Margaret attended her retirement party with mixed emotions. After spending thirty years with one employer in a variety of human resources functions, her new manager reorganized the department. Margaret was displaced along with five others and the 60-year-old, still in a state of shock, was embarking on a job search for the first time in decades. “I thought my tenure and loyalty to the company would count for something,” she lamented. Many Baby Boomers know at least one person in Margaret’s situation. Sudden job loss occurs in profit and not-for-profit organizations of all sizes and even though the economy is recovering, Boomers have to be strategic in deciding their next move.
The following three steps may help those rebounding from sudden job loss:
- Create a support network. There are groups throughout central Indiana set up to assist the unemployed. In addition to the networking component, being part of a job-search group keeps Boomers connected with others to avoid isolation. WorkOne Indy offices offer training and employment services. If an employer offers outplacement services, take advantage of this benefit. It is an opportunity to do more than update a resume or understand LinkedIn. Outplacement counselors work with many people who experience sudden job loss and can help direct Boomers to local resources.
- Maintain your flexibility. When searching for new work, Boomers often have to reinvent themselves. Be open to targeting smaller companies that may have more flexible career tracks that accommodate Boomers more than larger employers. A freelance assignment, consulting work or temporary job could also lead a Boomer to their next career. Consider volunteering a few hours a week. Being of service is a break from constant job-search mode, an opportunity to make new contacts and altruism has health benefits.
- Maintain a positive attitude. After a sudden job loss many Boomers experience grief and have to work through that process while networking, reinventing themselves and maintaining their financial obligations. It is difficult to find the energy and vivaciousness an experienced worker has to convey during an interview. The positive attitude, smile, firm handshake and full engagement may sometimes be difficult to muster; however, it is what employers expect and a key to being hired. Talking to a certified career coach or other counselor may be helpful to develop strategies to stay positive during the transition back to work.
Two years later, Margaret is working part-time and enjoying a semi-retired lifestyle. Early in her job search, she found a three-month temporary HR assignment online. Soon afterwards, she made a career change outside of human resources. A year into her job search Margaret connected with a hiring manager and accepted a supervisory position with a major retailer. She describes her sudden job loss as “tough” and says the support of family and friends were instrumental in building a new career.