Aging Workforce

Paul was a director of operations in a large company.  He was called into a meeting, which he thought would be a planning session.  It turned out he was fired.  Unexpectedly. After 40 plus years of continuous employment.  Paul was 64.

Tom was a successful salesman until the retailer shuttered and laid off the staff. Since then, the 59-year-old salesman and commercial photographer has submitted dozens of résumés, gotten certified in web design and data analytics and won a few consulting gigs to show employers his newly expanded skill set. In other words, he has done everything job consultants say you should do to land a job.

Even so, he hasn’t had one interview.

Implicit Bias

Many organizations spend millions to recruit new employees, and substantially little in retaining or hiring the older workers.

I don’t have to give you any research to back up the claim that finding a job and continuing in the same career trajectory for a person over 55 is quite difficult to do. A lot of employment opportunities are available in the national workforce. However, several groups, including people who are older, have higher barriers to employment as a result of implicit bias.

You may remember the Baltimore Police were under investigation by the US Justice Department in 2016.  The outcome report uncovered specific instances of implicit racial bias. Implicit bias is difficult to uncover, as it is based on attitudes and stereotypes that unconsciously affect actions and decisions. Though discrimination is protected under the law: race, color, sex, or ethnic origin, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years, we know it still permeates the workplace.

Even if some corporations embrace an “older worker first” mentality—for instance, by encouraging the recruiting of 55-and-older workers— “that mentality must be engrained in the minds of hiring managers and others who are active in the recruitment process,” says Jim Seith  from the National Council on Aging.


People like Paul, and like me, turned to self-employment. Did you know that one of the fastest growing age groups who are turning to entrepreneurship, are people over the age of 50?

I started advancing in my career late in life, and realized I reached a plateau too early for my knowledge, energy, enthusiasm and for what I know I can still do.  And, there are many who are still employed but believe they can do more and should do more with what they know and what they can accomplish.

In Paul’s case, and in mine, we paired an idea for a business with experience and passion.  Many people over the age of 50 are redesigning their careers.

I started over and this is what I learned:

Don’t be afraid to start over.  It’s a chance to rebuild your life the way you wanted all along.

Business Myth

A recent article in Glassdoor offered rebuttals to the myths on changing careers.  One myth the author identifies was that one needed to be a business genius to start a company.  She said about this myth:

“Psst. I have a secret.  Very few people are ‘good at business’ when they start.  Most people have no idea how to run a business and have to learn as they grow it.”

Paul wasn’t exactly thinking about quitting his job to become a business owner.  But when he found himself unemployed, he used his entrepreneurial instincts and mindset to reinvent himself.

Do you have an idea that could solve someone’s need or problem and that could become a new service or a new product?  Are you willing to lead the transition from idea to reality?  Do you want to see your ideas turned into a business?

It’s your encore. Don’t be afraid to start over.

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