Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

MIDLIFE JOB SEARCH: Managing Long Term Unemployment

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

MIDLIFE JOB SEARCH: Managing Long Term Unemployment

Article excerpt

Abstract

Finding a job in today's high unemployment environment is challenging, especially for midlife job seekers. While the principles of traditional career searches remain valid, mid-lifers may need some adjustments to accommodate today's conditions. Four factors should be taken into consideration during the job search: Seekers must address the implications of a protracted job search very early in the job search process; Job seekers must evaluate and make decisions about the importance of seeking meaningful work and their need for income; Job seekers must address the emotional toll of the job search process and the impact on their family; and, once new employment is secured, individuals can benefit from understanding the implications of transitioning back to employment and developing strategies for confronting them. This article presents a perspective on proactively addressing the job search length, following one's passion vs. need for income, using techniques from positive psychology and engaging in positive thinking, and adopting a realistic perspective about applying one's skills in a new environment.

Finding a job in today's high unemployment environment is challenging, especially for midlife job seekers. Although their former jobs may be gone, their professional aspirations, financial obligations and desire to engage in meaningful work are not. This has resulted in a number of challenges for midlife job seekers, not the least of which is the arduous and lengthy job search. A recent Wall Street Journal article (Lahart 2010) cited the example of an individual who lost her job, received career counseling, and acquired additional skills. The individual stated "I did everything right and it still took me 14 months." Indeed, interviews with several career counselors indicate that it taking longer to find new jobs, as much as twice as long as it did a few years ago.

What does this mean for the unemployed midlife adult? While the principles of traditional career searches remain valid, they may need some adjustments to accommodate today's conditions. Specifically, in this changed job search environment mid- life job seekers can benefit from considering four factors. With the extended time to find a job, seekers must address the implications of a protracted job search very early in the job search process. While a job loss provides an opportunity to explore new passions, abilities and experiences, midlife job seekers may feel conflicted about following their heart vs. filling their wallet, that is, balancing the desire for meaningful work and their need for income.

An extended job search extracts a significant emotional toll on job seekers and their families. Addressing the emotional upheaval, frustrations and job search weariness can support the job search process. Finally, while landing a new job results in many positive emotions, those who have been unemployed for an extended period of time may also experience some deeper anxieties beyond the normal "new job jitters". These employees can benefit from understanding the implications of transitioning back to employment and developing strategies for confronting them.

Preparing for a Potentially Lengthy Job Search

"I had no idea how long it would take me to find a new job. I have been out of work for over a year. I was fortunate to receive severance but have used it up and have dipped deeply into my savings. If I had known it would take this long I would have encouraged my wife to start looking for a job the day I lost mine and would have cut household expenses earlier than I did. " - 57 year old former accounting manager and out of work for 14 months

In today's tough job search environment it is important to address the ramifications of the job search length early in the search process. Newly laid off employees need to get a realistic picture of their financial situation and include early involvement with others who depend on their income. …

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