Practical Tips for Unemployed Over-50s
I assume that some over-50s, who are currently out of work, will discover this blog and will appreciate some practical tips on how they should proceed to secure their future.
Having experienced retrenchment from a large organisation a few years ago, I discovered first hand how difficult it is to get re-established when you should be looking at retirement. It was even harder trying to present myself to employers as a 40+ aged worker when I was actually closer to 60!
Ironically, many retrenchments of the 'over 50s' are a result of ineffective management by people considerably younger in age; and less knowledgeable and experienced. If the ‘smart, young, gung ho’ managers were not so full of themselves and, instead, listened to the wisdom of their older colleagues, there would be less need to retrench people. I see ‘retrenchment’ as the single biggest cop-out of corporate life – the best indication that the organisation is being run badly by incompetent managers!
So here are some tips for the 'unemployed over 50s'. I urge others to add to this list:
1. Self-Employment - Never be ‘unemployed’. Instead be ‘self-employed’. It’s advice I give to all age groups. Declare yourself a consultant or small business and get up every morning and pursue a ‘market’ for your ‘product’; which might simply consist of offering yourself to perform a service of some sort, or buy and sell products on eBay, or simply contribute your knowledge on blogs sites. You might not earn any money, but it will give your life purpose and will provide networking opportunities. Employers are more inclined to employ people who are already ‘employed’; particularly those already offering a service or product that might be relevant to their company.
2. The Monkey in the Quicksand – Whenever I feel down, I think of myself as the monkey sinking in quicksand, trying to pull himself out by his own ears. I have found that it is rare for anyone to throw you a ‘life-line’ when you’re sinking! Like the monkey, you’re on your own. However, unlike the monkey, you have the ability to be creative and self-driven, so you need to find an alternate way of saving yourself. Forget tugging at your own ears, or continually applying for dozens of jobs indiscriminately. Instead, look for creative ways to find an income. All career consultants with whom I’ve spoken have offered similar advice and suggest that networking is the best way to uncover jobs or income sources. Broaden your focus to identify ways to deliver services or supply products; don’t just look for jobs.
3. Networking – Everyone told me to network. However, they didn’t really say how you do that! I sometimes see people on Linked In asking for a job through a discussion group. Bad idea. You look like a ‘loser’! Don’t ever ask for a job! Instead, create a Persona for yourself. Using your self-employment profile, establish yourself as a successful business-person at whatever it is you created. You could create a cheap, but effective, website (e.g. wix.com) and Facebook profile for your ‘business’, contribute meaningful comments on Linked In discussions and post interesting information and comments on blogs (including your Facebook page). You’ll soon become noticed. During the darkest hours of my year of unemployment and zero income, I spent many hours meeting with, and providing free advice to people, on subjects in which I had considerable knowledge. I hoped that they might ask me to work with them and pay me for my knowledge. I desperately needed income. However, I hid my need for money and offered my advice freely. Long term, these strategies lead to extended networks in which I am now overwhelmed with jobs and project offers; and I am making more money than when I was previously working. I have also been able to draw others into my projects, and together, we are achieving amazing results.
4. Never Give-up – Avoid tall buildings, railway lines, bottles of pills, alcohol and gambling. Life might be a bit tough, however, you’ll get through it. The financial strain is always the hardest challenge. If it is an issue, contact me privately and I’ll tell you how to handle creditors and money issues to give yourself enough time to get on top of your career. You can’t recover from unemployment if you are stressed over money. Most importantly, keep moving. Don’t set a linear path. See yourself as the knight on a chessboard; you may need to move sideways or even backwards to reach your goals. Be creative with your plans. Try things you would normally not consider. Attack everything you do with drive, passion and polish.
I am sure there are many more tips that others can offer.