An older worker or executive facing the loss of a job, can often be terrified at the prospects of trying to find a new position in a faltering economy and at an age that makes the job search even more difficult. Psychologists have claimed that job loss is one of the most troubling events to a person’s well-being, ranking with divorce and the death of a spouse. This article deals with these issues, as well as offering a positive, proactive approach to job loss, after age 50.
Employment Opportunities are Tough for the Seasoned Employee
In today’s challenging times, with limited job openings, the words may be even more devastating as the economy plummets and layoffs are the normal course of events. Typically, who will be terminated? Obviously, those who aren’t performing and those whose incomes have risen with their seniority (read: older employees).
To make matters worse, according to AARP, a recent “…A recent Supreme Court case created a tougher burden of proof for plaintiffs in age bias cases. That decision, Gross V. FBL Financial, may cause a ripple effect in other types of discrimination disputes.”– Age Bias, Prove It!, Nov. 6, 2009.
This case hits at a time that makes a bad situation, for older workers, worse. US Representative George Miller (D-California) is trying now to get the rules reversed as he feels older workers are being singled out. This may help, but with the economy in a downturn, a legal remedy is a long and sometimes fruitless effort.
Reality in the Job Search
It’s obvious business and society love youth. Just consider the culture and the mass media. And there are plenty of reasons.
Typically, young employees work for less money, they look and act like many of their supervisors who may be younger, as well. And they are probably more malleable and easier to manage in this modern business culture.
A Stacked Deck in a Job Interview?
Obviously age shows. Grey hair and a degree of seasoning (wrinkles) are easy to spot. Also, older workers with heavy experience are expensive and in the minds of an employer, the likelihood of serious illness with an older person is far more likely.
These factors weight heavily on senior business mangers/owners and especially when hiring. Younger hiring managers may unconsciously and subtly discriminate in favor of younger workers with lighter resumes. No one readily admits this practice, however, it’s reality.
All is Not Doom and Gloom in the Senior Job Search World
This weakened economy has forced numerous people, particularly the post 50 group, to seek part time work, start a business or drop out of the workplace completely. But there is sun breaking through on the horizon. Older workers bring a lot to the party. In a December 14, 2009 email, Ray Anthony, author of several books and articles on business and commercial practices, commented humorously, “Older employees are better than younger ones because they are 6.35 times less likely to be screwing around on Facebook, My space and Twitter instead of working!”
According to Joe Turner, “the Job Search Guy” in an article entitled “Acing a Job Interview After 50” commenting on older employers facing a job search,
“Keep in mind that all organizations have only two basic needs: revenue and productivity. This is what keeps any top manager up at night. If your brand can help them, they will seek your advice and counsel”
For the most part, many seasoned workers will still be seeking a management job, which obviously will pay more. Many older workers require less, their homes may be paid off and children’s education is not an issue.
Here are a few tips in a search for meaningful employment:
- Check one’s own Roledex and the new Rolodexes of the 21st century: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and start working them…network…network…network!
- There are numerous local networking groups in which membership may help to develop good contacts.
- Join some of the pay web sites such as theladders.com where reasonable job opportunities are offered
- volunteer, often it is possible to find good contacts.
- Consider having a personal website where prospective employers can be directed
- Change attitude and perhaps appearance. While gray/white hair may be considered distinguished, the reality is, it may hurt.
- Consider starting a small home based business, even a home job may offer only limited income…this beats no income!
- Be up on the latest office PC tools: Word, Excel, Power Point, etc
- Have an e-mail address that sounds business-like. Forget cuteness!
- It is often a more difficult task for an older employee’s job search, however be flexible and persistent in the job search. Persistence, as in all areas of business, will always pay off. The economy may seem to be an obstacle for the over 50 crowd, but with heavy experience, a demonstrable work ethic and a willingness to provide what the market needs, the job search will bear fruit.