He doesn't know.
That's what I thought to myself. I had been listening to his upbeat spin on his recent job loss. He was confident that he would find another job. Such optimism aligned perfectly with the group setting. We were all attending a discussion of living in the now at a spiritual center.
What he didn't know was that, at age 55, he was facing obstacles in his job hunt that he had never encountered when middle-aged. The experience of his search for work was bound to be a game-changer, and not only in how he approached professional matters. Socially, he would notice that, as a aging man without paid employment, he had become invisible. America is no country for unemployed older men.
The March 2015 AARP survey documents those realities. It takes those 55 and older about 27 weeks to land another job. That's if they don't give up before finding work and opt for early Social Security.
To begin with, there are the mechanical challenges. This job hunter has to learn all about keywords to insert in the resume and cover letter to get by the robots.
Secondly, he has to anticipate lower wages than what he had been earning. Research and experience show that the 55+ losing jobs will likely be offered less in the next ones. That's just the way it is.
Third, there is the innate bias against aging. When he does walk into the room for an interview, jaws might drop. The screeners didn't dig deep enough about his age. Therefore, those interviewing him are stunned that this "old man" somehow is taking their time. They might really want a Millennial who comes cheap and whom they can mold.
And, fourth, there are so many new systems to learn. Even for one customer service $10 an hour job through EGS, Tucson, Arizona, those hired have to master at least 4 systems. One is CRM. Another is the AS400.
Once this newly unemployed man realizes that the game changed, he could consider these 6 coping strategies:
Rebrand. That extends from personal appearance (have a makeover to appear younger) to presentation of experience on resumes, cover letters and self on interviews. The professional you are now will probably not get a job.
Get up to speed on current job search best practices. The public library and other organizations provide free seminars and coaching, as well as books and articles. On the Internet, key in "Job search after-50." Ask employed colleagues for guidance.
Approach search as market testing. Try approaches and see what happens. Ditch methods which don't generate results. Do more of what lands interviews.
Grab interim work. The help-wanted are full of $10-an-hour full-time, part-time and contract opportunities. They can be found on sites such as Craigslist. Working as a security guard, receptionist, retail clerk or call center operator will keep the wolf from the door until you find a good fit in terms of a permanent job.
No longer is that tactic a resume-killer. Actually, employers respect that you hustled and found some kind of employment.
It's also possible that you may excel in this kind of assignment and move up the ladder. This could be a new career path.
Take breaks. A job search is an overwhelming experience. When you don't think you can go on one more minute, that's your signal to go off-duty for a while.
Consider opening your own business. It could be a franchise. Involve ecommerce. Or be simple like walking dogs, house-sitting and running errands for the disabled.
Losing a job delivers a body blow, at any age. You bet, it's a crisis. Losing a job as an aging professional could be the perfect storm. That's why you have to embrace fully the seriousness of the situation. Your game has changed. Don't be denial. Be open to new ways to earn a living.