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Lots of job offers in my 30s, none in my 40s - anyone else?

(52 Posts)
windygallows Wed 29-Nov-17 18:10:09

I'm late 40s and a senior manager in the arts. I've just found out I've been unsuccessful in another job interview, one I really wanted (sigh). I've had 7 job interviews in the last 2 1/2 years and have never had a job offer. I'm going for slightly more senior or sideways roles. I'm v qualified and have won a number of national/sector awards in the last few years and have a good reputation - so a lot to shout about.

Compare this with the period from age 30 - 42 when every role I interviewed for I was offered. Every single one and there were 7 of them (some I turned down, some I accepted).

I haven't changed as a person (except to get more experience - if anything I'm better at what I do now). I know I probably need to practice my interview style etc but I used to do well....

Is this an age thing? Do employers prefer women under 40? Has anyone experienced similar? Or do I just need to hike up my boots and keep trying (which I will do).

Codlet Wed 29-Nov-17 18:12:13

Could it be an industry thing (I know nothing about your sector)? More jobs were available 10 years ago than now? I hope it’s not your age sad

windygallows Wed 29-Nov-17 18:32:58

I'm not sure Codlet, that's why I'm asking. Industry IS very competitive but I've gained so much interesting experience in the last 10 years. My ego is feeling a bit bruised and I guess I was wondering if anyone else had similar experiences?

2017RedBlue Thu 30-Nov-17 13:17:06

It's because as you go higher up the food chain there are literally less opportunities and more and more candidates to vie for those posts.

So at age 30, there may have been 1000s of roles and 1000s of people to fill them. Now at 40, there are still the same number in work but say only 300 posts to fill at a more senior level. Not everyone can fill a senior manager post, as there aren't so many roles to fill.

At close to 50 I guess it's even less - and yes there may be an ageist element to it.

What do you feel innately inside yourself is 'off'?

Do you really want each job? If you're side-stepping, why are you side-stepping?

And what's wrong with where you are?

Have you read anything around the subject? How can you learn from some older women in industry who have kept moving up?

Clearly on paper you look interesting as you've had 7 interviews. So yes it sounds more like the interview itself that needs work. You can definitely improve that so don't worry!

windygallows Fri 01-Dec-17 12:27:54

HI Redblue I do get the concept that as one goes higher up there are less jobs available however I'm not much more senior than I was 15 years go so hard to see why it's now become so tricky to secure roles.

I'm trying to move north and slightly move across sectors. Not unhappy in current role just think the sweet spot age for roles is 35-40 and after that one is too old.

Viviennemary Fri 01-Dec-17 12:33:59

I don't know anything about your sector either. Is it a known sector for preferring and promoting younger people. Some professions seem to value age and people in their fifties get promotion. I'm not ambitious myself but have known quite a few ambitious people. Their method appears to be just keep applying and applying and preparing and preparing for interviews and do research. Perseverance is the key I think. Just keep going and try and get advice from senior people as to what they are looking for at interview and application forms. But you probably know all this anyway. Hope you find something suitable.

user1470584717 Sat 02-Dec-17 20:27:40

I feel the same, I walked into jobs when I was 20s, was at home in my 30s, now at 40s looking for something even at much junior level than I was is really hard even though I have all those experience.

BearFoxBear Sat 02-Dec-17 20:35:19

Yes, same here too at 42. I've had 6 interviews this year and no joy. Prior to that I've been offered literally every job I interviewed for and turned plenty down.

CharisMama Sat 02-Dec-17 20:37:41

This was my experience too. Recruitment agencies will only send women under forty to interviews I think. I got loads of offers when I knew less, had fewer courses, less experience and when taking maternity leave would have been a 'risk' for an employer. Now I'm back, and competing with 22 years olds it seems. I have a job but each job I've got since I turned forty has been very, very, very hard won.

CharisMama Sat 02-Dec-17 20:40:31

Windygallows, my name ages me too, think Lisa (not Lisa but you get the picture) I was thinking of putting a younger name on my CV, like Lia and seeing if that made a difference.

I would have done linkedIn to match.

windygallows Sun 03-Dec-17 15:57:54

Charis, Bear, user it's good to know I wasn't going crazy and others are feeling similar, even if it's not good that we're all experiencing this phenomenon.

I agree about headhunters/recruitment agents not putting forward older women - they themselves are often quite young so a 45 year old woman must feel ancient to them, crone-like in fact.

