Ask Stacy — How Do I Find Work When I’m Over 50?

When you're past your prime, finding work can be frustrating. But you can reinvent yourself. I know because I've done it.

Settle for less, at first

Go easy on salary negotiations and aim for performance-based bonuses rather than a higher base pay. Bailey said, “Consider what they’re offering with the caveat to renegotiate after six months,” once you’ve proved you deserve more.

Focus on getting your foot in the door. If you sense that the employer is wavering because of money, explain you’re flexible and just want to prove yourself — and that they’ll spend less time and money training you than someone younger.

If you’re looking to change fields, you might even consider an internship. They’re not just for college kids anymore.

Prove you’re a good fit

Any decent job candidate has to show they can adapt to the culture and be a team player. For older workers, this might mean persuading a younger boss you’re not out for his job.

Ever worked for a startup or some other company with a younger culture? Mentioning that might help. If not, make it clear in the interview you’re not there to challenge authority, and don’t imply that you can teach junior a lot of life lessons.

Update and trim your resume

Here’s AARP’s resume advice, which includes some samples in different styles. But however you choose to organize your work history, don’t include it all, only go back 10 to 15 years.

No matter how much experience you have, employers probably won’t skim through more than two pages. The exception is if they specifically ask for a full rundown, such as in academia, where you probably need a curriculum vitae.

Also, be careful with your language. Some terms and phrases that were common and accepted the last time you had to look for work may have become cliches. Try looking at the resume of a younger professional (but not a new college grad’s, because they’re terrible) for guidance.

In short, think young, act mature. Most of the qualities that may make you seem vulnerable can actually give you the edge when presented properly. And, of course, some job advice is useful no matter what your age: Check out “Job Interviewing: 8 Things to Do and 8 Things to Avoid” and “5 Tips for Writing a Terrific Cover Letter” for more.

Don’t forget the unconventional

There are so many new ways to make money these days, it’s hard to count them all. If you can’t make money the old-fashioned way by filling out applications and working for someone else, maybe it’s time to try working for yourself. A few ideas:

  • Retail arbitrage: This is simply buying something from one place and selling it at another. As with many new ways to make money, it’s all about the internet. Check out “The Secrets of Buying and Selling for Profit.”
  • Teaching: You’ve been around the block a time or two, so by definition you’ve learned something that may have value to others. Services like Udemy allow you to earn money by instructing via webcam. What will you teach? Literally anything from accounting to baking to woodworking.
  • Consulting: Whether it’s washing cars or programming computers, when you’ve done something for a long time, you know things others don’t. You can sell that knowledge and experience by being a consultant. Use the internet to research the competition, then reach out to your contacts and network your way into some gigs. Sites like LinkedIn can also help you connect with prospects.
  • Work at home: Check out “10 High-Paying Part-Time Telecommuting Jobs,” “Top 25 Companies for Work-From-Home Jobs” or any number of other articles.
  • Other ideas: This website is full of ideas to make money; everything from making a few bucks on the side to launching a new career. Check out our “Make” section for dozens of ideas.

Bottom line? One of the reasons it’s hard for older workers to get a job is because the world has changed. So change with it.

I’ve made my primary living in television news for more than 25 years. During the Great Recession, my income began to drop radically, and I knew it wasn’t coming back. After floundering a bit, I saw what was right in front of me and started placing more emphasis on the web. The transition was painful — I lived primarily off my savings for a year or two — and it’s still ongoing. But today, while I still do TV, the web brings me 60 percent of my income.

If I can reinvent myself, so can David. And so can you.

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More


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