In a perfect world, you would spend the last of your pre-retirement years working for a company you helped to build. You would be respected for both your talents and previous contributions, and your co-workers, superiors and subordinates alike would all value your opinion and what you continue to offer.
In a perfect world, you would spend those last few years solidifying your legacy and going out in grand style.
That was how it used to go, not that long ago. But we are no longer in an era where longevity and decades of experience are as valued as they once were. With layoffs an ever-present threat, as well as the closure of long-standing corporations always a possibility, more and more seasoned workers are finding themselves in the position of needing to look for new work just a few years shy of retirement. And then there are those who are simply bored in their current positions, yearning for a new challenge and flush with the belief that they have more to give. Yet all of these experienced job seekers are competing against those who are half their age and getting passed over more times than could possibly make sense, given the strength of their resumes.
Legally, age discrimination should not be occurring. But realistically? You and I both know it happens. So if you are one of those workers, on the cusp of retirement, but with a few good years still left in you – what can you do to boost your chances in today’s job market?
Well, it starts with getting more proactive:
- Utilize Your Network: This could potentially be one of those career transitions in which a person’s network is more valuable than at any other time. Those within your network know you beyond just your reputation – they are the men and women who have worked with you in the past and can vouch for the quality contributions you can provide. Reach out to them. Ask about any openings they may know of within their organizations, and don’t shy away from asking for a recommendation. It could be that their vote of approval is all a hiring manager needs to shake their pre-disposed prejudices against hiring older workers.
- Turn to a Recruiter: This is another good time to rely on the help of a recruiter. Not only do recruiters have an “in” to upcoming openings, but they are also in the position of knowing discreet details about what a company is looking for, and of being able to “sell” you to a hiring manager before you ever show up for an interview.
- Be Open to Alternative Employment Arrangements: The hard truth is, you still may struggle to find a traditional employment opening available to you. Senior level positions are extremely competitive, and it might not be possible to find a role on par with your previous salary and level of responsibility. But that doesn’t mean you should just give up and retire early. If you are willing to take a step or two down, you may be able to find fulfilling employment at a lesser pay. And if that doesn’t seem reasonable to you, now may be the time to open yourself up to alternative employment arrangements, including consulting. Utilize your background and experience to present yourself as a potential contractor, rather than a full-time employee. In many cases, you can actually make more and work less under these arrangements – so long as you are willing to think outside the box.