Over 50 years old? Please don’t shoot this messenger… because if you are in this age group, you need to seriously start taking stock of what the final years of your career will look like.
There’s a reason you need to be concerned.
Companies, unfortunately, oftentimes see more mature workers as a cost versus an asset. Age discrimination is absolutely illegal, but employers can and ARE finding ways to sidestep those protections to cut down on overhead costs.
Of course they talk about how much they value the knowledge, expertise, and organizational background that comes with having over 50 workers as employees.
But the reality is things are changing. A lot.
Towards the end of your career (when you are over 50), your salary requirements have accelerated as you have moved up.
And if you have worked at a company for a substantial amount of time, you probably have maxed out on vacation benefits.
There is an expressed desire by management to infuse the company with “fresh ideas.”
Enter in the company “reorganization” or restructure.
It’s a thinly veiled way of removing more mature workers who carry big salary and benefit burdens to companies.
And you need to worry because when you are over 50, career options become infinitely smaller.
Many middle-management jobs were eliminated during the recession.
It also takes a lot of due diligence and extra legwork to find companies willing to accept near-retirement age workers onto their payrolls.
So what should you do if you are over 50?
Here are some tips to follow to help shape your final career stretch before soaring off into the sunset of retirement:
- Make sure you keep tabs on your contributions to the company. Keeping track of the value you deliver can help you show ROI for continuing your employment.
- Communicate your accomplishments. Don’t just sit on them – make sure you provide updates as a “FYI” to your boss so you are staying on their radar. If you have annual performance reviews, make sure to provide an overview of the things you have succeeded in during the previous year so you can further demonstrate your value.
- Stay out ahead. Being a thought leader can help you retain your employment by being the “go-to” innovation expert. You can keep up this ideation pace by attending cutting-edge conferences to learn about new concepts and trends, which can ultimately help you translate these ideas into new applications internally.
- Keep networking. At this point in your career, you should have a sizable contact list. Nurturing relationships with potential future employers that see value in more mature workers on their team is going to help accelerate a job search should the need arise.
- Start thinking about how your skills could help your own age group. Turn a liability into an asset. As Baby Boomers age, there are increasingly new opportunities to market to this generation. There might be a product or service that you could initiate within your company that can broaden their market share within a lucrative marketplace.
- Reshape your vision of your last pre-retirement job. The gold watch is no longer a reality. In fact, many people who have been “reorganized” and are looking for work simply go into business for themselves. Consulting or starting your own business are two viable options – so educating yourself on how to start and then run a business are important skills to gain just in case.
- Adjust your expectations. Limited job opportunities might mean that instead of going out at the top of your game, the reality of the local job market means that you may have to settle for a pay cut, contract work, or a lower-level job instead. This is the least preferred option, but if you find yourself looking for work after experiencing a company reorg, adjusting your expectations may help so you have some form of income. Some is better than none in order to meet your financial needs.
Hopefully, these tips can help you keep moving forward. If you are over 50, you should be very aware that things can change very quickly – and be as prepared as possible.