Sunday, December 22, 2013
Returning to Work After 50
When I left the news business I was in my late forties. Now that I'm four years shy of 60, I see that so much has changed and I am having to learn how to adapt. I chose not to return to my chosen career of "established media" because, quite frankly, I no longer have the stomach for "breaking news" that starts out with A LOT of half-truths and stations always trying to out do the competition. Furthermore, I was no longer interested in going toe-to-toe with younger, less-talented journalists who always seem to have the advantage because of their "blondeness" and desire to work no matter how little the pay.
I prefer not to say where I'm employed but I will tell you it is a position that is totally out of my comfort zone. As I travel through this leg of my journey I am learning a lot about getting back in the game.
Here are some things for you to consider if you are considering returning to the workforce:
HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE: Know why you are returning to the workforce. To make ends meet is one thing but you should also be thinking about what you would like to accomplish while in your position. Just going through the motions of working from 9 to 5 (or whenever) will ultimately make you unhappy and could lead to your untimely termination.
Once I was hired for the position I'm in, I decided to set a goal and am now striving towards it.
Understand this: THE JOB MARKET HAS CHANGED: Not only are many of the employees half our age, but some of them may end up being our supervisors. That is the situation I am currently in. My managers are just a few years older than my 24-year-old daughter and, honestly, it is hard to appreciate and to see them as my superiors but THEY ARE and if I am going to succeed I am going to have to accept that fact and act accordingly.
LEARN TO BE HUMBLE: I've always been a take charge person so it isn't easy for me to sit back in a subservient role as I am currently having to do. Quite frankly, humility as an employee is something I'm still working on but I do keep my devotional reading with me at all times to remind me of WHOSE I am so I don't get it twisted and end up saying things I will live to regret.
If you have aspirations beyond the job, you will have to learn to swallow your pride, know-how and "I can do it better than you!" attitude sometimes for the greater good.
BE WILLING TO ACCEPT LESS MONEY: The job market today is what I call an "employers' market." They can get away with paying less money for employees because the market is saturated with young, hungry professionals who just want to get a foot in the door so they can begin to navigate their way throughout the company. For many baby boomers, like myself, we have been accustomed to the nice, comfortable salaries that afforded us the opportunities to have beautiful homes, a sizable bank account and take fabulous vacations. That is no longer the case. You must be willing to accept the going rate but I would caution you to NEVER accept minimum wage because it devalues your skills and abilities---especially if you have 20 to 30 years of talent and skills to bring to the table.
HAVE A CLEAR EXIT PLAN: Going back to work is serious business for those of us who are more mature than the average employee. Know why you are returning and have a plan for an exit. Working indefinitely without a plan or purpose only leads to frustration.
In my next post, I'l talk about what it's like to work for younger bosses and how you can use the experience to your advantage.