Matthews Harris director Jacqui Matthews is concerned by the apparent lack of potential employers for mature candidates. "It's a sad indictment of the current employment market that candidates should think they're on the scrap heap at 50, or even 40," she told The Grocer. "We do hear of young mds in their twenties and thirties who regard their older colleagues as being over the hill. How wrong they can be." She recalls a client with relevant experience, fluent in five languages, first class honours from Cambridge and an MBA from Cranfield ­ but, at 51, found it hard to get a hearing. Matthews is anxious to see a better balance in the workforce which more experienced staff can bring. But in an increasingly complex business environment, there are ways mature candidates can improve their chances of success. The first, according to Matthews, is to keep ahead of the game. "Attend seminars, take an industry magazine, keep up with developments in your field and business methods in general. "If you can offer to e-mail information to an interested company, or remark on a relevant web site, you'll show you're still in the thick of things." Networking is also vital, adds Matthews. Fortunately some companies view mature candidates more positively. Matthews cites Asda as a recent example. "They recruited an over-50 planning and forecast analyst ­ a position where experience counts for a lot. Not all employers discriminate, so take heart!" she says. Matthews advises all clients to draw attention to relevant experience in their CVs. "Highlight the training courses or seminars you've attended and try to use modern and energetic language." The corporate world is also not the only option. There are self-employment or even management buyout possibilities. Steve Thomas joined as a consultant for Matthews Harris after being made redundant from his career as a company md. "Steve's enjoying himself so much he wouldn't want to return to corporate life," says Matthews. "Turning 40 is an opportunity to reassess your options: it's up to you what you do. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Recruitment, selection and outplacement consultants are all there to offer professional advice." {{PEOPLE MOVES }}