Don’t Reinvent, Redeploy (And Other Secrets To Career Success At 50+)
5 minute read
At age 61, personal finance journalist and expert Kerry Hannon wasn’t looking for a job. She had a thriving freelance career underfoot – writing articles on retirement and second acts for places like Forbes and Next Avenue, serving as a consultant and strategist in the spheres of entrepreneurship and career transition, and continuing to pump out a new book roughly every other year, most recently 2022’s “In Control at 50+”. That’s when a recruiter looking to fill a job at Yahoo Finance found her on LinkedIn.
“I love LinkedIn. I was always putting up my columns and promoting and supporting the work of other people,” Hannon says. When the recruiter reached out with an innocuous “are you interested?” Though Hannon already had a full plate of work and projects she was passionate about, she figured that she had nothing to lose by following the breadcrumbs. “At 61, it’s not like it’s going to hurt my career.” So, they started talking. And, Yahoo Finance – where today, she’s a senior columnist and on-air expert — essentially crafted the entire job description around Hannon’s multivariate skill set. Why? Because she could step in and hit the ground running from Day 1.
It’s an important lesson to keep in mind. Next year, 2024 is what the Alliance for Lifetime Income calls Peak 65 – the year that more Baby Boomers will turn 65 than any other, at a clip of 12,000 per day. Ten years from now, all Boomers will be 65-plus and because the generations that follow are not as large, population-wise, employers are already starting to focus on how they’ll cope with the demand for new employees. Without doubt, one of the big things they’re going to have to do is keep older workers active and engaged. Hannon has been working with companies and States who are looking to make this happen. Among them, Colorado, which is taking an active look at this issue because the population of the state is older than most. The changes, she notes, are more than incremental… but the giant changes are coming. Here’s what you need to know to take advantage, stay relevant, and at the same time, be financially secure.
WATCH Your Money Map: Don’t Reinvent, Redeploy (And Other Secrets To Career Success At 50+)
Think About What You Want To Do
Chances are pretty good that by the time you hit what we think of as traditional retirement age, you’ll be ready for a change. Maybe that’s a change in the work you’re actually doing, like the lawyer who is more than done with that career, and ready to open a bookstore instead. But it could also represent a change in who you’re doing it for, opting for a non-profit instead of a corporation, or the way you’re delivering it, remotely rather than in-office. Or, maybe you’d simply like to tweak the cadence, reducing your hours or the number of days per week you’re on the clock. Then start looking for opportunities to do those things. “At this age,” Hannon notes, “It’s as much about you interviewing potential employers as about them interviewing you.” The continuing strength in the job market and growing economy are the wind in your sails.
Focus On Your Expertise and Experience… Not Age
There is a tendency, as we get older, to believe that we may have aged-out of relevancy. In fact, Hannon notes, nothing could be further from the truth. “You have years and years of experience,” she says. “You can’t be shy about putting that forward.” So, rather than throwing up your hands, take control. Tell a prospective employer about all the specific skills and other beneficial things that you – because of your years in the field – have already proven that you can do for them. Just because you’ve spent most of your years in the healthcare industry, doesn’t mean the experiences and skills you’ve built aren’t relevant in other industries or businesses. And, even if you’re not quite feeling the confidence, fake it as much as you can. “You have to have some moxie,” she notes. “If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will either.” That said, you don’t have to scream your age from your LinkedIn profile or resume, as ageism, unfortunately, does still exist. Age-proof it instead. What’s that? “Leave the early dates off,” Hannon says. “That’s particularly important for [AI resume screening] which will flag them in short order.”
Don’t Reinvent, Redeploy
If you want to shorten the amount of time it takes you to find your next position or gig, focus on those areas that you know are already hiring a lot of people – among them, education, healthcare, and leisure/hospitality. These are broad categories, Hannon points out, where the idea is not to take the skills you already have and simply put them to use in a new area. “You’re not reinventing yourself,” she says. “You’re redeploying your skill set in a different way.” And if you’re looking for how you should be compensated in these new fields, turn to the Occupational Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s a goldmine of fields that are expected to grow, basic salary ranges and the education required.
Get The Skills You Need (It’s Easier Than You Think)
If you find there’s a gap between what you want to do and what employers seem to want to hire you to do, look at whether you can close it with things like virtual learning. Pay particular attention to job descriptions, Hannon notes. They’re loaded with the specific certifications and core competencies they’re hiring for. Chances are, you can pick up the skills online and on your on timetable. “Coming out of the pandemic, virtual learning has become so much easier,” Hannon says. “You can do it at home, on your own computer. It’s not nearly as daunting as you think.” (Among the skills to brush up on? Communications. If you find that your emails and even texts to colleagues and clients are going out into a seeming void, it’s likely because the people you’re working with are on Slack. Learn it. Then ask your colleagues for their preferred method of communication.)
And If You’re at a Loss?
Finally, there may come a point when you know you want to do something, but you’re not sure exactly what you want to do. Get some help. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to help you remember what it is that makes you special, and employable. Telling your story to a career or life coach – or even a good friend – can be a great place to start. “Sometimes we’re good at things we don’t recognize,” says Hannon. “We often don’t realize those are the skills that will set us on our way.”