As if finding a job wasn’t hard enough for those making a midlife career change, but add to it the additional challenges that come from COVID-19 and things do start to look pretty bleak. If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who have not tested positive for the coronavirus, finding employment won’t be easy. That’s because so many businesses, regardless of size, have been forced to downsize to stay alive. That means a lot of people have lost their jobs and are flooding the job market alongside you. But you do have some advantages compared to these younger workers. All you need to do is follow these simple tips and let them guide you through the ever-changing landscape that has been impacted now, and will likely be continually impacted until the pandemic is brought under control.
Tip #1 - Don’t Let COVID-19 Be Your Main Focus
You can’t let the situation that is clearly out of your hands take control over your thoughts and fears. Sure, don’t ignore it, either. COVID-19 is much more than that giant elephant in the room. So, wear a mask, wash and disinfect your hands frequently, socially distance, and stick to the protocols that exist to keep you and those around you safe. The last thing you need is for a potential new employer to sense that the pandemic is wearing you down (even if it is) and making you afraid to interact with anyone in public. It’s also a good idea to stroke COVID-19 off of your list of conversation starters. This is especially true in a job interview situation. However, if you get asked about what you are doing to stay safe during the pandemic, it’s okay to give a brief rundown of the precautions you are taking. Just keep it basic and short.
Tip #2 - Emphasis Your Tech Savviness
This one may require some homework if you don’t already have and use either a tablet or smartphone. That’s because with COVID-19 changing how things get done in the workplace, chances are good that you will be expected to be able to perform some or many of your job duties from a computerized tool of some sort. This tends to be one of the biggest hurdles for job seekers in the over-50 age group. Not all of them have handheld devices and this will push you close to the bottom of the pile of applicants if you don’t know what an app is or how to use a tablet for job-related tasks. The other side of the coin is that if you are rather proficient at software use, lean on this in your cover letter and list the different types of software you have experience with. This means things other than having an email account.
Tip #3 - Be Flexible About Your Worksite
One thing that over-50 job seekers seem to be known for is their ability to not be very flexible about where they end up doing the bulk of their work for the day. Offices, cubicles, and such are common tools that over-50 employees are quite comfortable with. However, that is not the way today’s work environment functions. Working remotely has become much more than a trend since COVID-19 became the new kid on the block. Working from home, working on the go, and working anywhere but at the office is the new normal. You will have to shake off those habits of sticking to a single desk location where you get to know the office culture and become friends with co-workers in the same row of cubicles. Showing flexibility in where you work will be an attractive asset to any employer regardless of your experience.
Tip #4 - Although Age Is Just A Number, Don’t Bring It Up
For over-50 job seekers looking to make their midlife career change, nothing says you are old like sharing your age with a job interviewer who is younger than your grown children. That doesn’t mean you should hide it like a company secret, but you shouldn’t make it easy to figure out, either. In your resume, leave dates out of the details such as your year of graduation. You want to be considered for the job you are applying for simply based on your skills and not because you are the most senior of the applicants. Besides, age discrimination is a serious matter but you don’t want to give anyone hints that could tip them off. Once hired, it’s okay to fill out the paperwork with your date of birth, provided it is needed for such things as employment records, T-4 income tax slips, etc. Otherwise, it’s nobody’s business.
Tip #5 - Build A Social Media Profile
Even if you don’t spend much time on the internet, your competitors in line at the job interview very likely do. As intimidating as it may sound, you essentially don’t exist these days without profiles that can be located and searched on a handful of popular social media platforms. The idea here is that prospective employers will turn to social media to find out more about you that does not appear in your resume or cover letter. If their search turns up nothing, you become suspect of possibly hiding information. For an over-50 job seeker, this is much like the kiss of death. So, put some effort into building social media profiles on popular platforms so that you are visible in this sort of search. It also shows your new boss that you are not afraid to engage with others through technology which works in your favour in so many ways.
