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Senior markets: a guide to reemployment

By Sander Joziasse, Pia Heumann & Hidde Twerda

At the beginning of the VC journey, our topic was really general and broad: “Senior Markets”. We had several options in which direction we could move and identified two topics that captured our attention. One of them was the exclusion of seniors in the technological market. Meaning, that most of our electronics are designed for the liking of the younger generations but not for the older generations. Another topic was the exclusion of seniors in the job market. The mindset of older people is currently shifting and many prefer to keep working, even after they have reached the retirement age. A lot of them would prefer a calmer setting with shorter working days, but they still want to contribute to society. This is sadly not facilitated by many companies as older employees are less likely to be hired by employers compared to young employees. After investigating the second option a little further, we noticed that the long-term unemployment rate of the age group above 50 was far higher than from any other age group. While young people usually find a job quite quickly, older people are struggling with finding a job once they are jobless above the age of 50.

We identified two reasons why this was the case. The first reason was the stigma around older people. Companies and society perceive them as rigid, unteachable, slow, and expensive. Therefore, companies do not consider re-employing. Another reason was that they lack the skills to apply for jobs. For most of their careers, they have stayed with the same companies, and thus they have not applied to jobs for a long while. Young people on the other hand are used to changing their positions and employers more often, as these are the new market developments.

After a lot of back and forth, we agreed to work on the second issue. We noticed in this topic a lot of sub-topics could also be addressed. We found that the project was difficult to scope down. Furthermore, it was hard to find the right people that we can talk to. And even if we found someone we did not know what we should talk about with them as we did not have an idea in which direction the project would go. This caused us to lose some motivation as there was no clear end goal.

At a later stage in the process, we found our final idea for a value product, which is a questionnaire and a step-by-step guide to reemployment. With this more detailed idea and the pressure of a short timeframe to develop it, we also found our motivation again. The product inspires the user with the questionnaire which was developed in collaboration with a job coach to think about his current situation, his goal, and which actions he needs to take to achieve his goal. It helps to identify gaps in his skills and motivates him to find ways to fill these gaps as well as looking for jobs outside of your past job experiences and industry. The step-by-step guide gives tips and tricks on writing application documents like the CV and letter of motivation. It also gives tips about the job interview, mental and physical wellbeing as well as links to further resources. When developing the product, we had the target group of people who have not applied to a job in a while in mind. Still, it can be used by everyone who needs a little help getting started with their application.

We learned that planning is key in the process of organizing a project in such a complicated setting as the Value Creators. At first, we did not plan properly but after a few weeks, we started to develop a plan with internal deadlines and smaller goals. This gave us an idea of what we can do in that week and what needs to be done in the coming weeks. If we had planned earlier, some stress that arose during the end would have been avoided.

Additionally, we learned to contact and involve people earlier in the process. As we did not have an idea about what exactly we wanted to address with our project, we hesitated to contact people as we weren’t sure what we should discuss with them. Looking back, we should have involved them more in the process of coming up with an idea and we should have started contacting the stakeholders earlier.

The last thing that we would change is the involvement of the target group. In the beginning, we thought we might ask some people who sought help at a recruitment office if they would be interested to talk to us, but that wasn’t possible due to the Corona situation. This limited our options to connect to the target group and we only talked to some people in our immediate environment. Because of this, we only included professionals who have worked or are working with the target group but not the target group itself for the development of the final product

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