Is Losing Your Job at Age 60 a death sentence?

Graduating college students face hardships seeking employment. Losing your job age 60, the challenges seem life threatening.

I remember Willy Loman, the lead character in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, ended up losing his job in his late 50’s. A combination of lost dreams and distorted family ties made him go mad and commit suicide.

Being laid off from a business that needs to cut payroll due to financial difficulties may lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, even if it had no bearing on your work qualities. For those who have been at the same employer for most of their working career, there’s a feeling of dis-association. You’ve lost your sense of desk, your interaction with work acquaintances, senses of usefulness and belonging, work benefits, and your salary.

Older workers have salaries based on experience and duration. That loss can often never be regained. For all the apologies from human resources about your layoff, losing your job at age 60 can be life shattering. Under current unemployment benefits, your income may go from six-figure salaries down to about $20,000 a year. Depressed moods and outlooks aren’t unfounded. It’s difficult to have a positive outlook.

Looking for a job after being involuntarily let go from a position is difficult under any circumstances. In today’s economy, with a national unemployment rate remaining a stable 7 to 8 percent, a job search can be prolonged, and the effects can be even more pronounced on your body, mind and spirit.

You’ve been preparing for retirement and, if you had a good 401k plan, you’ve got a nice nest to live with. You can withdraw without penalty at age 59-1/2. If you were preparing to retire on Social Security, your benefits decline at lower ages and your benefits decline even more if you’re no longer contributing to your Social Security account. Finding a job helps build that account. Getting that job may be damned difficult.

Internet job sites are written with positive ideas in mind but many of these are aimed at ages 18 to about 45. There’s lots of help for preparing resumes and cover letters in books, pamphlets, free schools, and online.
Applying for a job is easier than ever if you’re internet savvy. LinkedIn, American Job Bank, and hundreds of other websites now have job listings. All those jobs allow applying online and make it very easy to download your resume and fill the form. If you’re internet savvy, finding job listings and filling applications are remarkably easy.

One problem that people over age 55 experience is experience itself. Actually, the length of experience is a factor. If you’ve been doing basically the same thing and doing it well for 25 or more years, you’d think that’s a positive attribute. For a human resource interviewer, you’ve been working at one place for more years than he or she might have been alive!

You’re contacted for the interview. You’ll notice many young people waiting. Your gray hair, body type, and possible impairment like a cane, may immediately downshift your chances at being attractive to the interviewer. It’s a body and a body language that is immediately unacceptable and something you may not be able to control.

Young interviewers may see you as a grandparent. That means your technical proficiencies are like their grandparents. The e-mail or phone invitation seemed very positive but the interview seems to become hostile. It’s possible that your older feature characteristics might be behind it but it won’t be evident. All employers, by law, must allow equal opportunity but they don’t have to clarify why you didn’t get offered the position. Behind the scenes, beneath the masks, bias, discrimination, and prejudice do exist. They just aren’t overt.

The truths prevail that average younger employees accept lower salaries, require less training, and can be pushed for longer work hours than older employees. Younger employees easily accept authority from bosses that are perceived as peers in age. It helps demonstrate incentives for growth opportunities.

Unemployed at age 60 or above may seem like purgatory. If you have a working spouse, you can still be eligible for insurance benefits but you need to learn to tighten your household budget. If you are single or don’t have a working spouse, it can be tortuous. Is losing your job at age 60 a death sentence?

Losing your job at age 60 means certain sacrifices that were not part of your original plans. You can still pursue jobs but realize that salary will be less and challenges may be higher. Those challenges may be stimulating. Can you work for a boss that’s half your age?

There are online opportunities available. You can create a blog. There are tens of thousands of blogs so your challenge is beating the odds. If you can write well, it isn’t enough. You need to adopt marketing skills. Google AdSense is one of many tools you can use to earn money from your website. You may or may not see earnings right away. If you work hard, you may be self-employed with your blog and your blog may last you through your retirement years.

People over age 60 have more health issues. Deferring them isn’t wise. What do you do if you haven’t any insurance? The US Government offers a comprehensive list of choices. United Healthcare is a very good health insurance that offer low-cost plans catering the unemployed.

While losing your job at age 60 may kill many plans and dreams, overcoming the downs and negatives that are very real and exploring previously unavailable possibilities may help you gain some of your lost self-esteem. It is hard feeling like a cow sent to be slaughtered. Humans can think and survive. With Social Security around the corner and adaptation skills, it may not be a death sentence after all. If you’re healthy, you can carve out new chapters and possibilities.

Cervantes’ Don Quixote said. “There’s a remedy for almost everything except death.” Remedies may be difficult to swallow. Losing your job at any age sucks. Losing your job at 60 or above seems worse. When the world seems to be saying, “Give up”, Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” Before there were roads, there was wilderness. You may be lost in the wilderness but you might find a road that you can travel.

Martha Washington is quoted as saying, “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” Losing your job at age 60 is by no means an enviable circumstance. If you can figure out how to market your experiences, you may endure with new definitions of pride and happiness.

Fortunately, there are many available resources to help find a job. Regaining employment over age 60 is very difficult. Your goal is to try to be positive and try to think out of the box. Unfortunately, those jobs within the box seem to be geared for younger workers. In a bad economy, each possibility requires strategic planning. There’s no overcoming that finding new work at 60 may requires herculean efforts. Losing your job at age 60 is a death sentence but one that is open to possibilities of reprieves.

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