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HAYS candidates talk about their search for work - #DiversityWorks

“Sometimes you've already lost all hope”

Kathelijne (58) watched her employer go bankrupt after a career spanning 37 years. She worked for the receiver for a while, but then she was at home. “No way”, she thought. And she took action.

“I worked in the same company for more than 30 years”, Kathelijne Poleyn starts. “It was quite a shock when we found out about the bankruptcy.” Sitting in front of us is an energetic lady, whose stature does not show she is ‘already’ 58 years of age. Despite a long working day and miserable weather outside, her optimism immediately fills the room.

“But it's been different”, she adds. “Many of my ex-colleagues who were also over 50, also had doubts about finding another job. They had already lost any hope. And yes, I had a hard time too.”

But do nothing? No way!

Following the bankruptcy of the company where she had started as an accountant and then switched to the logistics department, Kathelijne briefly worked for the receiver, but that soon came to an end. “A month after the bankruptcy, I was at home”, she says. “It really is not for me. I felt I still had far too much energy to not be doing anything anymore.”

She started looking for a new job immediately. “And because of my age I knew this would not be easy”, she says immediately. “But every time a temping agency or company rejected me I still felt disappointed. My age was never mentioned, but I knew what my profile and CV were worth which meant the fact that I was 58 was clearly the issue.”


The many rejections took their toll. “I became really discouraged, because I was not being given any chance to prove myself”, she says, just as indignant as then. “Although I had started to lose all hope, I responded to a vacancy via Hays recruitment agency. My expectations were low, because it was probably the so-manieth agency to shelve my CV as soon as they saw how old I was.”

“But I was pleasantly surprised when I was invited practically immediately for an interview with my current employer”, she continues with a smile. “They said age was of no concern. What was important was my many years of experience in logistics. After the interview, they promised me I would hear from them soon. And I did, that same evening they called me to tell me I could start two weeks later.”


Kathelijne realises that many people in a similar situation also deal with a search that is fraught with frustration and disappointment. “But I am convinced now that you can work if you want to”, says Kathelijne. “You have to be open to it and show you have the energy for it, because you will have to prove yourself. The employer has to feel you want to work.”

“Over 50s often have a very strong profile, better than a school-leaver's profile”, she also says. “Of course you have to make a new job your own, but you will learn the ropes quicker than a young employee. Anyway, if you want to compete with school-leavers, who are cheaper, you have to be willing to make concessions. If you insist on keeping the standard of your previous work, you are limiting your chances. I now work full-time for instance instead of 4/5. It took some getting used to, but it feels great, because… I am working!”


--- Hays Belgium. Please talk to our PR & Communications Officer to make changes to quotes. Please also contact him for questions or more information.
Gunther Malin
PR & Communications Officer
+32 (0)470/99.18.76