With talks of company layoffs and a possible recession, it’s prudent for older Americans who aren’t quite ready to retire to have a backup plan. Retirement Tip of the Week: Look over your resume, go through your list of contacts, brush up on any skills you need for your job and pretend you’re applying for a new one—the preparation will help should you ever need it.
Some workers are trying to prevent any period of unemployment in the midst of a looming recession, so they’re looking for a new job while still employed. The latest trend is called “career cushioning,” and its main focus is on getting another job quickly should employees be let go. See: What is ‘career cushioning’—and should you be doing it? The hiring process can be grueling, especially for older Americans. Ageism exists in the workplace but also the application process, such as through descriptions for ideal candidates. For example, job postings may ask for “energetic” applicants or those who are “digital natives.” There are also phrases such as “recent college graduate” or “five to seven years’ experience,” according to an AARP study. “Navigating through today’s job market is tough,” said Carly Roszkowski, vice president of financial resilience programming at AARP. Read: ‘I needed something to do’: How working in retirement is being embraced by older adults and companies Seasoned workers shouldn’t give up though, and there are a few strategies to get ahead of the stress associated with job hunting. The first step: Review and update your resume so you can easily send it along when need be. Make sure you’re including all of your skills and strengths, and if it’s been a while since you’ve used a certain skill or worked with a specific program—but it’s a key element of the type of job you want—re-familiarize yourself with it. If it’s a program, find the updated version, or look for similar ones you could test out. Have your resume reflected in a LinkedIn profile. Also be sure to emphasize your experience and bring attention to your accomplishments, Roszkowski said. Also see: What’s behind the older worker paradox? Some jobs may cater to experienced workers, while others could be at companies that want to hire older workers. AARP has a job board, which includes employers in the organization’s Employer Pledge Program. The program consists of companies dedicated to hiring workers age 50 and older. There are also programs outside the organization that focus on multigenerational workplaces, and companies that outwardly appreciate older workers. Another task: Keep up with your network. Catch up with former colleagues or schoolmates, friends and family and look on LinkedIn for people who may be able to help you (and who you may be able to help in return). The benefit of having a longer career than some other job seekers is that you have years’ worth of bosses and coworkers with whom you can connect. And finally, stay positive. Being optimistic when worried about mass layoffs or a worsening economic environment can be challenging, but staying focused on the end goal can make a huge difference. Don’t lose focus on your current position either. The idea of losing your job could be nerve-racking, and you may want to look for a new job to lessen the blow of losing your current one, but make the most of it while you’re still employed—you may not need to look for a new job after all.