Tip #6 - Learn How To Use Video Tools
Another thing that COVID-19 has done in the employment world is pushed video conferencing platforms into the mainstream. These are now commonly used to conduct remote meetings where several individuals can attend from wherever they happen to be as long as they have an internet connection. By having a strong understanding of these tools and the ability to use them effectively, you push yourself up the ladder of eligibility. Sure, most of the other job candidates will know what Zoom and Ring are and have probably used them a few times already. But by also having that same level of knowledge, you even the playing field which increases your odds of having a better chance at getting the job than if you had never heard of video conferencing let alone understood what it was intended for.
COVID-19 has eliminated a lot of jobs and if you are in the over-50 age group planning on a midlife career change, now is as good a time as any to enter the job market. You just need to have a few things in place that will help you compete against those much younger than you seeking the same jobs. For more information on how to navigate through the third-quarter transition as an over-50 job seeker, check out my eBook on the subject HERE.
Have you ever sat at your work desk and wondered what your life would be like if you made a change? I’m not talking about those typical daydreams we have on those cold, snowy days that make us wish we won the lottery and were spending six months of the year on a tropical beach soaking up the sun. I’m asking about your job. Do you feel that it is the right fit for you or have you outgrown it? This is a fair question and something that many of us wrestle with well into our career paths. It’s scary to consider making a change and for those of us over 45, it’s even more frightening - but, still very doable. In this blog post, I am going to go over four reasons why you should think about a midlife career change.
Reason #1 - Shake Up Your Retirement Options
Many of us grew up with the 9 to 5 workweek as the career template that we expected to follow until we turned 65. At that point, there would be a retirement party, possibly a gold watch, and a pension that we would collect monthly as we tried to stay busy in our post-career lives. Well, I’m sure I don’t have to explain that the office of today is very different. I know several people in my age group and younger who work shifts, have work-from-home jobs or are working part-time somewhere just to stay connected with their community. It is because of these options, you don’t have to stay in the same job well into your 40s or 50s or beyond. I have a work-from-home job that I started several years before we saw the shift to this kind of work due to COVID-19 restrictions. For me, I can work this type of job for as long as I wish and that includes using it to generate extra income well into my retirement years. I never saw myself as a 9 to 5 type in the first place having always been a shift worker. Working from home is easier.
Reason #2 - Use Your Skill Set In A Different Way
Looking at my situation, I went from my first career in Broadcasting to my second career in Print Media. They were very much alike in several ways, but the change gave me a way to utilize the skills I have acquired from Broadcasting but did not use as much to being able to make better use of those skills. As an example of what I mean, one of my tasks in Broadcasting was advertising sales. I was able to take that skill and apply it to advertising sales in Print Media. The difference came from the product I was selling. Instead of writing and producing radio ads, I found myself creating print ads. That became a new skill that was supported by an old skill. I was also a news reporter who wrote and read the news at the radio station I worked at. When I switch to Print Media, I was still able to be a news reporter, but now the stories I covered I could tell in photos and written words in the newspaper. When you make a midlife career change, it allows you to use different skills or use existing skills in a new and different way. This makes the transition interesting and keeps you learning which keeps you engaged in what you are doing.
Reason #3 - It Gives You Midlife Flexibility
If you were like me, you probably thought you would work hard through your 20s to get established in your career and maybe save some money on the side. By the time you hit your 30s, you were married, started a family, and were looking to buy a home and settle down. When your 40s rolled around, your responsibilities and priorities changed again. The same with your 50s and 60s. My life followed a different pattern than that, but the same basic goals were in place. The point I’m making is that by the time you get into your 50s, your needs have changed considerably to what they were when you first started your career. It also means that possibly you no longer need the pressures that come from the job you’ve had all of these years. Even if your goal is to keep working well into your retirement years, changing careers for something less stressful or complicated might not be such a bad idea. By making this sort of shift, you give yourself a lot more flexibility than you may have had available in your first career. One thing is for sure, you won’t be chasing after the same dreams you had back then as your life should have settled to where you can enjoy what you do.
