Baby Boomers are familiar with change, uncertainty and the need for resilience, and sometimes that comes in the unnerving form of being thrown back into the job market.
According to the US Census Bureau, by 2030 one in every five persons will be over 65 and the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistic evidence indicates that the percentage of workers in that age demographic continues to rise, from 12% in the mid-1990s to over 18% in 2015 and 2016.
Maybe retirement wasn’t all you thought it would be and you miss the social interaction that being gainfully employed supplied; or perhaps a downturn in investments or an unexpected illness has placed you in unfortunate financial circumstances, making you question what it is, exactly, that makes these years “golden.”
If you’re in need of — or have the desire for — re-entering the workforce, this is your lucky day!
My guest blogger, Liz Searcy, has triumphed over seemingly insurmountable personal challenges and has gone on to build her successful business, Celebration Career & Business Support. With an incredible faith in God, strong self-discipline and a desire to rise above any obstacle standing in her way, Liz now helps others navigate the choppy waters of career transition.
I’m not a fan of articles that “diagnose” a problem and provide no solution—neither is Liz. In the following, she shares her expertise and offers resources that help Baby Boomers land that elusive job. While not everyone has the desire to return to college as a Boomer, Liz provides practical advice for career transition in a “something for everyone” manner, whether you are re-entering the workforce or just wanting to make a career change.
When Life Happens: Guidance for Career
Re-Entry in 2019 and Beyond
By Liz Searcy
When Millie* contacted me about her circumstances, she was struggling with her stage in life and questions about how to re-enter the workforce after a number of events occurred. Pressing questions arose as she took inventory. Where do I begin? How do I show all my different employment on my résumé? At my age, will anyone hire me? These were unsettling questions to her. Maybe you’ve struggled with the same uncertainties.
When she was 56, Millie’s husband unexpectedly passed away. He was a scientific professional and she assisted him for years in his practice. While dealing with her grief and his death, she had a devastating fire on her property. Now her familiar routines suddenly became non-existent and she had to look into the face of her future for her possibilities.
“I put my trust in God and purposed in my heart to take small steps that would move me towards my goal,” she shared. “I began a new journey.”
During that same year she enrolled in college on a part-time basis, and slowly inched toward a goal of a bachelor’s degree; one that began previously and remained dormant for years. Many times, the thought of having a college routine combined with the burden of tuition and student loans seemed insurmountable to her, but years passed and Millie was diligent and completed several years of college.
She stressed over the length of time it was taking, reasoning if going back to college at age 56 was the right decision.
“I knew if I just worked at a retail store, I wouldn’t have enough money to keep up my home—our home is my kid’s anchor,” she rationalized. So she stayed the course with her education.
Your First Decision & Getting Started
Maybe education isn’t in your plan right now; however, the first decision you must settle is if you want to work full or part-time. Your answer will be the starting point because it will fuel the how you navigate your job search.
Do you need flexibility in a position? Due to caring for elderly parents, avoiding a long commute, or other special circumstances, many job seekers opt for a company that offers part-time and freelance opportunities, or positions they can perform remotely.
Getting the Attention of Employers
A critical step in changing careers has to do with your résumé document. This is the most vital component of career re-entry and change. Your résumé will need to be written strategically to show an employer how your experience and talent translate to the new desired position in the field you’re targeting.
Once your résumé and cover letter are completed, you’re ready to market yourself to your desired position.
Where are the Jobs?
A wonderful resource can be found on the website Flex Jobs. I personally applaud the company, which promotes real legitimate remote, part-time, and freelance positions, free of scams. One of my professional clients wanted a specific type of part-time position in marketing and I recommended she visit this website. When she called me a few weeks later, she was thrilled and shared that she had accepted a position found through Flex Jobs. The position was the ideal one for her and also paid well. (Note: Information is abundant on this site at no cost. If interested in accessing other areas, a small fee is required.)
