What Do You Plan to Do After Age 50?

Businessman and businesswoman shake hands over a conference table. Horizontal shot.

This thing called "life" has been a huge adventure and I'm only 55 years old! Statistics show that—with a healthy lifestyle of diet, exercise and stress-free lifestyle—many Boomers will live past the ripe age of 100. I plan to be one of those people and stick around for the next 50 years.  

This question comes to mind: what shall I do with the rest of my life? This seems to be a common question among many professionals over 50 years of age.

The job market is ever-changing. Some would say that the Millennials have taken over, but Boomers are not ready to give up the workforce. For many reasons, we are still in the job market. Although some have retired and some have lost a job, Boomers have a myriad of talent, experience and education. There is still so much more we can and desire to contribute.

"With decades of honed talent under their belts, experienced workers are of intrinsic value to companies looking for qualified candidates to fill available positions, a segment of the workforce now receiving attention from select employment services dedicated to helping them find work," writes Charles Green in his article, Advantages of 50-Plus Employment Services.

I began my job search at the end of 2013. I found it fascinating that everything had changed. There was no longer the challenge or luxury of getting up in the morning, putting on my best, printing 50 copies of my resume, and pounding the pavement to find employment. Everything is now done online. I now can get up, pour a cup of coffee, sit at my computer all day, and search for a new career.  

I was not aware that there was a method to this job search venture. And somehow, my resumes were getting lost in the "black hole" of resumes. I received advice saying, "Don't put all of your experience on your resume, it shows your age." Some said go back only 10 years while others said 15 years is the longest you should reference. How do you record all of your experience in one resume if you cannot show your age? Now I was thoroughly confused.

Every now and then, I would run across a job fair that was being held at a large hotel or stadium. The advertisement read, "Bring lots of resumes. Employers will interview on site." Yes, this is more like it, I thought. I became very excited because here was the opportunity for someone to meet me face-to-face and see that I was not the average job seeker. I had maturity, experience, and this amazing personality that no one could forget.  

Cynthia Andrews

I arrived at the job fair to be met with thousands other job seekers, who apparently thought the same as I did. I got in line, behind Millennials, Generation Xers, and my peers—all of whom had confident but discouraged looks on their faces. Somehow we all identified each other and gave an encouraging nod of recognition and sympathy as we passed through the lines.

As I continued to attend these fairs, I saw the same folks, still seeking jobs, as I was. Something has got to change, I said to myself and out loud. Professionals over 50 are being passed over like wildfire.

I have spoken to numerous recruiters who have given me code phrases like, "We are seeking a more progressive culture" and "We are not sure if older workers will feel comfortable in such a youthful environment." I am ready to change the way we do business when it comes to recruiting. Due to my employment-seeking challenges, I started an online career site for professionals over 50. The Seattle Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens and AARP also provide employment services and many community colleges (North | Central | South) have received funding to sharpen technology skills so that we can have the tools to compete.

All employment services should be aware of age discrimination laws, including The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. That law was designed to protect workers age 40 and older from workplace discrimination due to their age.

If you are a job seeker age 50 or older, don't give up. There is now a movement to help us go back to work and continue to contribute. Once you are hired, the Boomers are becoming the talk of the office—in a positive way. So let's get back to work and give them something to talk about in the next 50 years.

Contributor Cynthia Andrews is co-founder of E-Merging Career Network. Formerly a longtime director of the Central Area Senior Center, Cynthia has advocated for older adults for many years and currently hosts Living It Up After 50 on BlogTalk Radio.