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Advice for mature students

Getting your dream job can be hard, but it can be even harder if you are entering the job market as a mature graduate. However, older graduates have the one thing that younger graduates dream of - experience - whether that's from work or life.

Am I too old? Employers Perspective Watch our video on what employers have to say about age and what they’re looking for. 6 minutes 40 seconds

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At 01:48

Rebecca Fielding of Grad Consult

So interestingly when I was a graduate recruiter, in the region of eight to ten per cent of our applicants were over forty. and I was always extremely positive about attracting and engaging with that cohort of mature students, who were often looking to change careers and looking for a graduate scheme or graduate opportunity which allowed them to do that. I think so I always viewed it extremely positively interestingly the mature students that I often interviewed or took further in the process weren't always as confident about their level of skills and knowledge and experience as I would hoped and wanted them to be so it was almost an apologetic perspective for being an older student. So my advice is always be positive about that because from an organisational perspective all the students who I recruited onto graduate schemes actually often delivered much greater success for me. So at twenty-one most graduates don’t know what they don’t know yet. They apply to multiple different employers and intend to stay probably for in the region of two to five years. So that’s a big investment for long term not that great deal in terms of retention whereas I knew those people who were applying to be in their forties, fifties and beyond still had a good deal of their career left. Twenty plus years for those in their forties certain and they were making significant life decisions with high levels of commitment, understanding and experience and they were making informed decisions about who they wanted to work for and why and were intending when they applied to stay with us for some considerable time. so I always viewed them hugely positively as I say I am not entirely sure that the students I interviewed and took further in the process were as confident and as positive about what they were bringing to the table in that – in that position.

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At 3:25

Kelly Marwick of IBM

I can say from an age point of view as particularly the graduate recruitment programme we have absolutely no upper age limit for anyone. Anyone who has you know been to university and secured their degree can apply. all that I would say just some advice I suppose to students perhaps in that position who maybe came and studied at the OU a bit later in life or perhaps a career changes that it’s completely up to them which scheme they apply to. They are more than welcome to apply to the graduate programme but equally we do have our experienced higher programme as well where they may feel that perhaps due to experience they’ve had already or perhaps just not necessarily wanting to go through a kind of intense training programme that you get with the graduate programme they may feel that applying as an experienced hire is a better fit for them where they are in their life at the moment.

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At 5:10

Rebecca Fielding of Grad Consult

I think some organisations would have some concerns about recruiting an older person. It might be about the length of their career that they have remaining if they're in their sixties. It might sometimes be about their energy levels or ambition or hunger. I think a nber of those are old-fashioned myths but that really don’t exist. but they pervade unfortunately for many people. And the key for me is to dispel those myths and to demonstrate to people that you have an awful lot to give and that you can break those stereotypes that people may possess. Some of the most energetic, ambitious and inspiring people I know are well into their sixties and seventies.

Try to match your experience to the job requirements, and be prepared to produce more than one version of your CV. Fully research each employer and occupation. Check some of the frequent questions mature students have about producing a CV.

To help you identify skills related to OU study that are of value to an employer, try our Employability Skills Activity.

Ten top tips for mature graduates

  • Produce a concise CV that clearly outlines all relevant experience.

  • If you get an interview you're half way there, so be confident!

  • Use positive language in applications and at interviews. Never apologise for your age.

  • Use contacts from previous jobs/friends/family - create your own network.

  • Identify the skills you developed from previous work, studies, and life experience - e.g. teamwork, communication and adaptability.

  • Stress your ability to hit the ground running - you know all about working for a living.

  • Demonstrate your experience of making effective business decisions, and give examples.

  • Highlight your time management and self-motivational skills.

  • Demonstrate mixed-age experience.

  • Convey your reliability, loyalty and confidence to manage change.

(Prospects Directory 2007/8)