Middle-aged females struggling to land job need to create their own luck, say experts.

Forget the menopause. It may have been branded the "great taboo" by Britain's chief medical officer, who this week urged more open discussion of it between bosses and female workers, but for many middle-aged women the "change of life" does not, perhaps, top their list of worries.

Of greater concern is not finding work at all. For a growing number of highly qualified, professional women in their 40s and 50s are struggling to get into the job market.

Many have taken career breaks to look after children or elderly parents. Others have simply struggled to find a new job at their stage of life. All risk becoming what has become known, in bitterly colloquial terms, as "finished at 50".

Last year, figures from Britain's Office for National Statistics revealed there were 162,000 unemployed women over 50 - a 45 per cent rise since 2010, and the highest number since the ONS began collecting such data in 1992.


So what are the options? Whether they are deemed over-qualified or past it, recruitment firm chief Michael Barrington believes middle-aged females have to box clever to find suitable work.

"We get candidates to condense their CVs to only reflect the last 15 years of employment, and we take out the dates in the education section of CVs," he says.

Women also have to be savvy about getting noticed, be it through social media, blogs or being visible at networking events.

"One lady I know was made redundant from a bank. So she ... built up her profile by writing a number of thought-leadership pieces, blogs and comments, to the extent where her content was so well respected she ended up getting offered roles."

Some organisations are entering into women-focused "return to work" exercises, he notes.

And of course, it's hard to identify whether someone is being discriminated against for being over-qualified.

With few protocols in place, it seems jobless middle-aged women must create their own openings. Career mentor and business coach Penny Davenport suggests trawling through contacts books and arranging to meet anyone who could provide networking chances.

"Invite them for a coffee 'just to catch up'," she advises. "You're not asking about opportunities but eight times out of 10, a further meeting or opportunity does arise."