Job hunting tips from Chiumento. Every month our resident panel of experts answer some of the most popular, challenging and unusual questions posed by job applicants.

We can’t answer every query individually but check regularly and you may well find your question being addressed.

I am over 50. What can I do to get selected when my competitors are so much younger?

Despite age discrimination legislation, it is almost impossible to avoid recruiters deciding that you are too old for a job they are looking to fill. However, it is important to remember that some organisations see the older generation as a positive advantage. You need to find out which do take a more positive view and focus your applications on them.

Some people try to disguise age. We have all seen photographs used which date back 10 or 20 years, but of course when you turn up for the interview it is pretty difficult to look 10 or 20 years younger than you are. Like other things in life the facts are what they are and the focus should be on finding where you are wanted, and not worrying about where you are not wanted.

All that said, keeping skills up to date and staying fit and active in your leisure is important, so that age is less of an issue and capability and suitability for the role really are what you are judged on. You can help with this by keeping yourself up-to-date and not falling into the trap of wistful reminiscence…“it wasn’t like that in my day”.

The government have produced a paper for employers to help them adopt more age-friendly recruitment processes and this includes some interesting statistics. Already the 50+ age group make up more than 25% of the workforce, so you are not alone, and the options to recruit younger people in some roles are very limited, so don’t despair.

I haven’t got much in the way of work experience and am looking for my first ‘proper’ job having completed my education. Most jobs ask for experience so how can I overcome this?

Rather than assume experience is restricted to experience gained in work, think what experience you have managed to amass in life. This may not be ‘formal’ work, but involve holding roles in your family, social, school or college life which require skills important in work. Leadership, teamwork, planning, project design, organising, counselling, communicating, developing etc. are all important skills in work and ones you may have some experience of from life to date.

It’s important to write down anything in your life that you have done so far where these kinds of skills – or indeed others relevant to your career plans – have been required and incorporate this into your CV. Whilst you can’t make up experience you haven’t had, demonstrating your desire to do the kind of work you are applying for helps overcome lack of experience. Then strengthen your profile by being very clear about your career plans, desire to learn, willingness to take on new challenges. Enthusiasm and determination all count for a lot if backed up at interview.

You could consider channelling your job search efforts through agencies which specialise in finding jobs for those seeking their first role. Some agencies have specialist divisions to support new graduates for example, and many organisations are keen to recruit raw talent direct from education. Remember whilst experience may be a plus, it can be a negative where organisations want ‘raw talent’ so they can teach their people to work in their preferred way, and avoid those who are already wedded to another way of working that doesn’t fit their culture.

I hated my last job and left voluntarily. Now I am worried about questions being asked as to why I left and am unsure how my resignation will be perceived.

To address this concern, you first have to feel comfortable with your own true story. If you were unhappy in your work you need to analyse why that was and what led you to take such a big step as to resign. Few are brave enough to do this.

Focus instead on what you learnt from the experience – namely you now know the sort of job you don’t want, which brings you closer to what you do want from your work. This allows you to create a very positive story and gives your future employer a clear message. You are someone who has taken a bad experience and turned it into useful self-awareness which you are now using to find a job that really will engage you.

Come back next month for more job hunting tips from Chiumento.