The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a disruption in work for many professionals, leading to a wave of early retirements. Some workers have opted to retire voluntarily, but others have unfortunately been forced into early retirement due to layoffs in the unstable economy. If you’re of the latter group but you’re not quite ready for early retirement, you may be dreading the thought of job hunting so late in your career.
Getting back into the workforce late in your career can be challenging, and facing lost income in the crucial years before retirement can be financially devastating. These circumstances are stressful, but there are ways to navigate the challenges that come with a late-career job hunt to keep your financial goals intact.
Here's how job seekers can approach a new career journey even if they are close to retirement.
1. Don’t be afraid to move
Over 15.9 million people moved during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you work in a field that has gone virtual and could remain that way, you don’t necessarily have to be tied to one area of the country for work. Knowing this, you could consider moving to an area with a decreased cost of living, which could allow you to save more during your job search or make you more comfortable with taking a pay cut if necessary.
Moving could also provide another advantage if your qualifications would be impressive to an employer in a different region or if the job market in your current city is ultra competitive.
If you need to relocate for a specific job offer but moving costs are a concern, consider requesting relocation expenses as part of your new hire package. On the other hand, if you don’t have a job locked down yet, you could use a personal loan to cover your moving expenses.
With personal loans, your interest rate is typically determined by your credit score. A “fair” credit score, which is usually between 640 and 679, might get you an average 22.16% APR, whereas an “excellent” credit score, which is above 760, equates to an average 9.30% APR.
2. Learn new skills
As a late-career professional, you likely have a wealth of knowledge and experience to build on. While you should absolutely be leveraging the expertise you’ve worked hard to develop, it’s also important that you emphasize your ability to continue to learn new skills.
LinkedIn data from global professionals showed 59% of leaders prioritized upskilling and reskilling. Gaining more professional knowledge doesn’t have to come at a huge expense. You can learn for free by taking online courses, exploring new skills in volunteer work, or even launching your own side gig or business that requires you to practice what you’re learning.
Consider adding a skills section to the top of your resume that highlights the top skills you’ve developed recently, and don’t shy away from emphasizing them in your interviews. Upskilling is an admirable pursuit, and in the process of improving your skills, you might also uncover networking opportunities that could lead to your next job.
Remember to remain flexible as you search for a job — especially when it comes to a potential role’s daily duties and your starting salary. After all, that new role could help you develop new skills or
3. Continue investing
Survey results show that 42% of Americans believe the money myth that you shouldn’t invest until you’ve paid all your debt. As you navigate a late-career job hunt, you might be wondering whether you should stop saving for retirement until you get a new job and repay any existing debt.
If you still have some income, it’s smart to continue investing for your retirement even if you aren’t doing so at the rate you previously were. This is true even if you are in the midst of repaying some debt like your mortgage or Parent PLUS student loans. The exception to this is if you don’t have an emergency fund in place.
4. Use your network
Applying for jobs online can be soul-crushing, and it’s especially hard to get to the top of the virtual resume pile if your resume isn’t formatted perfectly for the automatic software many companies use to filter out their first round of candidates. That’s why it’s essential to lean on your network when looking for a new job — at any age.
Consider former co-workers who have moved on to other jobs in addition to people you have met through your community. Don’t be afraid to ask for informational interviews from contacts to get a feel for what companies are looking for in current candidates and how you can upskill or reskill to meet these needs. Also, don’t be afraid to connect with contacts who are younger than you. Chances are many of your younger former colleagues are in hiring positions and can help connect you to work in your field.
Searching for a new job close to retirement can be an incredibly stressful but unfortunate reality of the current economy — but don’t panic. Remaining flexible and persistent, above all, will help you nurture a mindset to confidently navigate the challenges of a late-career job hunt while keeping your finances intact.
Jolene Latimer has her master's in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California. She writes about personal finance, marketing and sports.
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