Sunday, January 13, 2013

Older Workers Remake Their Careers

At the New York Times, "Over 50, and Under No illusions":
IT’S a baby boomer’s nightmare. One moment you’re 40-ish and moving up, the next you’re 50-plus and suddenly, shockingly, moving out — jobless in a tough economy.

Too young to retire, too old to start over. Or at least that’s the line. Comfortable jobs with comfortable salaries are scarce, after all. Almost overnight, skills honed over a lifetime seem tired, passé. Twenty- and thirty-somethings will gladly do the work you used to do, and probably for less money. Yes, businesses are hiring again, but not nearly fast enough. Many people are so disheartened that they’ve simply stopped looking for work.

For millions of Americans over 50, this isn’t a bad dream — it’s grim reality. The recession and its aftermath have hit older workers especially hard. People 55 to 64 — an age range when many start to dream of kicking back — are having a particularly hard time finding new jobs. For a vast majority of this cohort, being thrown out of work means months of fruitless searching and soul-crushing rejection.

To which many experts say, “What did you expect?”

Everyone, whatever age, needs a Plan B. And maybe a Plan C and a Plan D. Who doesn’t know that loyalty and hard work go only so far these days?

“Shame on you if you’re not thinking every single year, ‘What’s my next step?’ ” says Pamela Mitchell, a career coach and author. “It’s magical thinking not to do this.”

Ms. Mitchell, who has reinvented her own career a few times, says everyone should think about options, alternative job paths and career goals, just in case. She recommends talking over job possibilities with family members and, if possible, building a financial cushion.

Constant networking is crucial, too. The idea, she says, is to prepare in case a big change comes.

“If you’re thinking about it, you’ll be doing all this piecemeal along the way,” she says.

All of which, of course, is easier said than done. But some people who have gone through the emotional and financial strains of late-career unemployment say that with skill, determination and a bit of luck, the end of a job doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Changing jobs or careers can be a good thing later in life, despite the many risks. Many agree that a willingness to push beyond the comforts of location, lifestyle and line of work is vital.

Though there is no single path, there are success stories that offer hope.
Well, a late-career job change actually sounds pretty exciting, without all the financial uncertainty, of course.

Continue reading, in any case.