Whether you’ve enjoyed a comfortable, long-term career or entered the workforce only sporadically throughout your adulthood, your golden years should be about enjoying life and nurturing your soul. Even if you’re not quite at the point in life where retirement is a sound option, it doesn’t mean that you have to be stuck in an aging trade or career that has long ceased to be personally gratifying.
In fact, instead of serving as the gateway age of retirement, 50 can be the point of revitalization within your working life. It’s the perfect time to branch out into a new, modern industry or find a job with more flexibility than a traditional 9-to-5 can provide.
Here are some job search pointers for 50+ individuals.
Be Prepared for Possible Ageism
The sad truth is that many in the 50+ crowd face workplace and/or job search discrimination due to their age. Of course, age discrimination is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur every day, often subtly and for a number of reasons.
For starters, if you have extensive experience in a particular field, companies may not want to pay you what you’re worth and may instead hire a younger candidate who won’t balk at a lower starting salary. A 53-year-old woman in Wisconsin recently faced a similar situation at a Wisconsin university, and she has filed an age discrimination complaint against the facility with help from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
While you likely won’t encounter a lawsuit-worthy age discrimination issue on your job search, you should always be aware of the possibility. And if you feel that you’re being treated unfairly due to your age, it’s okay to speak up.
Find Freedom and Adaptability on the Road
Fortunately, you can easily avoid the possibility of age discrimination by working for yourself. Many in the 50+ age bracket are taking to the road, making money behind the wheel with a rideshare service. Driving for work later in life can be a rewarding and relaxing way to meet new, interesting people and make steady money on your own terms.
Uber and Lyft are the biggest names among rideshare companies, and 50+ drivers make up about 25 percent of their workforce.
As in any industry, there are risks and benefits that go along with a rideshare gig, no matter the driver’s age. In the case of ridesharing, drivers must keep their insurance up-to-date, properly maintain their vehicle, and ensure they’re in optimal health before getting behind the wheel.
Rideshare drivers over 50 may need to pay a bit more attention to health than their younger counterparts. If you take any medications, make sure you understand how you react to those medications before you transport passengers around town.
You may also want to get your hearing and vision tested as a safeguard prior to hitting the road, as significant changes to your senses can occur as you age. Vision changes related to age include the formation of cataracts as well as the onset of presbyopia, a form of farsightedness.
Consider the Digital Marketing Industry
It’s an unfortunate generalization, but the 50+ age bracket is often considered completely clueless when it comes to digital technology. But if you know your way around the internet and use your smartphone or tablet on a regular basis, you can help break down that unfortunate stereotype.
While digital marketing is typically seen as a job for young people, there’s no reason you can’t enter the digital marketing realm and thrive there. Digital marketing success requires frequent collaboration, adaptability, and the exchange of ideas, so having a range of ages represented in the workforce is actually an asset to any forward-thinking marketing agency.
It helps of you have background in SEO or analytics, but strong writing and communication skills are the cornerstones of digital marketing. You can easily stand out from other, younger candidates applying for a digital marketing job if you highlight your well-rounded employment experience.
Take Advantage of Your Extended Personal Network
The 50+ workforce also has an advantage over younger job seekers when it comes to networking. Here, your extensive life experience comes into play and elevates you above the competition. It’s a numbers game, but by default, you likely know more professionals in a variety of industries than most millennials.
Networking gives you the opportunity to think outside the box and expand your reach as you seek out a new job or career. You may even discover opportunity in the most unlikely places, such as a book club, charity event, or even a casual dinner with friends.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Let those in your network know what you need or want, career-wise, and be as specific as possible. You never know when opportunity will strike.
It’s important to note that networking involves nurturing and cultivating relationships and is often a waiting game. Patience and persistence are the keys to positive results when networking.
Use Your Hobby as a Catalyst for Freelance Work
What if you spent much of your adult life in a job that has left you financially stable yet unfulfilled? Maybe you have a hobby that you would like to turn into a money-making enterprise. Your post-50 years provide ample opportunity to take risks and pursue happiness.
A meaningful second act of life is easy to achieve for those with an enterprising mind and a passion for a particular activity, whether it’s photography, writing, or baking. Pursuing your passion can turn into a lucrative work-from-home job opportunity.
If you’re not sure that opening a full-fledged business is the right choice for you, there’s still plenty of opportunity to make money from your favorite activities. If you’re writer or photographer, consider starting a blog or working as a freelance contributor. Freelance work offers the potential for anonymity as well — you may not need to divulge your age, and you’ll have the freedom to work when and where you choose.
No matter your industry or overall goals, you can enjoy workplace success well into your 50s and beyond. By expanding your personal network, working for yourself, and remaining open to possibility, your age can be an asset rather than a hindrance to your job search.