Named by Forbes as one of the top websites for your career, look to The Work at Home Woman. I’ve spoken directly to the founder of this site, Holly Reisem Hanna and her website generously provides many substantial resources for women. At the end of this article, I provide links to the websites I mention, including an interview of my own story.
If you’re in the market for full-time work, one of the best sources, hands down, is LinkedIn Jobs. There is no cost to search for job postings and there are many benefits in utilizing this site. Type in key words of the position you’re looking for, such as administrative assistant, logistics coordinator, or financial analyst.
One of the most crucial choices you can make for re-entering the workforce in 2019 and beyond is to be visible to recruiters and hiring managers through a LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn leads the way to how recruiters and human resource professionals look for candidates in 2019 and beyond. They search for candidates like you by looking at your online résumé called a profile. Think of it as an advertisement in a unique format which states your past employment history, skills, education, military experience, and volunteerism, and more.
There is no charge to set this up and it’s fairly easy. Take steps to create your profile as soon as possible. Try your hand at it and if you need help, don’t get frustrated—just call a friend and ask if they can help you complete it. You can also write a question to LinkedIn’s help desk.
It’s a fact that 80% of employers look to see if you have a LinkedIn profile. In addition, you must have headshot of yourself that you can place there. The photo can be taken with a digital camera or even an iPhone or Android—you don’t have to spend money for a professional photographer.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see is no photo," explains LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams. "You're seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have one. Like a house that’s for sale, the assumption is that if there's no photo, something's wrong."
Tap Into the ‘Hidden Job Market’
Did you know that 70% of positions that are available today are not advertised? This is called the ‘hidden job market.’ Many companies do not publicize all their job postings on their website.
Tapping in to this market takes strategy. One of the most important facts you should know is this—many positions are available even though a company website does not list them. The reasons for this are many, however if you search the career page of a company website and you do not see a qualifying position listed there, send your résumé anyway.
Can I Re-Enter a New Field Even if I’m Working?
Yes, absolutely! A common example among many seeking a career re-entry or transition is that of an individual who works in retail and now just feels they have to find a different position. Many retail salespeople suffer from ‘burnout’ and yearn to be free from the tyranny of laboring long hours into the evenings as well as weekends.
Have you earned a degree years ago but never found a position and actually utilized that education? Some job seekers lost their dream of a fulfilling position but the right steps can inspire hope of landing a position using a past degree. That’s what happened to a man who needed help desperately.
Ten years ago, Doug (name changed for privacy) earned a degree and never utilized it. He couldn’t find a position in the field of industry and lost all hope of a future using his education. Eventually, he gave up. He took a job at a discount store and stayed for eight years. A strategic résumé document and some marketing guidance resurrected Doug’s hope and he landed a position at a laboratory utilizing his degree for the first time. It was stunning to witness his joy and exuberance as he embarked on a path to a brighter future.
No matter what your circumstances are right now, if you apply all these principles, you will be further ahead than when you first started reading this article.
Success for Millie
Millie’s story continues and her results are a real success story! After eight years of going to college part-time, she completed her education in 2018, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences. Equipped with a strategic résumé in hand and knowledge through career coaching, she consistently applied for positions as she gained new confidence. With her target being her alma mater—a well-known university in Texas, she searched out significant people, networking with individuals with whom she could have conversations. Then she was called for an interview.
Now 63 years old, she was offered a position at the very university she targeted and is enjoying her new environment and responsibilities—one that she says is just perfect for her and thrilling in every way.
· True story, used by permission and name changed for privacy
Liz Searcy is the owner of Celebration Career & Business Support. She equips job seekers and assists employers in the U.S. with strategic services needed for the current economic landscape. Reach her at 281-253-6147 or visit www.celebrationcbs.com
Photo of Liz Searcy taken by Alan Sexton; www.Uniqueimages.com
Big THANK YOU! to Liz for sharing your expertise.
If you are faced with needing to reenter the workforce, leave a comment below. Tell us your story.
By the way, in case you can't quite put your finger on it, the post title is a nod to a classic Walt Disney tune, from "Snow White."
Until next time, remember to bloom a little every day,