Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tips for middle-aged job seekers

Numerous middle-aged workers have found themselves unexpectedly back in the job-search mode, which is financially and personally challenging for many workers who've spent a decade or longer in the same career.

One 53-year-old Torrance resident who was terminated in November took time to "recover psychologically, catch up on some leisure reading, and fix everything that was broken in the house." He is now ready to tackle the next stage.

As a manufacturing sales professional, he developed many business and administrative skills. He asks how he should approach a new-career search? His finances are a year's severance pay, and approximately $450,000 in retirement savings, and a home-mortgage balance of $118,000. His health coverage is now through COBRA but must soon be replaced.

It's still very tough looking for work. However, as worker demographics change, so are employer expectations. By 2016, a third of the American work force will be age 50-plus, compared with 28 percent in 2007. Demand for mature, experienced employees is expected to increase, especially in industries like health care.

The Torrance reader should tackle financial issues first, then focus on the searches. He should consult with a fee-only financial advisor to decide when - or if - he should move his 401(k). Internal costs and investment options are also vital considerations.

He also should research health insurance options, looking into plans available through trade/professional associations and individual policies. He'll possibly obtain coverage with a new job.

It's also advisable to get the "health house" in order to the extent possible by getting fit and losing weight, if needed, as it's well known that healthy employees cost employers less in the short and long run.

Numerous resources may help boomers conduct a targeted career search. Following are a few:

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, at http://www.bls.gov/OCO/. It lists leading occupations providing current information on hiring forecasts and salaries.

U.S. News & World Report, at www.usnews.com, runs an annual list of hit jobs and popular (and promising) occupations for boomer workers.

AARP, at www.aarp.org, provides a wealth of resources on jobs, careers and retirement planning for the over-50 population.

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