Over 55 and Experiencing Long Term Unemployment
According to a recent AARP article:
In September, more than 1.3 million workers age 55 and older were unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among job seekers in that age group, roughly half have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, which puts them in the category of long-term unemployed.
This is a staggering number given that over 50% of all workers 55+ said they were out of the labor force due to retirement.
My rough calculations tell me that about 1 out of every 20 people in the US who are over 55 years of age is experiencing long-term unemployment.
Why is that?
Is it ageism?
I am sure that is part of the problem.
Are we part of the problem?
Yes, we are part of the problem.
Let’s discuss both sides of this problem.
Long Term Unemployment Due to Ageism
Lisa Rangel of Chameleon Resumes was recently interviewed by Andrew Seaman, Senior Editor for Job Search & Careers at LinkedIn News. The event was called How to Overcome Ageism: Using Your Experience to Your Advantage.
Lisa discusses various mind traps to avoid. It is easy to think if you did not get the job it was due to ageism. Lisa says in the absence of knowledge we tend to fill in the blanks. I refer to this as Make Stuff Up(MSU) disorder.
I recently was speaking to a woman who was getting a lot of interviews but was not landing an offer. She insisted that it had to be ageism and there was nothing wrong with her interview skills. She did not want to any responsibility for her performance in interviews. Yes, interviews are performances and you are an actor.
Lisa talks about changing your mindset and how you address ageism.
There is no question in my mind that ageism is a major factor in that so many workers 55+ are experiencing long-term unemployment but … it is not the only factor.
Acceleration of Change
The disruption that has occurred since the beginning of the pandemic has accelerated change. I discussed in my post “Career and Industry Disruption – You Just Can’t Make This Stuff Up!” some pretty remarkable changes have occurred.
This has led to the creation of a new concept in retail, a dark store. A Dark Store is a brick-and-mortar location that has been shut down and turned into a center for fulfillment operations. Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, opened up their first dark store in Brooklyn in the 2nd half of 2020. Walmart is pursuing the same strategy and they are exploring ghost kitchens.
We have been seeing the acceleration of the adoption of artificial intelligence in just about everything including interviewing. Check out the post called Acing the Video Interview, plus the Latest Challenge – HireVue. Many of you have been interviewing with robots and the experience is not fun.
My question to you is have you been adapting to this change? I would hope that you are embracing the change with enthusiasm.
Adapting Your Mindset to Long Term Unemployment
I know many of you have been unemployed for more than 6 months. As I write this post right before the Christmas holidays of 2021, it sure looks like the pandemic is going to stretch well into 2022.
To quote my friend Thom Singer, you just have to get scrappy. I interviewed Thom twice on the Repurpose Your Career podcast about what he was doing to adapt to the pandemic. Thom’s speaking business was completely shut down due to the pandemic starting in March of 2020. He could have curled up into a little ball and said woe is me. He did not and as he says he got scrappy.
I suggest you listen to these 2 episodes:
- Pivoting a Speaking Career in a Time of Pandemic [Podcast]
- 2021 Update – Pivoting a Speaking Career in a Time of Pandemic [Podcast]
If you listened to Lisa Rangel you would have heard speak about adapting your mindset in dealing with this new normal.
What Have You Been Doing While Unemployed?
If you regularly read this blog or listen to the podcast you would read or hear me talk about relevancy. Your years of experience are irrelevant if your skills are not relevant to solving the problems of today.
How have you been keeping your skills up to date? Have you been taking training to update your skills? Have you taken on side projects to gain experience?
I also realize that many of you have gotten involved in caregiving. This could be for parents, children, grandchildren. Gaps in your resume due to caregiving has been common and recruiter and hiring managers accept this. What you have to do is own this and be able to discuss this in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and in interviews. You very likely gained valuable skills going through this.
My mother was in her late 30s when I was born in the mid-1950s. I ended up being responsible for my mother, i.e. reverse parenting, in my late 30s and early 40s. I learned a LOT that I can explain. You can too!
Full-time employment may not be on the horizon shortly. I have spoken with a lot of job club leaders in the last 6 months. One of the common themes has been those who have been going back to work have been taking contract jobs. This pays the bills gets them back into a regular pattern of work.
A record number of 55+ workers have started a business. If you have not started a side business during this time, now is a good time to do it. The days of stable full-time employment and that steady paycheck are likely over for many.
You need to get scrappy, be entrepreneurial and develop a growth mindset.
Ageism is alive and well. When you go back to work you will likely work for someone younger than yourself. Maybe someone a lot younger than yourself. You will need to adapt, adapt and continue to adapt.
Are you willing to embrace this or continue to be part of the community of long-term unemployed?