Reader comment

A reader happened upon a post from 2006 (pre-crash) about finding a job at 50 plus.  The comment:

… I really do want to know about starting a NEW career at 50+. I worked my way into my last career, NO COLLEGE DEGREE, making $95k+, laid off, and after two years of searching realize I’ll probably never get back into my old niche. I’m looking at descriptions of Associate Degrees, Certificate Programs, etc. How can I find out which career is more friendly to older applicants? For instance, I’m considering Para Legal (possible La, or Web Design, or Physical Fitness Trainer. Am I fooling myself into thinking anyone will hire someone close to 60 with new degree/certificate in hand?

It’s a good question and one that job seekers are asking even more often.  So let’s look at this situation.  The reader is correct — at close to 60, coming off a $95K job and being jobless for 2 years, the chances of finding someone to employ at this salary level is pretty low, although not impossible.  However, it makes more sense to look at where industry will grow as we come out of the bad economy and either repurpose your skills, or develop new ones to address where the need will be. 

Right now, the job market is so bleak, it really isn’t about whether you are too young or too old.  Any employer looking to fill a position can find exactly the right person, with exactly the right skills set for any given position.  That means finding a job by applying online will put you in the database mix without much of an edge and with no “in” to the company.   There are employers hiring, but there are less open positions than there are available workers.  Think of it this way.  You are hungry.  There is a barrel of apples in front of you and you can choose whichever one you want.  Of course, you’ll look through at least the first part of the barrel and find the best looking apple you can.  That is today’s econony.  Hundreds of people applying for each job.  First, best one to the table gets the foot in the door.

In a good economy, there might only be 3 apples to choose from — so your chances would be much greater of getting picked…especially if you were shiny and unbruised.

Now, take a look at the job market.  Who is hiring?  Well, not many.  The biggest arena is health/medical related jobs.  You’ve got openings in the medical field, which is still pretty stable, although feeling some of the trickle-down this year.  Education looks like it is in for an overhaul, so there will be opportunities there.  And the other great area of advancement is in renewable/sustainable energy solutions and all the companies that support that field.

If I were going to get certified, it would not be as a paralegal, when clients don’t have money to pay their lawyers.  It would not be in web design, where coming in at entry level in a field ripe with talent.  I don’t think I’d go for a physical trainer either, although I’m not going to say to shut the door there.  While there are tons of unemployed physical trainers, there is also several decades of an aging population ahead of us, so if you can find a way to marry a trainer position with healthcare, that might be worth looking at.

But for my money, if I were going to start all over again and I didn’t have the skills to start my own business, I’d get green certified and look for work in that field.  I’d go to green conferences, events,  companies, websites, and network myself into that arena.

Any other thoughts?

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