Put yourself in the shoes of a 55-year-old family man, happily married with two daughters, and nearly 30 years of experience working in the finance sector. Would you step out of your comfort zone to explore new career horizons?
Caption: Gerard’s unconventional move away from an established career earned him a mention by PM Lee in his National Day Rally 2016 speech.
Turning age into an edge
An avid cyclist, Gerard likened his career aspirations to his hobby, “Biking has brought me to many new and unexpectedly beautiful places. I don’t see how this should be any different for my career”.
One roadblock he expected in his job search? Age.
“I have the knowledge and experience from my previous roles, so I know I’m well qualified for the positions I had applied for. But I also understand how some employers may think that younger people can work faster or longer than me. I don’t believe that to be true because I feel I still have much more to contribute,” Gerard mused.
SMEs are difficult to work in? Says who?
Gerard placed his resume in the National Jobs Bank, and had three interviews with different companies before Datapost, a local small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), picked up his resume from the jobs portal. He subsequently got the job after interviews with his forward-thinking bosses.
Thomas Wee and Lim Cho Tat saw potential in Gerard, “His wealth of experience, failures, and successes, is exactly why we hired him. Frankly, only someone who knows exactly what he’s doing can give us the confidence that he can deliver”.
Photo caption: Thomas (left) and Cho Tat (centre) shared with Gerard exciting new challenges during his interview.
Both of them firmly believe that while skills are important, wisdom provides the foresight and gumption that can sustain a business in the long run.
“Cho Tat, myself, and about 30% of our staff are also over 50 years old, so why would we see maturity as a problem?” Thomas explained with a laugh.
Datapost, which does business printing and mailing solutions, is vastly different from a finance MNC. Armed with confidence forged from his years in the workforce, Gerard shared his vision and work philosophy with his team, who appreciates it when he introduces them to new ways of looking at things.
Photo caption: Since joining Datapost, Gerard has grown a strong IT team.
Even though his current job scope in data privacy is similar to his background, Gerard did need some time to adapt to the dynamic work environment of an SME, compared to the more structured processes of a MNC. “People sometimes are fixated on the idea that SMEs and MNCs are very different. Yes, SMEs operate more fluidly, but I think it’s really more of keeping an open mind to accept change and giving yourself time to adjust,” Gerard feels.
His bosses smiled when asked how they felt about their decision, “Gerard is exactly who we needed to get us up to speed as we build our IT capabilities. We wanted ideas on how to serve our customers better, and Gerard was able to do that for us by drawing on his experience.”
Tips for embarking on your next career
One bit of career advice Gerard wants to share with other mature job seekers, “You have to accept the fact that things may never be the same, be it benefits, working conditions, or pay. Change is inevitable, so embrace the challenges that come with it.”
On challenging the stereotype that older candidates don’t excel at interviews, “Dare to sell your job experience and knowledge. You must be confident in your ability to contribute”.
“Change is inevitable, so embrace the challenges that come with it.”
Adapt so you can Grow
The Career Support Programme (CSP) made this successful job match much sweeter.
Through CSP, mature new hires like Gerard benefit from structured on-the-job training. Employers like Datapost also enjoy wage support of up to $25,200 per year for suitable candidates.
“Programmes like CSP were not on our minds when we interviewed Gerard. But it helps SMEs like us attract experienced local talents like Gerard. Every dollar counts, so government support like this is definitely a bonus,” Thomas remarked.
CSP is one of three Adapt & Grow programmes for Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). It is aimed at helping both jobseekers and employers adapt to changing job and economic demands.
Are you a PMET interested to move on to your next career?
The Career Support Programme (CSP) may be for you. Contact Workforce Singapore (WSG) Career Centres at 6883 5885 or Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) Career Centres at 6474 0606 to apply.
For more information about Adapt & Grow, click here.