This month, does age matter, and going from freelance to a staff job

<B>Q:</b> <i>I am an experienced project manager. I started out as a joiner and have gone on to gain extensive experience working on site in the construction of new quality housing and the maintenance and repair of privately-owned local authority housing. In the past 18 months I have sent off numerous applications to contractors and clients but without much success. Am I too old at 45? </i>

<B>A:</b> Your age has no relevance to your vacancy applications, but it may be that you have been targeting the wrong type of companies. You certainly have broad experience, starting from when you worked as a joiner through to your current job as a project manager.
The experience you have gained in your present company involves the day-to-day maintenance of all property and capital works, including housing stock, and this would interest the right clients. I suggest approaching local authorities and housing associations directly. The government is investing heavily in housing, especially regeneration, and project managers are like gold dust. The dearth of candidates means that they can command higher salaries.
You could take on the role of development officer, but one area in which you may be lacking is knowledge of the Housing Corporation's funding procedures and current housing legislation. There are courses available and you could get in touch with the Chartered Institute of Housing. Similarly you could work on the maintenance side of housing. Your knowledge of stock transfers, decanting and housing management is also useful for getting into housing. Or you could work on the maintenance side. There is great demand for people in this field in local authorities and housing associations, as well as private practices.
<b>Q:</b><i> I am a planner aged 35 who has been freelancing for more than 10 years. I am now thinking about looking for a permanent position. What can I expect, and how do I go about it?
A:</b> One advantage of being freelance is that with regular work, you can earn almost double the earnings of your permanent counterpart. So, if you are planning to look for permanent work, make sure your salary expectations are realistic.
Remember, though, that a lower salary will be balanced by other benefits such as a company car, pension and healthcare, so many of the expenses you incurred as a freelancer would be taken on by your new employer.
If money is not the issue, try revamping your CV. Companies seeking permanent employees look for stability and commitment as well as the right experience and personality fit. Concentrate on and promote the vast experience you have gained by working on a variety of projects. Tailor your CV to each position and expand on similar projects, listing those that are not relevant.
Many big mainstream contractors are crying out for planners to work on £10m-plus projects, and will turn a blind eye to the fact that you have been freelance, as your skills are in great demand but in such short supply. As long as you have a good contracting background with lots of experience, you should have few problems seeking a permanent job.
Have you thought of relocating? Some areas of the country, particularly the South-west, are screaming for permanent planners to work on major projects. Make sure you are up-to-date with the latest computer packages, as this will help to make you more marketable. Primavera is currently the most popular and sought after.

“Some areas of the country, particularly the South-west, are screaming for permanent planners to work on major projects”