Older workers can be at a greater risk of for losing a job for any number of reasons — from personal health crises or family caregiving obligations to ageism or trouble keeping up with an evolving workforce. Unfortunately, older workers can also have the toughest time reintegrating into the workforce after a job loss, even though they often really need these crucial final income-producing years before retirement.
While it might not be easy to land a new job when you’re over 50, or even launch an entire new career, it’s far from impossible. We tapped professional career coaches for their expert advice and asked them what books they would recommend as resources for 50-something workers looking to hop back in the saddle again.
“People in the 50-plus crowd often are less comfortable—and less trained—in the social media strategies that make or break today’s networking,” says Kathryn A. Sollmann, author of Ambition Redefined: Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Every Woman & What to Do Instead. Sollman recommends Reach Out, from the digital marketing whiz Molly Beck, because she is the perfect wingwoman for anyone trying to venture into online and social media professional networking — worlds that seem to come more naturally for the younger, digital-first generation.
“There’s a lot to be learned from tech-savvy millennials,” says Sollman.
Senior-level employees who find themselves suddenly out of a job can feel unmoored and unsure of themselves. That’s where Managing Transitions comes in, says Ngoc Nguyen, a career coach at Ama La Vida.
“This book talks about transitions — the psychological process — individuals go through during a change,” Nguyen says. Author William Bridges breaks down each step of the shift so you can use that knowledge to move forward after a setback. “The book provides insights into letting go of who we were, making the most of what we have today, and then being emotionally committed to our new identity,” Nguyen says
Tom Carignan, Managing Director at CBIZ Talent & Compensation Solutions, says that Build Your Dream Network is full of practical and easy-to-follow steps to enhancing your digital footprint in the professional world. “For any mid-career professional who wants to stay relevant or has a challenge, this book is a must read,” says Carignan.
“For me, what I found most impactful was the author’s way of laying out how every challenge can be met with the right network and tactics. Sounds simple, but Kelly lays it out quite nicely,” he says. Carignan adds that the book walks you through how to be strategic about how you approach in-person networking at events like conferences and industry functions.
“Whether you are a new college graduate or a senior executive, the key to finding a new job is networking,” Sollman says.
But when you’re well-established in your career and your identity is really tied to that profession, a job loss can have a truly devastating effect on your self-esteem. “The first thing that falls through a gap in a resume is confidence. This book is the key to standing tall,” Sollman says.
“While not a traditional book on career change, this is one I recommend to clients often,” says career coach Elana Konstant of Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown.
A late-career layoff can be so jarring because it shakes at people’s confidence in their relevance as well as their skills. Established professionals have often developed great networks over the course of their careers, but they are sometimes reluctant to ask for help — which is just what you often need to find a new job.
“The best advantage job seekers over 50 have is their network,” Konstant says. But “people shy away from asking for help, especially those who are used to great success. Working through these barriers and strategically connecting with others is the surest way to transition into your next great role.” Daring Greatly offers a road map for how to make that work for you.
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