After a third career redundancy and frustrated by his job search, Noel Cunneen briefly joined anxious career-twilight job hunters in the LinkedIn community Black Dog Group.

Now, as a Hamilton-based recruiter with EVP Recruitment he has better and more positive ideas to offer the older set. It’s a sales pitch, he says.

Employers want to hear why they should pay you, so make your pitch interesting, colourful and modern. A CV just listing your past achievements won’t cut it.

In good news, companies seem to be changing their attitude on senior workers, and adapting to what they would like from a job.

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“It’s not so bad now, there was a time when people over 50s really struggled to even get a job. I was among them and applied for a lot of jobs,” Cunneen says.

“Companies need to have different thoughts about what work should look like for seniors.

“They are people who want to spend time with grandkids, not go to work at 7am and come home at 6pm just to compete for the top jobs.

“Don’t expect all seniors to want fulltime work. They have huge knowledge and experience which they are keen to share. And they just get on with the job. They don’t want to be CEO any more.”

Recruiter Noel Cunneen.


Recruiter Noel Cunneen.

Seniors are wanting to work on, though. With house prices soaring, fewer are reaching the age of superannuation entitlement (65) mortgage free. Eeconomic conditions are mitigating against both paying off the mortgage, and being able to save.

In the Working Seniors Report 2023 fewer than half (43%) of working over 50s felt on track to retire at the age they prefer, research for New Zealand Seniors by CoreData showed. It surveyed 500 Kiwis over 50.

Those expecting to delay retirement increased significantly over the last 18 months, from 23% in 2021 to 37% in 2023.

Already, one third of New Zealand’s workforce is aged 55+, the Retirement Commission says.

Among New Zealanders aged 65-69, 44% still have jobs.

The after-tax NZ Super rate for couples (who both qualify) is based on 66 per cent of the ‘average ordinary time wage’ after tax. That’s $763 a fortnight.

If a couple retires at 65 with a $200,000 nest egg, they’ll have an average $153 a week on top of Super, if they live to 90 (calculation doesn’t include interest).

Working past 65 increases the amount of money you have, and it reduces how long you need it to last.

If the couple saved another $100,000 in five years – they will have an additional $135 a week.

Former Wellington recruitment director Lindsay Jackson.


Former Wellington recruitment director Lindsay Jackson.

Seniors will increasingly need to persuade employers to give them jobs, when many fear ageism is mitigating against that. Going for a job interview can be akin to dating again, when it’s been decades since the last time.

That’s often only the case in their minds, says Lindsay Jackson, for more than a decade a director of Wellington recruitment firm JacksonStone & Partner.

“Employers actually do like the stability older candidates can offer. They’re still very much in demand,” she says.

“Even as late as last year, we were still placing 70-year-old plus people, as contractors and candidates.”

Her advice is for all workers to stay contemporary, especially in IT skills. The days of having a secretary to book appointments, send off and do other computer-based tasks are gone.

SeniorNet Federation executive officer Grant Sidaway talking to Timaru members about the digital future.

Bejon Haswell/ Stuff

SeniorNet Federation executive officer Grant Sidaway talking to Timaru members about the digital future.

“Especially during COVID people became a lot more self-sufficient. Staying contemporary is really important, to be able to do your own Word, PowerPoint, mail merges … whatever it may be,

“We do see quite a number of the older candidates that haven’t kept up with those skills.”

As well, candidates should be clear what they want, and don’t want (staff management for example), while indicating they are open to opportunities, Jackson says.

“It’s being real about what your strengths are, what makes you happy and coming to work, because if you’re going to work for longer, it’s a big part of your life.”

“If you really enjoy being an event manager and say you really enjoyed it, say I’m quite open to new opportunities. Recruiters will then look a bit more laterally, because they want to get placements on behalf of clients.”

Don’t over do the CV, turning it into a boring list. Do check out what the dress code is, to get a feel for it, and show at the interview that you can fit the culture.

Don’t use old examples to try to relate to more current employment, citing a business that no longer exists like the Ministry of Works.

Don’t over-share personal information.

“Younger candidates would never dream of coming in and saying I’ve got two children and on a Wednesday I take them to soccer and I’m on my third marriage,” Jackson says.

“Older candidates can tend to do that, just pull back. When you go to an interview -for candidates of all ages – you have to be real, you have to be who you are, and who you want to present.”

And being who you are means you don’t have to resort to i anti-aging products like botox to make yourself look younger. i.

“I’m not sure I would feel comfortable to go to a workplace where they judged how many wrinkles you’ve got.

“It’s really around substance and your personality, your chemistry and hanging out with the culture.”

Seniors@Work boss Ian Fraser runs an agency where he matches situations vacant, with older applicants.

Chris McKeen

Seniors@Work boss Ian Fraser runs an agency where he matches situations vacant, with older applicants.

CEO of Seniors@Work Ian Fraser has tips for those feeling insecure about pursuing a new job opportunity:

  • Be ready to take up any opportunity presented – whether an upskilling course is offered at work or you are seeking new skills – it will help. Developing skills can make an immense difference, increasing knowledge and building confidence, opening opportunities, making work more fulfilling and meaningful.

  • Avoid including work experience more than 15 years-old. If an older person submits a CV saying how proud they are of their work in the 70s or 80s, many recruiters won’t read on.

  • In your CV – prepare a paragraph or two highlighting your work readiness and transferable skills. You will have built many valuable skills over the decades.

  • Prepare: research the company and prepare for an interview. Job search is more of a science now.

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