Searching for a new job? It’s about what you can do

Elderly elegant man on his recruitment meeting

Image: Kasia Bialasiewicz/

You often hear statements such as ‘80 is the new 60’; or, ‘60 is the new 40’. But how do these sentiments transfer to the workforce? Not very well it seems—and particularly if you want to work in the high-tech Silicon Valley.

A recent article in USA Today reported that technology workers over the age of 40 in Silicon Valley have a tough time finding work. The median ages in the technology companies vary, but they’re all well under 40: 33 years of age at Microsoft; 30 at Amazon; 31 years at Apple; while Google has a median employee age of 30. At Facebook, it’s 29 years.

The article went on to talk about the universal problem of ageism—and of one over-50 man’s resume being rejected 300 times.

This isn’t exactly encouraging. The article gives no solutions and suggests that ageism is not limited to Silicon Valley.

Finding work over 50 (and, in some instances, over the age of 40) may not be easy, but there is some hope.

Independent LinkedIn Specialist and founder of Newcomers Network, Sue Ellson, has some thoughts about finding a job if you’re over 50 years of age. She calls it ‘tough love’. With a background in Human Resources, Sue says, ‘It is not about what you can’t do, it is about what you can do.’

Sue wrote to show that there’splenty of hope and opportunity if you are over 50. It is definitely not the end of your career, your working life, your business or any other way you would like to spend your time’. She also relates her own experience of not having a job.

It’s worth reading Sue’s article, Tough Love for Unemployed Job Seekers Over 50 years of Age, because she also gives strategies for people over 50 looking for work.

One person who found an opportunity is Ed. He went from high-tech marketing and developing software, to a different sort of business. In his 40s, he followed his passion for horses to buy an established ‘Equine Management’ business.

It’s very different to his previous employment, but one that allows him to be outdoors, gives him networks and he runs his own business. Fortunately for Ed he was well known in the local equestrian community and says he had ‘tons of contacts’ and horses are a ‘really important passion in my life’.

What does Ed’s business, ‘Green Waste’ do? Ed says, ‘In a nut shell, I haul manure.’

He adds, ‘[That’s] not very glamorous but it’s what you do with the manure that’s critical. Most people pay to have it hauled to the dump. I talked with a few people and now we’re composting the manure and selling it back to local landscape architects who can’t get enough of this stuff. Additionally, the pressures of urban sprawl are putting huge demands on horse owners to manage their manure differently than they had in the past.’

Of course, every business has its challenges. Ed offers the following two tips:

  • Make sure the business you’re going after is something that stirs your passion otherwise you might as well go work for someone else
  • Select a business that is distressed, analyse the heck out of it, determine where the hinge factors are and be honest with yourself in that you can truly impact those hinge factors

It’s good to know that people like Sue and Ed are two of many giving hope to people over 50. It can be tough finding a new path, but careful research, networking and following your passion may well be the keys to finding a rewarding occupation.

Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways to Retire and co-author of Where to Retire in Australia and Retire Bizzi. She is a regular contributor to ABC radio.

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Category: Working

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