Don’t Fall for the Damaging Myths and Misinformation about “Older Workers”

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According to a New York Times story on August 18, 2016, “Can Older Workers Find New Career Directions?” the rules of the job market aren’t the same for older workers. The article cited a recently released research study by Matthew Rutledge, an economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which conducted an analysis of 1996 – 2012 hiring patterns. The Times claimed that the study’s conclusions were that older workers (55-64) were being increasingly funneled into “old-person” jobs that were poorly compensated. They defined “old-person” jobs as a mix of high-skilled service work (like managers, sales supervisors and accountants) and low-skilled service work (like truck drivers, janitors and nursing aides).

BUT, the research study the article based its conclusions on and my own experience with clients in that age bracket soundly refute this contention. Especially for college grads, the evidence is much more positive.

When you read the actual research study, it turns out that the outlook for older workers is better than it used to be, especially for well-educated women. Once the researchers adjusted for differences in physical skills and numerical ability, “old-person” jobs paid the same as those jobs for older and prime age workers combined.

From my experience with 40-65 year old mid-career transitioners, the future looks much brighter when they: recognize their entire skill and accomplishment base, are willing to learn some new things and are flexible about considering alternatives. In fact, my recent blog, Feeling Confused about Your Career Direction? highlights the opportunities and challenges for older workers.

My take-away? When you look more closely into the original research, you find a good deal more hope than the popular press would have you believe. At the least, if you’re thinking about a career transition, it’s certainly worth exploring some good alternatives. If you would like assistance in starting this journey, please contact us at 21st Century Career for a complimentary Discovery Session and to subscribe to our e-newsletter.