Finding a Job After 50

Jacqui Kenyon

workers in their 50s“You’re overqualified for the position.”

This is the rationale that many unemployed workers in their fifties hear when they aren’t chosen for a job. But since these workers are 20% less likely to become re-employed compared to those age 25 to 34, some think that ageism is at play.

According to CNN Money, researchers at Boston College are calling people in their 50s “the new unemployables.”

Almost two-thirds of unemployed workers age 55 and older have been searching for a job for over a year, when only a third of younger workers have been looking that long. Unemployed workers between 55 and 64 also are unemployed for the longest stretches—11 months on average, compared to eight months for 25- to 36-year-olds.

As a result, almost 50% of unemployed baby boomers believed age discrimination was part of the reason they hadn’t been able to find work, according to a survey by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

It may not be pure age discrimination, however: In this kind of job market, employers have their pick of people to fill open positions, and younger people have more technical skills and are less expensive.

  • AP

    “younger people have more technical skills and are less expensive.”  I run circles around most younger people in terms of technical skills, but there’s a perception that is really harmful out there, which you’ve just perpetuated.  Let’s get some hard data.

    • Guestie

      I agree, its a nasty, negative mindset in this country for sure, perpetuated by television and cinema’s obsession with beauty and youth. We need to be smarter than what media and ad agencies tell us, and frankly, we as a culture aren’t “that” kind of intelligent anymore. At least not in Los Angeles where I live, the epitomy of that kind of back-thinking. Everyone is a follower-type, yet everyone thinks they are so smart and unique. Sorry to say, they aren’t. It’s all these supposed intelligent technical young people who are ruining the world for the rest of is. I’m in my 30s and I can see it, and its SCARY. Most of the kids younger than me, offering themselves as experts, I end up finding out its all SHOW and FLUFF. I know way more than the supposed pros. Oh, and male pros, those are my favorite. Men are the ultimate fluffed and puffed up chickens. I digress….start thinking differently and stop letting media dictate how the world works!!!!

      • Alan House

        Ditto on that…..and I’m glad they’re not waving those cameras around so much to make it look like live news footage..many times over-done to make sure the effect is noticed….I mean I was getting fricken vertigo from all that foolishness.

  • Falvarez

    Yes  I agree younger people have more techical skills and are less expensive and very often “UNRELIABLE”. Always on their smarphones checking their facebook accounts or online shopping from their work computer. 

  • OldProf

    This isn’t a new reality!  Face it, when you were starting out, who did you want to work with?  Someone the age of your parents?  Or someone young like you, someone you could relate to and talk with, someone you’d have a drink after work with.  And that isn’t us today!

    When I was young, I looked at co-workers more than 10 years older than me as either beneath me or as flawed in some manner.  After all, why would they be doing a job that I, a relative newbie, was also doing (ok, this was a professional job, but it was my first out of grad school)? 

    Today I’m older, and far more understanding when I’m told that I don’t have the same skills as the young.  Fact is, I don’t.  But studies confirm that my experiences more than make up for the lack of technical skills – and I am able to adapt my old knowledge to new skills far more quickly (since I have reference points to adapt from). 

    So the question is, what would you – as younger employers or co-workers – suggest that we older workers do to get jobs fitting with our experience?  And how would you like us to relate to you as our fellow employees?  

  • kirby

    Hm. I love this website, and the articles are usually pretty great and helpful.

    I wanted to forward this article to my mom, who is looking for another job (fortunately, she is currently employed, but WAY below her skill level & pay grade). I’d hoped that this article would present some tips, as is usually the case. But in this instance, this article was quite a downer and entirely unhelpful. I’m not of this age group yet, and even I felt really discouraged reading it. The only solutions the reader is left to ponder are just giving up and dropping out of the job market altogether, or figuring out a way to get younger…  Of course, in another article on LV it was advised that older folks NOT use a younger photo of themselves when creating their LinkedIn profile. Catch 22 — what’s left to do?

    LV, I’m hoping someone on staff can re-edit this piece and offer some helpful tips so I’ve got something productive to send to my mom.

  • oldie but goodie

    yep – my reading is that while older workers are more experienced, tolerant, reliable and trustworthy, younger employers tend to choose similar-aged people – the old saw – do they choose the higher-skilled or a person they like – typically one they like and can relate to, a similar aged peer

    younger folk may be cheaper and more responsive and up with the latest fads, and as the under 35s tend to be the major spenders, any company wanting to sell more to that age group will tend to employ people of a similar age

    now – as for how to employ folk over 50 – I guess areas that appeal to older folk – health care, travel, assisted living, financial planning, retirement products


  • bscar

    I agree with @859a9d9ceea42d15a39d071a541c9cd2:disqus . I was going to pass this along to my father but there were no action items and not a worthwhile read for those that are looking for a job.  It is discouraging more than anything else.

  • cb11

    To echo other’s sentiments, I generally like the articles on this site too, but honestly this is pretty terrible, and barely counts as an article. I kept looking for the “next page” button or something because there was no information really given other than some depressing and fairly well-understood prior to this article’s conception statistics. 

    • robin

      Yep me too.  I was looking for the rest of the article.   This is worthless.

  • Heifer_01

    Sure and that is like saying “all teenagers are bad!” Wrong…

  • Alan House

    I find that working with the younger set is both rewarding and intimidating. The young seem to be in a now world and don’t want any advice about the future. That said, some can be a treasure chest full of short-cuts and pragmatism, and some are dumbfounded when I show them some trick of the trade that they were never taught. Like the time I walked into a room and immediately told them their speakers were out of phase (which from years of experience can detect in a half second). The bass was obviously in phase but the highs were not….I asked if some blown tweeters were replaced recently but they didn’t know. A couple days later a guy tells me the tweeter that was replaced 4 months ago was found to be wired backwards inside the cabinet. Now I’m asked frequently for my opinion when there are audio problems. They still have some odd outlooks on society and have a media-fed bias against conservatism. I beg them…start a 501K and get more company money, even if it’s only 1%. It’s so much easier to have happy sailing in your sixties when you have that 40 y.o. nestegg stash…just don’t blow it all.