Solid background, experience, and compassion are just a few of the advantages that mature talents can offer employers. Vygintas Leipus, Procurement Manager at Danske Bank Lithuania for over four years, is proof of this. Although he was well aware of what employers expect from potential employees, he was honest during the job interview: he is joining to apply his knowledge and expertise and advises the other mature talents to take advantage of all the learning opportunities, read job advertisements carefully, and be confident in themselves.

Why did you decide to look for a new job?

Before joining Danske, I worked for a company located in central Lithuania. I lived in Vilnius, so I spent a lot of time commuting. This was a manufacturing company, and when, more than four years ago, extremely specific knowledge was required in my job, I decided, after discussing with the shareholders, that it was time to get a job closer to home in Vilnius.

When I started my job search, I focused on the areas I love, and I am best at.

I had a strong background in procurement, extensive knowledge of information technology and some experience in finance. I began my career as a business consultant and then in the procurement department of one of the banks operating in Lithuania. As I was familiar with the areas, I naturally I looked for a position in procurement, an area in which I excelled.

Did you get any remarks about your age as you searched for a new job?

In my job search and selection of potential employers, I applied a certain filter. Firstly, if you have a certain level of experience, you expect to be paid accordingly. Secondly, it had to be an international company with appropriate management standards. There are only few such Lithuanian companies. I did not want to work for a chaotic organisation that had contradictive employee reviews and negative business media coverage.

I contacted the companies that met my requirements myself. When I spotted a job advertisement that interested me, I also applied for it through recruitment agencies. I have had job interviews with many companies only to discover that they were looking for quite a specific qualification. There were also some ads where I thought the job was the right fit for me, but I did not even apply because it said ‘young team’ or something like that.

Nobody openly commented on my age, but I could tell from the job advertisement that I would not be considered for this position. Other times, I sent my application and received no response. 'Thank you, but your application will not be assessed further,' some responded. They didn't explain why they wouldn't consider it. Other responses included: 'You are overqualified,' 'Your wage expectations are too high,' and so on.

Do you think that age stereotypes and attitudes persist in the labour market, or is it just a myth?

Of course, there are stereotypes. And they are mutual. Among employers, one of the most common beliefs I have heard from friends and acquaintances is that older people are unadaptable. Another stereotype is that they do not have enough skills, for example, they do not speak English, do not know how to use a computer or do not have up-to-date knowledge of the market economy. There is also a belief that older employees will not understand their younger colleagues, will not be able to adapt, will not want to work overtime or will decide to form a union.

On the other hand, mature talents themselves have all kinds of stereotypes.

You can't fault one side or the other, but life is going to force both sides to break down these stereotypes. The 40–60 age group is the one that earns the money and pays for pensions, and it is wrong that people who are able to work are left out of the job market. Another thing is that people at this age look for stability, so they will not choose temporary jobs or join start-ups. They are also less likely to choose to work as manual labourers. 

It is up to the individual to have the determination, the self-confidence, and, in a sense, the bravery to ask for and be proactive in looking for a job. Lithuanians are perhaps more conservative in this respect, as they do not go out on the streets and declare, 'I am looking for work' or 'l am struggling'.  Others simply sit back and wait for an opportunity.

Danske Bank has taken a good initiative to share the stories of people who have successfully changed jobs at a mature age, thereby breaking down stereotypes. The average age of our colleagues in Denmark is 44 years old. They are successful because maturity is not in itself a crime, but in Lithuania, it unfortunately still has a rather negative connotation, given by the media and the historical circumstances in which today’s over-40 population has lived and worked.

What was the most worrying thing, if any, about starting a new job?

Adaptability was one of the things I was concerned about. Some of my current colleagues are the same age as my children. Another aspect is technical knowledge, which I thought I might lack, as well as English. Although I believed I was good enough in English, there were occasions when I needed to switch to business English, which has its own set of abbreviations and slang. I also had to adapt to and accept the Danish work culture.

On the other hand, I acknowledged that, as a new joiner, I would be useful to the company because I would bring a fresh approach and perspective. The manager's attention to the new employees at Danske Bank demonstrated the value of a critical eye at the start of a job; he gathered us all together and asked us to share our opinions on whether things were going well or our recommendations on what we would improve.

What previous professional/life experience comes in handy working at Danske Bank Lithuania?

My previous experience in procurement comes in handy when we have tenders and select the best suppliers – I then draw my colleagues’ attention to important contract clauses and technical specifications. I have worked with some of the suppliers before, I know their credibility and competence, they also know me and have a sense of how our collaboration will work. 
For a long time, I worked in a managerial position, which is useful in solving complex situations, and my expertise allows me to advise my colleague or even my manager – if he asks for my opinion, I can tell him if everything is fine or what needs more attention. 

Was there anything new that you learned about yourself when you started working at Danske Bank?

  • Firstly, I believe that you have to work accurately the results depend on your input.
  • Secondly, you cannot go on with your 'old baggage' – you have to embrace lifelong learning.
  • Thirdly, we are a service provider, so we have to act like one and have the appropriate approach.

Finally, because we work in a specific cultural environment, we have to represent and maintain it.

What would you say to someone your age who is struggling to find the motivation to look for a new, different job?

  1. Take advantage of all the learning opportunities available to you, both formal and informal. It is essential to learn continuously.
  2. Don't rely solely on the headline of a job advertisement, which often uses a lot of fancy words, so look at what is in the job advert itself. If the headline contains popular buzzwords such as ‘data analyst’ or ‘business intelligence’, it is important to find out what is really required. Often, the text of a job advert depends on the experience of the person writing it and his/her job, so it is not necessarily possible or necessary to trust the advert 100%.
  3. Be confident in yourself and keep at it: Rome was not built in a day.