Getting a job when you are in your 50’s, and what you need to do about it when you are in your 30’s
This story reoccurs about every other month. Someone whom I worked with 20, 25, 30 or 35 years ago but I haven’t talked to for ten plus years reaches out to me. Typically, they are now in their mid to late fifties and occasionally in their sixties; have had a very successful career; made big bucks; and suddenly for the first time in their career, they are out of a job. Financially, most don’t need to work but are not yet ready to retire. They want to do at least one more gig, either employed in a mid to senior role in a tech company or as a consultant and they are struggling to find something.
Many suffer from the same challenge.
They never planned for this awful spot they are in. They never developed a network beyond the company they worked for and the customers with whom they dealt. Now, many of those colleagues and customers have or are retiring so their network is evaporating.
The folks who call me spent their career focussed on their near-term objectives which they were very good at achieving. As a result, only those who were within a stone throw of their sphere of accomplishments know who they are. They are strangers to most of their future employers.
Now, at the tail end of their career, they need to convince an employer that they are still relevant, have gas left in the tank and that they have something to offer, yet have few in their network who are still actively employed and relevant who can vouch for them. Some may call this “Ageism” or age discrimination, but it is a reality.
So why do they reach out to me? Frankly, because one of the things I have done well in my career is to build & maintain networks & relationships and my personality is wired to try to be helpful to others. That said, it is hard to be helpful to people who I knew, respected and admired 20 or 30 years ago, but have not really known well since. I can advise them; I can coach them; I can share my thoughts; but I can’t really refer or go to bat for them to open a door or make an introduction because I don’t know them anymore.
So, if you are in your thirties, here is my advice: Prepare for your life in your fifties.
- Build and maintain your network.
- Keep your network current on who you are and your accomplishments
- Stay current with those in your network and their accomplishments
- Constantly “green” and diversify your network by mentoring younger people… they may be your door opener 20 years from now or even your future boss
- Pay it forward. What you give now in assistance and time, you will receive later. What you receive now in help from others, you need to pass along to others later
- If you find some extra time while house bound during COVID, think about how you create and expand your network for the future.
If you think that this sounds airy-fairy and untrue, then consider this. Why am I receiving all these calls from others looking for my help?