First published in Plus+ Magazine (NZ Herald / NZME)
Finding himself out of work late in life led one job hunter to start his own podcast about the struggles older job hunters face.
The Redundancy Podcast has thousands of listeners around the world; including New Zealand, Australia, the UK, US and South America.
One reason for the podcast’s popularity is that it appears to be the only English language one dedicated to job hunters aged in their 50s and 60s.
Dave Watts, who worked in a senior executive role for a regional police force in the UK was made redundant two years ago.
“It was the sixth time I had been made redundant,” he said.
The first five times Dave found himself out of work he landed a new job within a matter of months. This time though, now aged in his 60s, it’s not been so easy.
“I’ve always managed, after a reasonable amount of time, to get back eventually to a senior management position,” he says.
“But when I was made redundant at the end of 2017, I was then 63. And I realised it was going to be wholly different. And I found out very quickly the jobs that I had been applying for in the past, where I [normally] got interviews, I wasn’t.”
With time on his hands, Dave looked for a way to share his observations about life as an older job seeker and so started writing a blog. The blog was put on ice due to a spell of contract work and when he went to start it again he changed tack and began recording a podcast instead.
“I listen to podcasts a lot, it seemed to be something growing and easily acceptable,” he says. “I thought, well, I’ll use my voice to do it.”
Anyone hosting a podcast generally aims to produce one a week for the sake of continuity and to avoid being forgotten by listeners. However, Dave has gone against the trend and releases a new podcast every three or four weeks.
“It was just easier that way to think about the subject, mature it, and write it, because I wanted to keep the podcast down to about 10 minutes.”
With a career in corporate management, Dave has had little to do with audio production, websites or podcasting. But using a home computer and free software he began recording and taught himself audio editing. He uses a free account at SoundCloud to share and distribute his podcasts to places such as iHeartRadio.
“I suppose it was a bit of a muddle to start off with,” he says. “So technically, I knew how to do it. But I had no idea whether it would be successful. I learned on the way.
“It was the other bits and pieces … How do you find an audience? How do you market it? What length does it have to be? What message does it have to have? That took time.”
Dave’s audience for each podcast is between 2500 and 3000 people and climbing. The largest area is the USA, the UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.
“I’m quite pleased with that, because it’s me. I’m in my room in Stratford upon Avon, my equipment is my MacBook and a microphone.”
He has been approached by recruiters and CV writers wanting to feature in his podcast, but he is careful to select people who are a good fit for his show.
“I have turned people away because they are not talking about my core subject, which is the challenge of finding work as an older person. And that is a global problem,” says Dave.
“It seems to be that recruiters are typically younger and conflate youthfulness with performance, and give a negative correlation to someone who’s older. And I think a number of assumptions are kicking in.
“There is both covert discrimination and overt discrimination, and unconscious bias as well. You walk into a room for a job interview and you can see people’s faces go ‘oh, they’re older’.
“Older workers can and do get good jobs. But it’s difficult. I have spoken to a lot of people now and there is no silver bullet or resume for old workers. You’re in there against younger competitors, you have to show that you have exactly the same relevance and skills for the job.”
Dave says making the podcast is his way of contributing while job hunting.
“It keeps me motivated, it keeps me interested,” he says. “It makes me think creatively about the subjects that I want to discuss. It makes me contact people that I think will be interesting to interview.”
The Redundancy Podcast on Spotify
- Job hunting tips for older workers
- Remain digitally adept
- Remain relevant.
- Demonstrate professional curiosity and lifelong learning.
- Even if you’re unemployed, you have to be able to demonstrate that you’re doing something in the community.
- At job interviews don’t brag about knowing software that no one uses any more.
- Source / Dave Watts