One topic popping up increasingly among many of my friends is early retirement. Sometimes it’s voluntary, thanks to generous buyout packages … but sometimes it’s the forced kind that comes about thanks to lousy circumstances at work.
Either scenario results in the same endgame: My friends are no longer employed.
Researchers at Boston College have coined the term “New Unemployables” to describe such people — those age 50 and older who are generally too young to retire, but perhaps too old to be rehired. And these New Unemployables are saddled with some disturbing statistics:
- Workers in their 50s are 20% less likely to be re-employed than workers 25-34, according to the Urban Institute.
- The average duration of unemployment for workers 55 to 64 was 11 months — that’s three months longer than the average of 25-to-36-year-olds, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
- Two-thirds of unemployed workers 55 and older have been searching for a job for more than a year, according to a survey by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Developement at Rutgers University.
- 23,000 age discrimination complaints were filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2012, up 20% from 2007.
Rather than just worry about what might be, though, here are some suggestions on staying ahead of the curve — just in case it comes at you faster than expected.
You don’t have to go back to school, but you do have to both keep existing skills sharp and work on expanding your skill set to the new challenges in your marketplace or work setting. Community colleges and trade schools across the country offer online classes, workshops, and forums — many at a low cost or even free — to provide training in new technologies across a wide spectrum of industries.
I am the last person who should be lecturing anyone about the need to improve computer skills … but if I can learn how to work with technology, anyone can. Understanding how to connect within that world will save you a lot of time, aggravation and trouble, sure. But more importantly, if you don’t know how to use a computer or navigate the Internet, you won’t even have a shot at a job at many workplaces.
Use Social Media
The big social media site to stay in touch with, employment-wise, is LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD). The site, which boasts more than 200 million users, allows you to post and update your resume online, search job openings and contact employers, and it even offers groups and discussion boards where you can stay current on your industry and get your name out there.
And, for all its detractors on the professional front, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) can be a source of business contacts and information, too. Obviously, if you want to mix personal and professional, please review the site’s privacy settings and adjust accordingly. But otherwise, don’t be afraid to use the social network to connect with current and former colleagues and join business-focused groups.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.