If you are over 50 and feel like you're running a losing battle trying to keep up, you might be right. This statement was made by Richard Norgaard, a retirement specialist. At the time, I wondered whether or not this was true for most people over 50. And if so, what contributed to the feelings.
If we look at the trends, we may find some answers as to why you may feel like you are running a losing battle and what you can do about it.
Trend # 1
New technology is adopted unbelieveably fast. Just look at the millions of people eagerly purchasing the newest Apple phone in the first twenty-four hours. What use to take decades now takes only days or weeks depending on the product. Within less than a decade there has been the fall of Napster and the rise of the iPod and the iPad, the fall of AOL and the rise of Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and one of the latest social media favorites Pinterest. Bottom line: technology innovation destroys entire industries as it creates new ones. Furthermore, these events happen within a few years, not decades or generations.
During the last decade, Boomers have been told they will be able to continue to keep working if they want to because of a significant "brain drain" in the work force as more people retire. The truth is the "brain drain" is less of an issue because many old jobs are disappearing due to automation, outsourcing, and technology. Many baby boomers with industrial-age skills are no longer needed in the job market.
Experience that earned middle-class wages and respect are less relevant in the job market today. Skills that once earned high middle-income wages no longer are required for many positions. They cease to be a ticket for a job. The exceptions to this trend are those individuals who are willing to learn new skills and or adapt to different situations. This means having an open mind and a willingness to learn new ways of doing things.
Many new application processes are handled by administering a variety of tests, many of which are performed on a computer. These may eliminate candidates by looking for key words in resumes. If they are not found in the resume, the candidate is automatically dropped. Completing personality tests may also be part of the application process.
If you want to continue to work as you get older, you need to be willing to do the following things to keep up with these current trands:
- Be willing to keep learning new things. This may also mean keeping your skills current. Community colleges are a good place to look for a variety of classes. Certification courses are also offered in college settings as well as online.
- Develop a new story about your past work experience by relating it to what it will bring to the new position. Indicate that you enjoy learning and working as hard as anyone else. Give examples of where you have done that in your recent past.
- Find a coach or mentor who may be yournger than you are. Not only can you learn something from someone younger than you, but also based on your experience, you may be able to help that person. Mentoring can be mutually rewarding and beneficial. These arrangements can be formal or informal.
Looking back over the years, there have always been trends in life. The difference now is that they happen more quickly and frequently. Keep an open mind when these challeges arrive. Intentionally choose to use the above recommendations to be resilient, stay current in the workforce, and know that you matter.
When have you run into these trends, and how have you handled them?
Until next time,