Re-imagining Your Career Past 50

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Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

Keeping your career moving forward after 50 can be tough – just ask the four out of five Baby Boomers who expect to keep working even well past retirement age. Though age-discriminatory practices in the workplace are prohibited by law, 60% of workers and professionals age 45 and up say they have experienced workplace ageism in some form or another. Some businesses even operate under blatantly ageist policies as is the case with IBM in 2013 and its effort to “correct seniority mix,” and has since then has forced more than 20,000 employees (aged 40 and up) out of their workforce.

Disparaging ageist comments may be uncomfortable or even outright offensive to hear, but in many cases, rudeness is the least of older professionals’ worries. Nearly 20% of Americans experiencing age discrimination in the workplace have said it comes in the form of losing out on jobs, being passed over for promotions, and even being fired for “unclear reasons.” So when necessity keeps us from retirement, how can Baby Boomers stay ahead in this age-obsessed corporate world? Simple: entrepreneurship.

Rethinking Success (At Any Age)

Sylvia DeWitt, the administrator for the Iowa Entrepreneurs Coalition addresses the rising phenomenon of “retirement aged” professionals seeking new opportunities outside of their traditional corporate career. She says, “Many Baby Boomers are not interested in retirement. They’re always interested in building something.” Today, 49% of self-employed workers are Baby Boomers taking advantage of what the gig economy has to offer. Even beyond Millennials, utilizing what the gig economy and freelance work have to offer is right in the wheelhouse of older professionals. Here’s why.

Freelance work most frequently done by older professionals ranges from business and financial services to sales to construction and repair. Turning to their extensive networks built over decades, older professionals don’t necessarily have to rely on social media and technology to find connections, partners, or mentors. For Baby Boomers, 75% enjoy gig economy and freelance work, higher than the 45% of Gen Xers and the 67% of Millennials who are both more likely to utilize tech for finding work opportunities.

The Rise of “Grey-preneurs”

In the case of entrepreneurship, it may, in fact, be easier for older Americans to get a foothold than younger ones. Utilizing the advantages of age like experience, industry skills, and vast networks of connections, these professional assets often go ignored in corporate America to make room for younger, newer candidates. Instead, it’s these qualities that get entrepreneurs the loans they need to start off; investors are more likely to give preference for those this proven business acumen, more assets, better credit, and experience. Today, the majority of small business owners are over 50, with 42% saying they were pursuing a passion and 43% saying they were simply ready to be their own boss.

As more and more Baby Boomers reject “traditional” retirement, almost 25% of the workforce of 2024 is projected to be made up of individuals aged 55 and over. Ready to sharpen your skills, get ahead, and give yourself a competitive edge like never before? Here’s how it’s done at any age, detailed in this infographic.

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Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

1 Comment

  1. In the Hartford, Connecticut area, the Seniors Job Bank, a nonprofit community organization, has just entered its 40th year of connecting people over 50 seeking work with companies, public agencies and households looking for workers. SJB maintains a roster of approximately 700 men and women representing about 150 discrete skills and abilities, blue and white collar. While many of these “service providers’ choose to continue practicing their accustomed vocations, others seize the opportunity to profit from knowledge and talents they didn’t — or couldn’t — apply during their regular careers. The jobs they find through SJB may be one-off gigs or traditional continuing assignments. In some cases, service providers have turned short term engagements into new, independent businesses. Seniors Job Bank referrals are free; there no charge to the service provider or the hiring “client.”