Bearfox sorry you've had such a slog applying for jobs. It's the same for me - I've actually interviewed for 10 jobs in the last 2 1/2 years, some heading to 2nd and 3rd interviews, so I've probably had about 25 interviews in total. It's been brutal. I followed who had been recruited for the posts and in general they were either given to (a) internal candidates (b) men my age or (c) women between the ages of circa 33-35. It's very depressing.

goteam Sun 03-Dec-17 19:53:38

Windygallows that does sound depressing. I'm applying for an arts job slightly more senior than my current role and worried about the ageism thing. I think you're right about the 35-40 sweet spot and that's unfortunately also the time when many women focus on families. Almost 40 now and ready to re-focus on career now kids at school but fear all the jobs I'm interested in will go to younger folk without kids. I plateaued for around 7 years as the main carer and stayed in more junior roles that could be done part time.

It sucks. We still have 15-25 years of work in our age bracket so shouldn't be overlooked.

BewareOfDragons Sun 03-Dec-17 20:02:21

it's terrifying. Age discrimination is alive and well, and there are fewer higher level jobs to fight over, too. Plus, a lot of jobs are about to leave this country imo due to brexit.

windygallows Sun 03-Dec-17 20:48:49

goteam - 40 is still young (I think!) and good luck for your job. Senior arts jobs are hard to come by so fab that you've found something that you think might suit you!

windygallows Sun 03-Dec-17 20:50:00

Beware I forgot about Brexit too. In my head I thought it would be easy to move up the 'corporate ladder', certainly something I thought when I was young. Turns out it's much harder than I thought it would be and talent/skill/achievement isn't often the main decider. Being an older woman just makes it even more complicated and difficult.

goteam Sun 03-Dec-17 22:29:52

Thanks windy it's only 'manager' level and I was doing that pre-kids but everyone at the organisation seems to be in their 20's apart from a male director in their 50's. Had a nosy on the website. No older women.

Unless you've already reached a high level in your 30's which in certain industries is hard without connections, women seem stuck career wise from 40...

user1470584717 Mon 04-Dec-17 19:32:02

Does anyone know why is this happening? Are sahm being looked down? Does career break make you look lazy? I work in a male dominated field, every single person interviewed me were males and mostly slightly younger than me. Mind you I only went for junior roles because of my big career gap. I simply don't feel welcome as an older woman (i am 42), I can not compete with a young, less knowledge and less experience person. My situation is completely different to 10 years ago. I wish someone told me before I gave up my career for my family. I didn't even enjoy being a sahm, it was the hardest job I ever had.

windygallows Mon 04-Dec-17 20:43:10

user I'm sure SAHMs are looked down on in the workforce, no question of that but I think what i'm talking about is women of a particular age. I've been in continuous employment. I think the issue is just that women of a certain age are way less attractive to employers.

QueenofWhatever Mon 04-Dec-17 20:54:15

I think it may also be industry specific. I’m 48 and in NHS management, there are plenty of senior jobs being offered to women like me. I’ve been encouraged to apply and offered a few in the last year or so. But I don’t want a senior anymore and have gone back to being a middle manager which is more manageable and less stressful.

Most recruiting panels are middle aged women heavy, so there may be an argument for recruiting ‘people like me’.

My personal view is that being a SAHM is one of the worst things you can do if you want a decent career. I know it will get me shouted down here, but it makes you less credible. Always work at least part time.

gingergenius Mon 04-Dec-17 20:54:28


user1470584717 Mon 04-Dec-17 21:57:54

Being a less attractive 42 woman and had 9 years of career break I am totally screwed then!

gingergenius Mon 04-Dec-17 22:42:36

I've gone back to uni as my career break has proven fatal!

Nasreen Tue 05-Dec-17 11:02:48

Oh god, well that's me done for then! 46, ex teacher, lots of transferable skills, willing to learn new ones; no one wants me! Could be an age thing it seems??

Glinko Tue 05-Dec-17 11:09:18

I found this too, once I was over 40 and needed to look for work I found it easier to work for myself than get another job. The jobs I might have been young enough for I was over qualified and the jobs I was qualified for they wanted someone younger.

berliozwooler Tue 05-Dec-17 11:09:44

Getting a job as a more senior (in experience not age) job is harder because you are perceived as likely more demanding, expensive and competent and may show up your boss. There is undoubtedly age and discrimination as a factor. However I've ended up with two offers at once in recent years and I'm 42.

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