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October 11, 2021

Pandemic Pivot? How Older Workers Can Decide What’s Next

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many workers to re-evaluate their lives and careers. While people of all ages have faced unemployment or underemployment, older workers have been among the hardest hit. Research shows that the impact is likely to be wide-ranging and long-lasting for many of them.

Getting hired after the age of 50 was difficult even before the pandemic, thanks to deeply ingrained age discrimination in both the United States and Europe. Employers often felt that mature employees were too costly, too slow or simply too old to be of value.

However, COVID-19 added an additional barrier: 50-plus employees were seen as a liability since they were more likely to become severely ill if they contracted the virus. Not only did employers fear that mature people would be unable to work but that they would also be a burden on their health insurance.

The Paradox Facing Mature Employees

Older workers feared both losing their jobs and contracting COVID-19 if they went to work. For many, the pandemic forced them to reflect on their careers and reimagine their futures.

Not all mature workers have had the same experience. In June 2021, more than half the job seekers age 55 and over had been looking for work for at least six months. This is disheartening since the longer a person remains unemployed, the harder it is to land a job. However, at the same time, many mature workers are starting new careers after quitting their jobs or being laid off. Some have finally mustered the courage to launch into the world of entrepreneurship.

If you’re over the age of 50 considering getting back into the workforce after a long break or trying a new career path, you may be feeling a little daunted. However, the process of reinventing yourself can actually be enjoyable.

Making Career Changes After the Age of 50

Here are some of the things you need to do to reduce the anxiety associated with making a big change.

Decide on the Course You Want to Take

If you’re currently employed, you may want to think about what you want from your future career before you quit. Take the time to research the available jobs in your prospective field and determine which options best align with your skillset and your passions at this stage of your life.

Draw on All Your Skills

Whether you spent decades in one organization or you worked in multiple places over the years, you’ve no doubt built up quite the skills bank. Make a list of all the things you’re good at so you can properly market yourself to employers or clients. Many skills can be transferred from one career to another, including time management skills and interpersonal skills.

Apply Your Skillset to a Dream

Many people put off their dreams in the prime of their working years. Maybe you’re passionate about art, but you worked in a different field. Now may be the time to use your organizational skills and mentorship experience to teach drawing or painting. This can be a great way to leave the corporate world, earn an income and do something you love.

Pick Up Some New Skills

Lifelong learning is more important than ever. Fortunately, many courses are available online, and some of them are completely free. This means you don’t necessarily need to commute on draw on dwindling finances to upskill. Of course, some jobs will require certifications or professional designations. Research the skills that are most in-demand in the industry you’re eyeing and get the relevant training to boost your resume or help you launch your business.

Be Prepared to Be Flexible

Each mature worker is different. However, if one of the reasons you’re switching careers is because you want less stress or fewer tasks, you may need to make some compromises. For example, you may have to accept lower pay or be willing to move from your current location.

Take Steps to Reach Your Goal

 Once you have a relatively clear picture of where you want to go, you need to set some short and long-term goals aimed at getting you the job you want. You may want to:

  • Update your resume and/or portfolio
  • Make a list of contacts in relevant industries
  • Sign up for webinars, conferences, and networking events

Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic

The world has changed considerably over the past year and a half ,and many people are re-evaluating their lives and their work. There are lots of challenges facing older workers, but there are also lots of opportunities, so do your research and put your plan into action.

If you’re a business owner who wants to attract and retain mature employees, contact WiseForce Advisors for a consultation at info@wiseforceadvisors.com.