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Older and Facing a Layoff – Or in the Middle of One?

If you’re on the sunny side of 30, you might not see “older and facing a layoff” as relevant to your career and your future, but believe me, it is!

The future arrives much sooner than you expect when you’re younger. As you mature, the pace seems to pick up, and this has a direct bearing in many cases on your experience in the world of work. For example, if you’ve built a solid, progressive career culminating in a senior-management or executive position, that could give you at least some leverage others don’t have; however, it’s definitely no guarantee of job security or, to put it another way, job safety.

Job Layoffs Not New But Still Challenging

Of course, layoffs have been a fact of work-life for decades, but that doesn’t make them less stressful to contemplate or to deal with when they hit too close to home for older employees.

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That’s one of the reasons there’s been a huge increase in age discrimination lawsuits in recent years, as indicated in an article titled, “Did HP discriminate against older workers in massive layoffs?

Of course, HP disputes the charges in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit against it, and it’s hard to tell who’s “right,” but the article points out that HP isn’t the only big company that has had massive layoffs in recent years and says: “In some cases, the cuts target highly paid workers, who tend to be older, in order to replace them with younger and thus cheaper employees….The tactic of cutting employees to boost profits has become increasingly common.”

How to Handle a Layoff

A white life preserver with the words Feel Adrift, symbolizing feelings of being lost, confused, aimless, hopeless or directionless, and a buoy that can rescue you and offer helpI can’t give you a glib, off-the-cuff answer to the dilemma you face if you’re older and a layoff is looming or one has already disrupted—maybe even flatlined—your career. I do believe it’s wise, though, to carefully review methods and tools you might have used successfully in the past to rebound from a career disruption and determine which of them are still viable today. Likely candidates for the short list could be:

  • Active networking—online and offline; still #1 in my book for overall effectiveness, if done right.
  • Refreshment (updating, etc.) of your job search marketing tools (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, interview skills, and more). You need to present yourself as being on top of current developments in the employment arena.
  • Research on companies and industries that are experiencing healthy growth and could need skills you might have that your younger and therefore less-experienced competitors don’t—or at least not as much.
  • Possible segue into self-employment, if investigation suggests you have a good answer to a growing need in the marketplace and the resources required to launch a business successfully.

Help Others Cope with Layoffs

Helping hand with the black backgroundOne final thought: If you’ve been fortunate enough in the past to be on the receiving end of a helping hand in your career, remember the movie, “Pay It Forward.” If you extend a similar outreach to someone who is struggling with the “older and facing a layoff” challenge, even if you yourself aren’t, it could pay dividends you didn’t expect.

P.S. While I don’t have a canned, one-size-fits-all solution for you, I do offer job search and career management services that could help. If you’d like to find out more, send me an email or schedule a call to talk about the situation and what you can do to improve your odds.

[Note: Adapted from original article published in “On Target” ezine, Nov.-Dec. 2016 issue.]

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