How to carry on working past 60

It looks as if you are going to be working into your late 60s. So how are you going to keep on top of your game and avoid being put out to grass? Here's a crash course.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2014

Keep fit. Your job may not involve hauling bricks, but being physically fit pays dividends: it can help you avoid health problems, keep a psychological edge, stay alert and give you more energy, as well as influence how people think of you. 'Management can be pretty sedentary and you need to make a positive effort to keep yourself in shape,' says Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Lancaster University Management School.

Never stop learning. Organisations have a tendency to give up on training people beyond their fifth decade, says Chris Brooks, policy adviser at Age UK. 'Identify the skills you need now and in the future, and make it clear that you expect to continue your personal development.' Cognitive stimulation helps keep you mentally agile, says Cooper. 'Go to conferences, meet people and show others that you are in learning mode and haven't given up.'

Present yourself. Out-of-date clothes and grooming send people a message that you are out of touch. 'Invest in a haircut and smart clothes, and above all take care that you don't look dowdy,' says Peter Shaw, executive coach at Praesta Partners.

Show some attitude. Make sure your demeanour is positive and be open to innovation. Take the initiative and show others you are still a force to be reckoned with, says Shaw. 'Offer to chair that meeting, take responsibility for a project, offer to do things,' he says. 'The moment you are on the back foot you're dead.'

Play to your strengths. You may struggle to compete with the young turks on every front, but you have knowledge and experience that are of great value to your organisation. 'Mentoring employees can be key to retaining talent, and will earn you credibility,' says Cooper.

Think flexible. See if you can negotiate more flexible hours and even work some of the time at home. 'Pace yourself,' says Cooper. 'Prioritise what matters and don't consistently work long hours.'

Tweet. Technology is moving fast and it's essential to stay up to date with developments such as social media, even if you're aware of their limitations.

Know your rights. Perception and performance are most important in protecting your employability, but know your legal position. 'Under the Age Discrimination Act, employers can't treat you differently because of your age, for example, denying you training,' says Brooks. You can't be made redundant because of age, so it's important you put up a good case on other criteria.

Do say: 'I've got some interesting ideas on how we could leverage social media that I'd like to develop'

Don't say: 'We tried that in the 1970s. It didn't work then and it won't work now'.

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