Looking for a Job After Age 50

Mary's picture

Let’s say that you are at pre-retirement or retirement age.  You have experience in some way, at one or more career occupations.  Something has happened, the company went out of business, you got sick or had a baby and had to quit for a while, technology changed and you were let go, you have left military service, whatever.  You are now faced with finding employment in a tough market.

There are a number of reflections that we can relate that might make you feel better – Why?  Because they happened to us, and speaking for myself, the number of mistakes and wishes that did not come true are quite a few – thousand…….   Trust us, YOU are not alone, read on and feel better about yourself, and maybe you won’t make the same mistakes that we did.

What are the goals?  A job you can look forward to or even enjoy – hopefully with some benefits – at least until age 65, and of course, a salary you can augment or live on.  This is not so easy, these days.  What are the most obvious actions that you can take?  From Dave’s and my experience, this is what we have seen and what has worked for us –

·        Fall back on your previous experience – in every way.  You can go back to the company you came from, or companies like the one you came from – check with previous employers.  Assuming you didn't burn any bridges, they may be glad to have you back.  Dave says - I spent 18 years working for "the telephone company."  They were very glad to welcome back “prodigal children”.  And after five years, your service was bridged as far as benefits and pension was concerned.

·        Go back to the people you worked with at your previous employer.  They may know of related jobs in the industry, or companies who competed with your company.  They may also know of people who have left and gone to another company and if others went, so might you.

·        Ask advice from someone who has the type of job you want – and make sure you can trust them – the first time I asked advice of a high-level executive he gave me a list of qualifications and additional degrees that I knew I could not get in less than 5 years.  I later found out that he did not have a degree of any kind, and did not want any competition.  Think about it…

·        Don't be put off if the job description isn't a 100% match to your skill set.  If you can match the key elements, it may be enough to get you an interview.  A degree (BA or BS) is important but not as important as experience.  Dave says – I’ve worked for many contracting firms in my recent career as a consultant, the fact that I am a few credits short of the BA has not, as near as I can tell, excluded me from consideration.  Experience trumps education, in most cases.

·        What might be necessary to keep your career – or change it?  Entertain the possibility of life upheaval.  Like a move/transfer to a new city, working weekends or second shift, becoming a "road warrior," adding miles to your daily commute, etc.

·        Accept other career paths. If you have natural people skills, maybe sales or marketing, or training.  Dave says - I was able to combine two skills, IT and public speaking.  I turned myself in to an IT Trainer.  Don't discount your avocations and hobbies, they may be marketable.

·        Identify the new "hot" industries.  Over-the-road trucking comes to mind.  An OTR driver can earn about $50K, $70K if you tag team.  Most trucking companies will reimburse you for driving school costs. At least it may cover the bills until you find your dream job.

·        You can find temporary employers who will place you in situations where your skills will be valuable, many offer benefits and reasonable wages.  Also, many companies hire temporary workers to see if they are good candidates for permanent work.  This same process can be used by you, to see if you want to work for a company.  You can screen them as a potential employer, just as much as they would screen you as an employee. 

·        You can be a Consultant, yes YOU!  If you did something for a period of time, you have gained valuable experience that can be applied in many company settings; you probably know some pitfalls to avoid and good things to look for in a consulting situation.   There are many types of consulting companies.  Find one that will market your skills to the appropriate business segment.  Try Google for possibilities.

·        This is one of my life experiences, I was laid off once – very early in my career, when a war stopped the activity of businesses all over and suddenly the small company I worked for had no customers – it really did happen…  I decided to try my heart’s desire and become an interior decorator.  With no experience, and doubting my own creative ability, I got a job advising decorating solutions – part time.  The company instantly put me on 32 hours per week (the highest number of hours per week that are considered part-time) and I stood on my feet for all those hours.  This gave me the highest respect for all the people who stand up to work, it is really hard.  (I am eternally thankful for all those people who can stand all day, be polite and say, May I help you?) Sometimes, I would come home and sit with my feet up, too tired to eat (after 9pm).  I also quickly realized that without a client base and a company to tutor me, success was most likely very far away.  After six months of this, I went back to technology and worked to find a career that was related to my previous experience of computer system marketing, but something that would allow me to contact my previous customers, for a different product.  This worked, actually.   I re-applied my skills in a related industry. 

·        One other thing comes to mind, is there something that you can do at home?  In my area, I see many, many men and women who do part-time, two women I know sell jewelry and gift items on a party plan (while hubby is home watching the kids) and one fellow who does tree cutting, another does lawn maintenance, another buys and fixes up used cars, and another lady who does catering, another does alterations on clothes.

Keep your chin up and keep looking.  Try to get the best out of the current situation, whatever that is.  Kindness and love always work.

Remember, It’s rChance to Live and Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way!

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