With unemployment at all-time lows, now might be the best time for you to be looking for a full-time job. The challenges, however, are greater if you’re over 50 years old.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average it takes those 55 to 64 two weeks longer to find a job compared to those 20 years and older. (The news is worse if you’re 65 and older, where this average duration of unemployment is 10 weeks longer.)
It seems the idea of early retirement hasn’t caught on with those in their 50s (and even beyond).
“Our research shows that experienced workers are staying on the job longer or looking for a job for two reasons,” says Susan K. Weinstock, Vice President, Financial Resilience Programming at AARP. “Financially, they need the money, and, secondly, they like their job and find it fulfilling and want to keep working.”
Bankrate regularly surveys workers regarding their financial circumstances. Its data confirms what AARP found for those working well past age 50.
“When Bankrate asked Americans who were neither retired nor permanently disabled about their retirement savings, more than half said they were behind where they should have been,” says Mark Hamrick, Senior Economic Analyst at Bankrate.com. “For members of Generation X (age 39-54), the percentage was 63% and Boomers (age 55-73), 54% said they were behind on their retirement savings. No doubt many people who would otherwise be candidates to retire seek to remain in the workforce because they feel they need income, or to further boost their savings. Others may choose to work as a means of remaining engaged and active.”
If you’re like many older workers, you may prefer to retain your current position. But what if your present employer can’t accommodate you? It may have been decades since you last tried to look for a new job. What has changed since then? What do you have to do different today to land full-time employment?
Bryan Zawikowski has been a recruiter for 25 years and is the vice president and general manager of the military transition division for Lucas Group. Forbes ranked Lucas Group as one of the top 10 executive search firms in the nation in 2019. Zawikowski’s team works with many people who find themselves either changing careers or looking for new jobs later in life. He shares the following advice:
“What are best practices?”
· To thine own self be true: “Don’t try to hide your age. It doesn’t work, and you end up looking either vain or foolish—maybe both.”
· Polish up your online presence: “Your LinkedIn profile should be very professional, including the photograph.”
· Emphasize your real-world experience: “No ‘functional’ resumes. They end up in the trash.”
· Brevity is the soul of wit: “Maximum 2-page resume. The further back in your work history you go, the less detail there should be.”
“What are the easiest ways to make it happen?”
· Recalculate: “Be financially prepared to take a step back in compensation (either scale back your lifestyle or be prepared to dip into savings if need be).”
· Re-calibrate: “Be emotionally and mentally prepared to work for someone younger and perhaps more talented than you.”
· Circulate: “Network with former classmates, former work colleagues, friends and acquaintances that know something about your desired career path.”
· Captivate: “Have a GREAT story about why you are interested in this new career field and why you’d be good at it.”
“What are the do’s and don’ts?”
· DO something you enjoy: “Pick a career that you are really into, something that energizes you and somewhere you look forward to going to work most days.”
· DO maintain your health: “Stay physically active. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, but do something to keep your energy level up.”
· DO continue to learn: “Read as much as you can about your new career field.”
· DON’T lie: You can’t “pretend to be an expert at something just because you were good at something else.”
· DON’T assume the status quo: You’ll be disappointed if you “think you will be able to make a lateral move from where you are in your current career field.”
· DON’T be unrealistic: You’ll only hurt yourself more if you “sacrifice more than you can afford to in terms of compensation. Retirement isn’t too far away and you don’t want to jeopardize that.”
You are the master of your own destiny. If you want to find a job, you can. No matter what your age.