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Whether you’re looking for work, want to start your own business or fulfil a long-term passion – starting a new career later in life can be challenging. We meet a woman who became a yoga teacher in her 60’s, career coaches and an older worker recruiter for tips and trends to help you make a successful career transition.
By
Amy Chien-Yu Wang

25 Sep 2017 - 3:05 PM  UPDATED 25 Sep 2017 - 3:05 PM

Despite years of classes, Derynthia Boyd never thought she’d be teaching yoga in her 60’s. After four decades in HR and recruitment, at 60 she took a voluntary retrenchment when the company offshored its operations.

“The year that I was away from work I started to think very seriously about what it was that I would like to do. I didn’t really give a lot of thought about whether I could do it. I just thought in terms of what I would like to do and then thought, well, I’ll think about the things that really I could see myself become very interested in and passionate about, and worry about how I get there later.”

Derynthia Boyd took a year training as a yoga teacher and another two years learning advanced anatomy in physiology. Now at 69 she is enjoying every second of her work teaching yoga at Yoga 50 Plus.

A chance encounter with a backpacking yoga teacher near the end of her travels inspired her to embark on an unexpected journey. 

“She said Derynthia, why don’t you teach yoga to people your own age? The problem is in Australia there’re no older teachers, they’re all very young; and that was sort of like a light bulb moment as I walked down the stairs. I knew that and within 10 days, I had set up Yoga 50 Plus.”

Derynthia Boyd took a year training as a yoga teacher and another two years learning advanced anatomy in physiology. Now at 69 she is enjoying every second of her work teaching yoga at Yoga 50 Plus.

“As an older person in a new venture, I had many days of doubting myself and I pushed through it and I’m glad that I did but yes there is a difficult time because you can read negative reports in the paper and you can see others and think I’m too old but keep engaged with people, keep engaged in your passions and your interests, and the confidence will flow with that.”

Author of “Rethink your career in your 40s, 50s and 60s” Joanna Maxwell is a career coach for people over 40.  She says with longer life expectancy, it’s not unusual for people to get into a new career later on in life. 

“The number of healthy years we can expect has increased by about four years so we’re living longer but we’re also much healthier and more energetic than, say, our grandparents were. So that opens up a whole lot of other career possibilities in your 50s and 60s and beyond.” - Joanna Maxwell, career coach

Starting a business is an attractive option for many. A recent Swinburne University of Technology and Queensland University of Technology study found that 34 per cent of all young firms in Australia are now led by seniorpreneurs with an average age of 57. But Joanna Maxwell warns against cashing in all your savings at once.

“Ask yourself why you want to start a business? Do you want to take over the world or you just want to monetise your hobby or earn a secondary income to support your partner or to help your grandchildren or whatever? Cos all those things will be really relevant.”

Starting a new business may seem like a huge mission but she says it’s about breaking down the steps into manageable chunks.

“Because it can seem like you’re jumping off a cliff but in fact, if you slowly build a bridge across, it’s so much easier just to take one step a day towards it; and I think you need to be a bit more creative about a career search in older life.”

She suggests testing the waters in a less risky environment first.

“There are really good opportunities in what we’re now starting to call a ‘gig economy’. So that’s things like renting out a room on Air B&B, or driving for Uber, or putting up tasks on Airtasker and websites like that. I think that could be quite a nice way to test whether you’re suitable for business before you cash in your saving.”

A recent Australian Human Rights Commission Report highlights that over a quarter of Australians aged over 50 had experienced some form of age discrimination in the last two years. This proves that ageism is still a major roadblock when it comes to finding work for mature workers.

Ailís Logan specialises in career coaching for skilled migrants, many of whom older workers. She says your attitude is what determines your success in landing that dream job. 

“You know, if you focus on cultural differences. If you focus on your age barriers, that’s all you see. That kind of puts the obstacles mentally or energetically, if you like, in your own way. So I get to people to say, ok, what things haven’t I thought about? What actions haven’t I taken?”

She gives an example of a middle-aged Vietnamese client with a banking background who ended up getting a good job despite not speaking perfect English.

“And I said let’s go and sort out your English at the same time as working on the opportunities. Initially, she was applying for particular types of jobs and getting rejected. We worked our way through looking at…I said to her every bank here. Have you gone to the banking association meetings? Have you networked here? Do you know people there? So we sort of built a repertoire of things she was going to do to help her get to her goal. In the end, she got a very good job with Citibank as an analyst.”

She says the biggest mistake job seekers make is sending the same resume over and over again.

“Number one having a very good resume that’s actually tailored to suit a job. It’s about very good application to the right jobs where you totally fit the bill and most people don’t do that. They just act out of desperation.”

"With almost 70 per cent of the Australian labour force employed by small to medium size enterprises, active networking can help to tap into this large hidden market where many employers are happy to hire mature workers." -  Ailís Logan, career coach

“If you’re an accountant or if you’re an engineer, no matter what you do, you should be getting out there and getting to know about the market, getting to know companies. Go and connect with people go and understand what companies are doing because even at the interview, you’re able to talk about what’s happening for that company in the market? Who their competitors are? What their business drivers are?”

Judy Higgins runs olderworkers.com.au, a recruitment website for mature workers. Many of her clients are small to medium companies seeking reliable staff over 45 years of age who can problem-solve and connect with customers. 

“Call centre work, retail work, office work, banking and in various areas, aged care and that goes from administration down to gardening, to preparing meals. A certificate 3 or 4 in aged care so that you can work in aged care and most people, even gardeners and people who work in the kitchens, often need to have that certificate 3 and 4 in aged care.”

There are jobs in growing industries which don’t require fluent English; however, she suggests getting a police check before applying.

“A lot of jobs these days require a police check. It basically means you’ve had that police check and you’re now clear to go into people’s homes, and aged care homes, and work with children. Once you’ve got that and it’s not very expensive to get, it really does open a whole lot of doors for you.” 

A Productivity Commission report released last year predicts 40 per cent of existing jobs could be threatened by digital disruption of technologies such as automation and machine learning in the next 10 to 15 years. Judy Higgins reckons with traditional jobs being rapidly disrupted by technology it’s important for job seekers to be prepared to learn new skills. 

“You need to be prepared to look at something that’s totally, totally different because a lot of the traditional jobs are disappearing and if you look at what you’ve done for the past 20 years it may not be there.”