If you lose your job post 50, expect slim pickings and slimmer pay packets
I’m a strong advocate for professionals in their 40s and 50s designing their work in a particular way to increase their personal satisfaction and fulfilment.
But whether you are currently doing deeply fulfilling work or not, I bet you have seen colleagues of a similar age be “disappeared” from your business over the last year. By “disappeared” I mean it wasn’t their choice to leave.
In corporates, it’s usually done quickly and quietly so that the troops are not too scared. But it’s also usually done loudly enough so that everyone feels just a smidge of fear.
Every time this happened to someone in my company, it was hard not to wonder if, or rather when, it might be my turn to get (whisper) fired? Or (another whisper) sacked? Or made redundant (no shame here as redundancy is almost a sure bet for those in the 50+ age range, if they are not fired or sacked).
So, what’s the financial prognosis for your career if you lose your job post 50?
According to some new US research, I’m afraid it’s not rosy.
(Whilst the research is purely US-centric, it has relevance for most western countries.)
If you are over the age of 50, this new piece of analysis suggests that after you leave a company, you may never earn the same salary again. The analysis was based on *US raw social security data and the National Institute Health and Retirement study which involved over 20,000 people who had been in full-time employment for at least 5 years within one company when the study commenced and followed them over a many years.
The analysis concluded that when post-50 year olds exit a company, whether under circumstances of their choosing or not, their next roles very often involved lower levels of expertise alongside a significant drop in salary and benefits packages.
What to do?
We could take a big picture view and rise up against age discrimination in the courts, in our companies and in our lives. We could cling on for dear life, with our fingers crossed, hoping that we can buck the international trend.
Alternatively, and in my opinion more impactfully, we could take a smaller picture, personalised view and make sure that we have an alternative plan - a Plan B - before we need it.
In our 40s and 50s, while we are enjoying the corporate salary and package, we need to take some time to personalise our career plan. To design one that will last for much longer than our company decides to employ us. One that will offer us some light at the end of our tunnel of narrowing career options within corporates.
If we focus as early as we can on designing this very personal plan, twisting and turning it, trialling it and then analysing the results from our experiments, we can refine it to the point where it evolves into our PLAN A – when the time is right for us.
If you like the sound of that but aren’t sure how to go about it, why not download my Where to Start guide for the first 10 steps to designing work that might fit you – for a very long time. It’s not a magic bullet but it covers the initial practical steps that you need to have covered, before you can embark on creating your exciting Plan B.
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*Data mentioned here was sourced from the US Social Security Administration and National Institute on Aging’s joint longitudinal Health & Retirement Study via an analysis by joint Urban Institute-ProPublica project.