If you’re 50 or older and unemployed, you’re probably very happy to leave 2009 behind and move on to 2010, hoping it will be a happier new year!
While the nation’s unemployment is improving, it’s not necessarily improving for the oldest unemployed—unemployment for those ages 55-64 actually tripled since the recession began.
The next few years could be even tougher on this group of unemployed. According to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, it could take until 2015 for unemployment levels to drop to “normal levels.” Economists say the job market is likely to stay weak until the nation can generate enough jobs to drive down unemployment to a historically normal rate of five or six percent.
The jobless rate did improve to 10%, but over 15 million Americans are still unemployed. The number of people out of work at least six months is six million, and I’m not even talking about those millions of Americans who simply gave up looking for a job and those considered “under employed”—those who had to take part-time jobs while still searching for full-time employment—and the jobless rate could be as high as 17%.
It’s possible, according to some economists that we’re heading to a decade of “chronically high unemployment,” that 8% or 9% could be the new norm and jobs won’t return to pre-recession levels.
Despite the fact that the economy is poised for recovery, the pace of recuperation is expected to be sluggish and remain fairly jobless in 2010. The fact is, only a half million jobs were created in the last decade, while nearly 22 million jobs were created between 1989 and 1999. As a result, employers won’t be in any rush to ramp up hiring in any significant numbers.
Making things even tougher on the older unemployed is the likelihood of more people heading back into the job market competing for already too-few jobs as the economy improves. More baby boomers whose retirement accounts have shrunk are unable to retire and staying in the workforce much longer.
Businesses are squeezing more work from their current workforce and relying more on part-time or short-term contract workers and overseas workers. Moreover, the federal budget deficit and rising interest rates could hamper growth and restrict job creation.
Despite all of this, if you’re in this group of older unemployed, you still need to stay determined, committed and upbeat if you want to find work. Here are some suggestions:
Remain fully committed to your job search. I know it’s difficult to remain committed, especially if you’ve been at your job search for an extended period of time. But you won’t improve your joblessness if you’re not fully committed. Perseverance is the key.
Remain positive. Easier said, than done, you say. Well, the fact that you’re facing challenges in your job search doesn’t mean you’re entitled to self-pity—it’ll get you nowhere. By being positive, you’ll be better equipped to overcome challenges as they come up in your job search, and be more successful enlisting help from others.
Don’t let pride be your Achilles Heel. Older unemployed with senior-level experience believe that their job search will not be long, and then can’t understand why they haven’t landed a job. Others wait it out, turning down offers because it’s “beneath them.” Pride (even arrogance) can be your downfall.
Don’t handicap yourself. Older unemployed are convinced their age is the reason they can’t land a job—“I’m too old,” which they translate into “I’m over qualified,” “They can’t afford me,” “My skills aren’t up to date,” or “I can’t compete against the ‘younger’ job seekers.” Too many older job seekers use age as a crutch—as if it were a real handicap—to justify their unemployment status.
An “old dog” must learn new tricks. Today’s job search process is totally alien to older unemployed—most lack the new job search skills. It’s foolish to think that a job outplacement firm hired by your former employer as an “employee benefit” or a recruiter will find a job for you. Wrong! You’re going to have to learn a few new “tricks” to be successful in today’s networked and database-driven job market.
Vince Ebata is a Career Management Coach who specializes in helping people think and act more strategically about their careers and achieve it! Contact Vince at 972-768-7335 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE and confidential consultation session.