Middle-Aged and Lost Your Job? It's Not Hopeless

According to The Wall Street Journal, 3.5 million Americans aged 45 to 64 were out of work last year. Almost 40 percent of those were unemployed for a year or more.

About twice as many 20-somethings are unemployed than more seasoned workers, but in middle age, finding a good job with good benefits can be much harder for an older worker. If you find yourself looking for work in middle age, however, there is hope. Follow this guide to landing the job you deserve.

Find ways to use your age to your advantage. Would you have hired you when you were 25?

Life Isn't Fair

Young workers are cheaper. They have less experience, they're less expensive to insure, and -- fair or not -- they are perceived as being more energetic and hungrier. Companies like young, fresh blood that they can mold and don't bring baggage or bad habits from other jobs. Start by accepting this reality.

Rein in Your Resume

As a veteran of the workplace, the obvious chip you want to play is experience. Resist the urge, however, to list every accomplishment on paper. Brevity is a must when it comes to boiling down your strong suits. A multi-page resume with accomplishments from a decade or more ago will only reinforce to the hiring manager -- right there on paper in front of him -- that you've given your best years to the employers who have come before.

Act -- Don't Advertise -- Your Age

There's a good chance you'll be interviewed by a younger person. Avoid the trap of memory lane. "We did that all by hand when I started" or "The business looked like this when I was your age" not only reminds them that you're older, but it lets them know that you are preoccupied with your age. No one, especially a hiring manager, likes a blowhard from another era who thinks things have turned for the worse with the new crop of kids.


Older workers need to list their experience and accomplishments, but shouldn't dwell on them.

Play it Cool, But Not Too Cool

If you're savvy with social media, put that on your resume and say it to your interviewing manager. But don't try to be hip or regurgitate something you think someone younger would say. Like a bad facelift or toupee, it's transparent -- you're not fooling anyone. There's always going to be respect for people who own it and age gracefully.

In difficult job markets, like that which America has weathered for the last several years, things are always more difficult for older workers. Things, however, are looking up, and businesses crave the stability, reliability, and experience that can only come with age. Twenty-five isn't better than 45, but it is different and comes with a different set of skills. If you're willing to bargain with your salary requirements, you just might find that your age is a blessing.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about the job market and career advice, and profiles top business leaders such as Steve Wynn.

Views: 1491

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on July 20, 2013 at 12:09am

Based on this being a huge steaming pile, I'm guessing it either wasn't written by a real person or perhaps a person lacking relevant subject matter awareness to observe how absurd this content is from the perspective of anyone with hiring experience, business-savvy and just plain old common-sense. 

First of all, these ageist stereotypes are simply offensive, inaccurate and pointless. Why does anyone automatically assume that a person of any age has more or less experience than a person of any other age? Experience in the context of job qualifications does necessarily directly correlate to a person's age. Nor is career-level, income, salary range or cost/use of benefits a factor of age. 

Second, why assume that an "older or middle-aged" person is out of touch, low energy, not tech savvy and un-hip? Have your ever examined the dates, decades, eras or even centuries most modern technology and its predecessor inventions came into existence? Probably not, or you would realize that a person in their 40s, 50s or beyond has likely been using standard (and evolving) technology in and out of the workplace for at least a couple of decades (probably longer). In some cases, perhaps even longer than the "younger" people they are allegedly trying to impress (by following this outrageously bad advice) have been alive.

Third, since when do younger people not have baggage or bad habits? Have you personally examined every person on the planet to validate that claim? 

Not that any of that means anything, but do you and people like you actually make hiring decisions based on such ignorant biases and rationale? If a person resembling the one in the picture happens to be the best qualified and well-suited person for the job, why do people (by regurgitating this obnoxious generational garbage) perpetuate information that suggests they won't be hired?

Perhaps you think continuously reinforcing these stereotypes and unfounded generalities about entire segments of the population is in some way is beneficial? It IS NOT. 

The only outcome of this nonsense is that it feeds already existing prejudice and builds justification for these unfair biases. When people repeatedly see, hear and read the same message on this tired topic it leaves an impression. In this case, the impression undermines the image of those you may think you are trying to help and even worse enables others with limited critical thinking ability to spread more rumors that rampant ageism is sweeping the nation. ISMs of all sorts have always existed and will continue for the foreseeable future, but there's no need to add fuel to the fire. 

~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 20, 2013 at 11:14am
Andrew, you dumb, out of touch duck. People who are 45 are just reaching the point where they have enough sense to manage people ,processes and not be high maintenance.

Grow up twit, come back when you are old enough to know what you are writing about.
Comment by Dmitri Yakovlev on August 1, 2013 at 10:33am

this is all just a huge stereotype. I know this from experience because when I see someone over 50 that is tech savvy or just has an impressively designed resume I get more impressed than I would have with some one 20 yrs younger. But the difference between me and you is; I know that that is just the arrogance of our generation talking in my head and I simply move on from. You on the other hand think these amateur judgement skills -idk if I'd even call them skills- are sturdy facts to judge someone's placement by. fact is I hate all your posts. I feel like you grab these vague articles of some lame about or how to sites.

Comment by Gene Brady on August 7, 2013 at 11:53am

Catchy, provocative headline for the article.

And bogus. Of course it's not hopeless.

It's often a plus to have an experienced, 'been through the wars' individual.

I place senior-level people consistently.

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