Job hunting after 50: A personal inventory

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Job hunting after 50 - inventoryBy Tony Lewis, Senior Recruiting Specialist, Insperity

Are you a professional over the age of 50 who is trapped in a job that doesn’t meet financial needs or is out of sync with your personality, character or mind? It’s not that you are unappreciated or taken for granted. You still have dreams, and your current employment situation is just no longer fulfilling. You are a clever person with substantial skills, and nothing has stopped you from exploring new paths in the past. So don’t let anything stop you from refocusing yourself now.

I am an example of someone who, five years ago, found himself wanting to change careers. I entered the workforce as a teacher and spent the next nine years learning and growing in this profession. But after my wife and I began our family, I decided that I needed to be in a profession that allowed me to earn more money. So I took the leap and went into sales. I found that many of my skills as a successful teacher were easily adaptable to a sales career, thus making my transition easier than I imagined.

However, after almost 22 years in sales, I found it to not be as fulfilling as it once was, and I again found myself searching for a new career path. My efforts to remake myself led me to the career that I have now — one that I not only enjoy but makes a difference in the world as well.

I’d like to share the steps I took to find a new career after 50 for those of you considering a similar change. My suggestions are separated into four parts, all of which will be shared in the coming weeks. Here’s part one.

Know yourself: A personal inventory

Take some time to do a self-assessment. If you haven’t picked a career path yet, look at your personality, character, spiritual needs and values, skills, achievements and hobbies, and think about how all of those pluses can best be applied in a new profession. What do you really want to do with your life? How can you do that and still fulfill your responsibilities to your family and anyone else who depends on you?

Determine what you’re missing. Once you’ve completed your self-assessment, ask yourself, what are you missing that will help you to be more marketable in your new career? Have you talked with anyone in your network who works in that field to get some pointers? Will you need to acquire a new certification or complete any coursework to learn new technology or gain a new skill? Have you considered joining professional organizations associated with your chosen career? Have you extended your social and professional network — especially in the areas that you are targeting? Determine the “missing pieces” you’ll need to acquire to be considered for your new role, researching any associated costs, and then go after them.

Talk to your family. Once those first two steps are complete, you should know yourself fairly well and have a good idea of what you need in the way of “filling in the blanks” or supplying the “missing pieces.”  Now it’s time to talk seriously with your family — the people who are most dependent upon you, your well-being and your income — and let them know what you are thinking. Be ready with a plan about how you will pull this off and not jeopardize the family’s well-being, whether it’s taking classes at a community college in the evening while you continue to work or picking up part-time work on the weekends or evenings to gain experience. Also explain the cost and time associated with the change so that they are aware of the challenges and sacrifices necessary. When you have their blessing, you are ready to begin the next steps.

Tony Lewis is a Senior Recruiting Specialist with Insperity Recruiting Services and has been the top producer for Insperity Recruiting for the past 5 years. He is also an experienced trainer and performance management specialist and is a former public school classroom teacher. He currently serves as the team lead for project teams working with two of Insperity’s largest clients.

  1. Great
    article! Job searching over the age of 50 can be difficult, but it’s
    not impossible. Another tip to add to your list is conducting ample
    research before you apply to any job. This can help you to evaluate what
    sorts of candidates your target company hires and where your
    experiences can fit into this process.

    • Bull…………..I’ve seen people who do all of the above and still can not get hired!  This world is not a place for the over 50 workforce.

    • InterviewSuccess It is a well written article by a successful sales person of over 22 years. Most do not fit this profile. Also, employers these days are looking a liabilities not just skillsets. They are looking out for the bottom line not the seasoned expertise they should be. This is alarming as the baby boomers reach what they thought would be retirement. The senate and house will cut benefits and extend the retirement age to avoid supplements and entitlements. Yeah, where to go and what to do in your golden years is unrelenting and daunting at best. We need companies to be rewarded for hiring over 50, it should be a preference, not a contest with a 20 something year old woman or man.

  2. I just have general comments.  I have been watching my husband get brow beated by every company and recruiter out there.  Yes, he is over 55 but still has much more to offer!  I can not believe the way companies and recruiters treat the job seekers out there.  No courtesy at all, not manners and just plain rude.  No one has the “guts” to tell job seekers why they were not chosen or even considered!  I find this just plain awful!  Let’s face it……Employeers only bring in a chosen few to talk to so hard is it to contact them and tell them why they were not chosen.  I know they probably had  over 100 resumes to go over, but like I said only a few were chosen to speak to, but come on treat people with the respect they deserve.  My husband has worked hard all his life and he doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.  He needs to work!

  3. 50 hit me faster than I thought especially after thinking that I could change careers in the medical field, but only to find that my age and experience was used as a rule out factor. I was told in over 60 interviews that I am overqualified or the positions were seeking potentials 40 and under which was not stated in any of the paperwork.

  4. I am a college graduate but also 48 years old.  I have been looking for a job for quite some time and I have found nothing.  I have a profile on just about every career page there is and still nothing.  I believe that if you dont know someone personally to connect you with a new job/career you are out of luck unless you are young.  I am a secretary and I am feeling the sting of being trapped.

  5. Lets also add prayer to the list.  We must be lead by God to do the work he has in his plan.
    Good Luck and God Bless to all of us.

  6. I’m an Occupational Health Nurse and in the AAOHN magazine Vol 59 October 2011 the article titled “Focus on the Aging Worker” is frightening.
    To quote the chart on page 449 “The number of workers in the youngest group, age 16-24, is projected to decline during the period (2006-2016) while the number of workers age 25-54 will rise only slightly.  In sharp contrast, workers age 55-64 are expected to climb by 36.5 percent.  But the most dramatic growth is projected for the two oldest groups.  The number of workers between the ages of 65 and 74 and those aged 75 and up is predicted to soar by more than 80 percent.” (U.S Bureau of labor Statististics (BLS) 2008)”. 
    The article further explained what type of problems are to be expected in the aging work force based on a chart titled “physiological issues of an aging work force and related modifications” pages 452-453.
    This is not good.  No matter how fit, prepared, one cannot escape physiological age.  I have always said that it should be mandatory from Elementary School to High School that students take Yoga.  Yoga increases flexibility and decreases disease-prolonging life in a healthy modality.  Unfortnately, in our society that is not the case.
    I’m 65, soon turning 66 and retiring at 66 summer of 2013.    I’m tired or working full time.  I have planned to do fun things which will earn extra money-Fun is the key.  I am tired of articles like this one which targets an older population to “re-invent” themselves for a full time post 50 years of age career.  Come on-age is age.  I’m not going to kill myself when I retire-I have something which I have studied very hard to do and which will earn me consitently while I’m having fun doing it.  And it has nothing to do with nursing.
    Articles like this these  are written by type triple A individuals.  If you want to earn some money then at retirement age find something which you will enjoy doing and have fun doing without expending anything beyond 10 hours a week max.  
    Enjoy life.

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