Laid Off In Your 50’s
Organizations change gears rapidly when the economic climate necessitates adjustments. The pandemic has caused many businesses to tighten belts and implement drastic changes in their operations. COVID-19 casualties unfortunately also include people forced into unexpected layoffs and terminations. Without a doubt, job loss is distressing for everyone. But for an older individual a decade or less shy of retirement, it can come like a slap in the face. It has the potential to throw your long-term financial planning into total disarray. You might still be paying off a mortgage and have children to support through college. If you have experienced advancement in your seniority and income over the last few years, then losing your job will weigh on you heavily. Coveted, high-paying jobs are harder to find; you may wonder how you will ever get back on your feet.
The Ageism Problem
The matter of senior workers becoming vulnerable to job loss is not new. Over the last two decades, technology changed vast sectors of commerce and industry. Many individuals in their 50’s and 60’s were caught completely off guard by younger counterparts, who embraced computers, mobile devices and apps that boosted productivity levels. Senior workers lost jobs at organizations with cultures that believed older workers were overpaid and unable to work efficiently.
We have now had time to reflect on the ageism problem at workplaces bolstered by scientific evidence that debunks the myth of older workers being a handicap. While human mental potency declines after 30, knowledge and expertise continue to grow well into our 80’s. Intellectually engaged people can continue contributing to the labour market, regardless of age. Older workers make great mentors and can help bring discipline to grow teams of younger workers. Their experience can instill confidence in decision-making processes.
The first issue anyone laid off in their 50’s must overcome is the ageism problem in your own mind. Losing your job can affect your confidence, feelings of self-worth and relationships with family and friends. This negativity will also impact your ability to job hunt. So, let’s start with how you can productively get back on your feet.
Tend To Your Finances
If you have just been laid off, give yourself a few days to catch your breath. As soon as you can, tackle your severance package, head-on. How well you negotiate will determine how strong a financial bridge you have to ride out the next few weeks and months. Consulting with a lawyer will help ensure you do not leave anything behind.
Also, within 30 days of your last day at work, you must attend to your Employment Insurance application. You can investigate your eligibility, the impact of your severance package as well as the application process either online or at your local Service Canada location.
Health & Life Insurance
If you negotiated a few more weeks of health insurance in your severance package, then don’t let it slide. Now is the time to focus on self-care. Renew your prescription medications and book the dental and optical appointments. Don’t forget to maximize other wellness benefits like massage and chiropractic treatments. Also, if you received group life insurance, you may need to shop around for private equivalents to replace it.
Laid Off: Job Loss Counselling
If your severance package included outplacement services, then you will find it worthwhile engaging the services of a career coach. It is quite normal to feel unmotivated for a short time following a job loss and grieving it is an important part of the healing process. At Equity, our career coaches will explore whether you require job loss counselling to help catapult you forward. Some individuals need this nudge to get out of the rut and to the other side. Your coach can be an important ally who ensures your laid-off status does not come to symbolize failure in your mind. We will reinforce positivity, guide you and reenergize you to face the highs and lows of job hunting.
Structuring Your Time When Laid Off
Once you are ready, your full-time job will become looking for a job. If you are receiving a severance package, your former employer will expect this of you due to a legal technicality known as the employee’s duty to mitigate the job loss. Adding structure to your day will help greatly. We will inject discipline into your job hunting process to ensure you engage productively during the week and take time off to relax during weekends. Furthermore, we will remind you of your self-care. Without a commute, you now have time to get fit and focus on your physical well being. Building a well-rounded routine of activities into your week will ensure you keep isolation and depression at bay.
Volunteering and Transitional Jobs
Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with others. The sheer act of kindness to help others less fortunate can elevate your own mood. Similarly, taking on temporary contract jobs, even those not in your direct line of work will help with cash flow. Both scenarios will get you out of the house, widen your circle of contacts and teach you new skills. We will encourage you to seek out these opportunities as often as you can.
Job Hunting With A Career Coach
Looking for work means marketing yourself. Executives and individuals in senior positions will find this much more productive with a coach by your side who can make you meet these goals faster. Equity’s career coaches will help you define your value proposition. We identify the inventory of skills you possess beyond the basic functional tasks of your job. Surprisingly, most individuals underestimate and understate transferrable skills, like problem-solving and project management. Yet employers covet and value them. Using this information, we help position you in the best possible light with a compelling resume and polished LinkedIn profile.
We then help you market yourself to a wider range of employers than you might have considered on your own. Many senior roles are not advertised at all by human resource departments. When they are, they are sourced in a very different manner. You will need to tackle both the visible and the hidden job markets, and your approach requires much more nuance and sophistication.
Most executives have worked very hard to achieve success, often at great expense to their personal lives and health. While many want to move up and on to growth, a few consider exploring new options to accommodate flexibility for better work/ life balance. Your extensive experience may allow you to pivot your skills into consulting and entrepreneurship. We help you navigate all of this and remain at your side with networking and interview readiness.
Starting over in your 50’s can be a daunting experience, but it does not have to be. In our experience, candidates who are open to a paradigm change perform very well after a job loss. It brings opportunities for self-discovery and reinvention to make the next phase very rewarding.
Susan Heim is the president of Equity Career Transition and Outplacement Services, offering personalized coaching services for individuals in their quest for the perfect job and career. Equity also provides cost-effective outplacement services for organizations, large and small, in both the private and public sector.
If you enjoyed this blog, please consider sharing it.