Reason #4 - You Can Be Happy
Probably the biggest benefit I have experienced since I made my midlife career change and got out of the Print Media business to start my own work-from-home freelance writing business is that I am much happier about where I am in my life and happy with what I do. I have a great deal of control in that I work mostly half days and take time off when I want to. I take on select jobs, have a couple of contracts in place, and work at a leisurely pace. It has been proven time and time again that when you enjoy what you do, it does not feel like work. That is why you see some employers setting up gyms, and offering all kinds of on-site perks to employees to make them enjoy the time spent in the office. Happy employees are more productive and tend to stick around longer which reduces turnover - a costly factor any employer has to deal with. So, it just makes sense that if you make a midlife career change into doing something you like, you will want to stick with it and it satisfies you. I find a great deal of pleasure out of being a freelancer and it does not feel like a job. I also don’t have to go to an office, nor do I have to meet clients. I truly love what I do.
There are many reasons to consider making a midlife career change. Not all of them are related specifically to age and ability. There are practical reasons that may not be obvious right away. That is why I have highlighted four of the reasons that have been important in my decision to change careers later in life. To find out more about what a midlife career change is all about and how you can do it painlessly, why not order a copy of my eBook on the subject? The link to it on Amazon is HERE.
So, how are you coping now that we are eight months into a pandemic? Depending on where you live, you are either dealing with different guidelines laid out by your local government health department or ignoring them. We live in British Columbia. In March 2020 we experienced a shutdown that forced us to close one of our businesses. It remained closed for 14+ weeks. We were not sure if we would be able to reopen or not for the longest time. There was a great deal of uncertainty and once we could reopen, there were several new guidelines we had to follow. They were not that difficult to adapt to and our business has been open ever since.
But What If There Is Another Shutdown?
That is a real question facing us these days as the British Columbia provincial health department has changed things again. It seems the guidelines are constantly evolving so far in late November 2020. Face masks were made mandatory in all public settings with an emphasis on indoor locations. Then face shields were considered not good enough, only certain masks. We have cloth masks (not considered effective) as well as 4-ply paper masks (the preferred choice). We have been wearing masks when shopping or at any other public venue since March, so this part is easy for us. It allows us to keep our business functioning while staying safe.
However, a two-week period meant to break the cycle of COVID-19 cases being confirmed in the province is the new plan. Whether you agree with mask-wearing or not or consider the virus a "plandemic" or not is not where I am going here. I'm more interested in discussing what it has been like living in a state of emergency for as long as we have. We've seen small businesses close down for good because of the restrictions. It has been both difficult and incredible for entrepreneurs at this point. Some have lost far too much to recover and others have found innovation to keep enough cash-flow to pay their most important bills.
But another shutdown would be devastating for those of us who have managed to stay on top of things so far. Then there are the mental health issues that come into play. I think that is why I see some people ignoring arrows on grocery store floors and not keeping their distance. Everyone is on edge, cranky, and had it to here with rules that seem to keep changing and no real solid proof that any of it is actually working. That doesn't mean we will quit wearing our masks as a protest. It just means that going into Winter with issues is just going to get compounded with the shorter days and colder weather. It's not going to be pretty.
What Has This Got To Do With A Midlife Career Change?
Well, COVID-19 could be the catalyst for change in your life. If you are a business owner, you've seen the decrease in revenue and have probably had to lay off some staff in order to stay somewhat fluid. Or maybe your job disappeared as a result of the pandemic or your position is one that can't be converted into a work-from-home model. These changes have impacted employed Canadians across the country and in all age demographics. For those of us in the 35+ year bracket, it will have somewhat of a greater impact. However, I can tell you that if that is your scenario, you are at the perfect age to start over, doing something else, even if you don't think you can.
COVID-19 is opening many doors for entrepreneurs to use technology in ways it has never been used before. Teleconferencing, telemedicine, remote working, and similar processes are creating many opportunities for those who are seeking means to stay employed. It also means that online freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are starting to draw more interest from people who are now working from home. It is how I built my home-based business and although my job numbers have gone down slightly from what I suspect is related to the pandemic, I still get plenty of work monthly from around the world. But how do you do it?
Need tips on how to reinvent yourself in the COVID world? I can help you survive a midlife career change in your life. All you have to do is order a copy of my eBook: "Surviving Midlife Career Changes?" It is available at Amazon by clicking HERE.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.