The premier annual conference that unites professionals in pharmaceutical sciences

BCF Career Event

  1. Ghent
  2. 28 November 2024

Connecting employers to job seekers in Life Sciences

Innovation for Health

Innovation for Health

  1. Rotterdam
  2. 3 April 2025

Leading conference for key players in Health & Life Sciences!


BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

  1. Free download!

The magazine for the Dutch Life Sciences sector

Spotlight employers

CLS Services
Hyphen Projects uses cookies to remember certain preferences and align interests.
By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.