Over 50? What You Should Expect From A Job

Gail Belsky career change

I'd be lying if I said that I'm not worried about my age -- 51 -- being a problem in my job hunt, especially after working independently for more than a decade. But I just can't believe I'm doomed because of it. I have friends who've switched jobs, acquired new skill sets, and launched satisfying careers after 50. So why not me?

A couple of weeks ago, my editor set me up with AOL Jobs blogger J.T. O'Donnell, a coach who offers an online program at CareerHMO.com. It turns out O'Donnell was a great match for me.

O'Donnell believes that every career has three phrases. Phase III, the last 20 years of a career, is all about reaping the rewards of decades of working. That's what phase I'm entering. And as a seasoned professional, O'Donnell says, I should derive great personal satisfaction from my job -- without having to work insane hours. I should have fun at work, love what I do and not have to put in more than 40 hours a week at work.

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I can almost hear your reaction: Good luck with that.

Believe me, many of my friends would say that, too. It's become brutal out there. I don't want to take it easy; I love working hard, and I'm used to fairly long hours. I just don't want to be eating dinner at 9 every night like I did when I was 30. I still have one child at home, and I'd like to see him.

And I know the fact that I'm 51 in a lousy job market, and lack certain skills for certain jobs, makes my quest an uphill battle. But I'm not willing to give up yet -- and O'Donnell says I shouldn't. If you understand what you want, she says, you can be flexible with your wish list, and strategic in the jobs you pursue.

So, O'Donnell gave me some self-assessment exercises, which confirmed what I already know about my work style and preferences. Articulating it, however, helped define the type of work and environment that is most satisfying to me.

More: From Receptionist To The Boss: How I Did It

Here's what stuck:

My 'Belief Statements' About My Chosen Career

My ideas of what a good editor -- my chosen profession -- does: A good editor knows her audience. She sees the story, and packages it for the greatest impact. She can illuminate any subject, and is a great communicator. She makes smart decisions, and moves quickly. She is a champion of the work.

My work style and preferences: I'm an "energizer." I thrive in an environment where colleagues are positive, fun, competitive and quick-minded -- and where management is energetic, decisive and supportive. I'm also a "reporter," which means I like to seek out and share information, and build strong work relationships. I'm happiest in a position that involves motivating and persuading.

My mantra: You don't know until you try.


As a Phase III job searcher, O'Donnell says I should ask myself: Am I asking too much from my goal? Will I have to compromise too much to achieve it? And then, knowing what I want, I need to shape my search to get as close to personal satisfaction as I possibly can. I'm going to give it a try.

What about you: Are you going after what you want in a new career? Or are you compromising before you even started?

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8 Comments

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unemployable

Thank you for sharing it was very interesting about the Phases. I am worried also being in that phase and several layoffs and skills that need to be energized. I wish you luck and hope you meet your goals.

April 18 2014 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tubajew

I'm a single parent, music teacher who has had 9 lay-offs over the years. For my whole career I have done nothing but try to save for the inevitable "next lay-off." I finally hooked up with a principal that supports me and gives me some semblance of security. Sadly, it's who you know, not what you know in this life that determines one's fate with the job market. After a 10% salary reduction, a 7% give back to the state health care system, and a 2% raise in taxes, and with two children in college next year, I'm just fooling myself trying to tread water. My second job does little to eliviate my financial needs. Where does this madness end?

February 26 2013 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
goldie_smith

I'm really glad for those of you who are "making it", but I'm not. I'm a 55 yr old RN who has been passed over again and again for younger nurses, often new grads. I have not had a regular job in 3 years...when I had surgery for cancer. Doing well now, but in real danger of losing my home, etc. Cannot afford cancer follow-ups. Cannot afford anything ! I and soooo depressed and in sooo much despair, I can barely function most days. No body will ever know what being out of work has done to me.

January 30 2013 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to goldie_smith's comment
Gail Belsky

That's a rough situation. Are there any related professions that you could transfer your nursing skills to? I'm not sure if you've tried to switch tracks at all, but maybe there are more opportunities other areas.

January 30 2013 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dee

Hi Gail I'm with you on this on as a fellow ahem older female job seeker. Fran's 34 months scares the heck out of me. I actually emigrated to the US to FL where I was getting no feedback then left Florida to NY and despite being available for relocation, it doesn't seem to have helped. I've also seen where networking seems to be the biggest tool in the job seeker's arsenal and as a foreigner with few friends in the US I've met up on another obstacle. So I'm networking. It's scary as hell but I'm going to follow you on your journey. That way I'll feel like we are joined in the struggle.

January 29 2013 at 10:20 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dee's comment
Gail Belsky

You're definitely NOT alone in this one. :)

January 30 2013 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Fran

Gail, I agree with you and your career coach -- you have to be selective to find a job that works for you. During my prolonged job hunt (34 long months!), I was surprised at the critical remarks people made because I actually had criteria for the job I wanted: for example, I didn't want to work in the city. I took a lot of heat for that one! No one knows better than you what's right for you. I don't think there's such a thing as a perfect job, though, and you may have to be willing to make tradeoffs (e.g., it has a short commute, but it doesn't pay as much as you'd like). But there's no sense taking a job if you know that something about it will make you miserable! Life is too short for that. I wish you the best of luck in your search.

January 28 2013 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Fran's comment
Gail Belsky

Thanks for the encouragement! Did you end up with the right situation for you? Re: your not wanting to work in the city: I was embarrassed to admit to the coach that the first thing I look at when I'm interested in a job posting is how bad the commute would be. She said she tells all her clients that location should be the absolute first criteria, so good for you for not caving on that one! (or did you???)

January 28 2013 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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