Over 50 and Looking for a New Job?
Realistically speaking, it’s not always possible to retire from your current job. You could be close to being laid off, very unhappy with your standing in an organization, or bored stiff with a lack of job satisfaction. You could also be in an age group that, under normal conditions, you would stick it out until retirement. If you are older and thinking of moving on from your present job and relocating to another community, there are things you need to know and consider.
Important factors to consider are your readiness to take a hit to your ego and awareness of potential isolation. Even if you have a less than perfect job, you probably have developed a comfort zone that allows you the ability to stroke your ego occasionally. In a new job, even if you are the boss, you will need to prove yourself and deal with the possibility of many people resenting you. Positive feedback will be a rarity. As you move to the new job, the familiarity of surroundings and co-workers is gone. Your awareness of being alone will be accentuated by not having a “go-to” person with whom to talk or go to lunch. When you’re in an older age group and changing jobs, the usual places for meeting people are no longer present. In the past you may have met people through your children, friends of co-workers, or neighbors. While you build another network of friends and neighbors, work can become even more of a focus. You need to prepare yourself not only for the above changes, but for how others view you. This provides a potential for isolation, which can be avoided if you are aware of this prior to jumping to a new job. It may a time to reinvent yourself if there is a need.
OK, I hit you pretty hard with the negative stuff. You need the awareness of the negative side, but clearly others have gone before you and succeeded. There are studies that show that many workers over 45 who changed jobs were successful (82%) in transition and were happier. This comes from “New careers for Older Workers” by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER). AIER also found that new job changers had 65% less stress. We have solid information that others before us made notable job changes and ended up being happier. Get started with a positive attitude. The change has some initial down side, but is highly likely to end well.
When you start to look for a position, look for a company that has high employee satisfaction ratings. Though this is not essential, the employee is a valuable resource of a company. High employee ratings reinforce their value as a resource.
An older worker has years of experience that is not only respected but treasured by the right employer. Set up your CV and your thoughts prior to an interview so they clearly express the vast amount of experiences you would bring to any organization.
Do not be the older worker who is not in touch with technology. You can down play its importance to you only if you are an expert in this area. Use any spare time you have in buffing up your skill set in the use of current technology in your field. Explore the internet for any information or video classes you can use to your advantage. If your job search deals with the need for further competencies or training, get this done prior to making an application, if at all possible.
If you do not already have an on-line presence with LinkedIn or other professional organizations, do so. Connections to other professionals open many doors that are not otherwise accessible.
If you are active on one of the many internet sites (Facebook, Google etc.) go back and check your posts. Are there any that are controversial? Remove them if possible. You don’t want your first impression to be clouded by a post on the internet. Everyone has baggage, but it doesn’t need to be overexposed. Some advocate a personalized e-mail account specifically for business contacts.
If you want to make a job/career move and are having trouble putting it all together, there are professionals who can help you. Organizations like AARP and Career Shifters can help you if you are a self-starter, or you can go to an employment agency if you need more direction. From any viewpoint, you need to be organized, self-promoting, and have a skill set that matches the direction you want your career to take.
I made a job change at 55. I was aware of these above recommendations and found that one of them was by far the most important. The centerpiece to me is an organization that values its employees. There was plenty of information out there that my new organization did not value employees as a resource. I had been a boss before, so blows to my ego and isolation were easily overcome. After making this job change, I knew I could not overcome this organization’s dismissal of the employee as a valuable resource. Because of this, I found it necessary to retire several years before I had planned. Consider very carefully which of the changes you may encounter that will not be adequate to carry you to retirement.