Looking for work at any age is tough, especially if you’re changing careers. But for workers over 55 (and that’s at least 19.5 of us and growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) that jump can be even harder.
Although there are plenty of laws against age-related discrimination, it still happens. Older workers find themselves priced out of available jobs thanks to years of experience, or have trouble even getting interviews, thanks to employers’ reluctance to take a chance on an employee who might retire in a few years.
On the other hand, companies are generally pretty understaffed these days, and might be “looking for someone who can come in and do the job,” without needing a lot of training or supervision, said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Which sounds a lot like veteran employees to us.
Challenger advises baby boomers to highlight their past five to ten years of experience in their resumes, and to network with as many new people as possible. Also, if you’re contemplating a change in jobs, he suggests looking at parallel positions in other industries, instead of trying to change job titles in your current industry.
Finally, if you just can’t stand what you’re doing altogether, you might start thinking about whether you want to transition to an industry that gives back.
“In their 50s and 60s, people’s priorities change,” said Marc Freeman, CEO of Civic Ventures, a non-profit think tank on boomers and social purpose. “They realize that the road doesn’t go on forever. I think it causes a lot of people to re-evaluate what kind of job they want to do, what kind of life they want to lead.”
Freeman’s website, Encore.org, offers advice on making the transition, as well as information on Encore Fellowships, a program that offers stipends to boomers changing careers.
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