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Workforce Reductions For Older Workers On The Rise

As a leadership and career coach, I work with the individuals going through a career transition. My clients range from an entry-level employee to an executive leader. The transition can mean looking for a job after a loss of employment, desire to switch the field of work after obtaining an advanced degree, even at the later career stage, belief in being ready for a promotion or deserving a higher pay.

Although the statistics show us that this is a job seeker's favorable market, we recently learned that companies like GM are "cutting more than 6,300 hourly and salaried workers at its plants and 15 percent of the salaried workers in North America for a total of more than 14,000" – (Source: Bloomberg News). Morgan Stanley predicted that Ford Motor Co. would cut 25,000 jobs in the $11 billion restructuring efforts (Source: Bloomberg). “Earlier this year, FedEx Corp. was giving out raises and bonuses to its hourly workers. Now it’s looking to eliminate thousands of U.S. jobs.” (Source: Wall Street Journal).

Are Experienced Workers at Higher Risk of Being Laid Off From Work?

In the last year, I saw an increase of people who are 50 and older seeking assistance with updating their resumes and redefining their job search strategies. “Nearly eight million older Americans are out of work or stuck in low-quality jobs, denying them a crucial time to accumulate savings.” - WSJ reports.

In most instances, the older workers seek career changes due to unexpected workforce reductions. I’ve encountered just a few cases where people were looking to fulfill their dreams and to become business owners or consultants before they got laid off. Some workers are also looking to switch their career field due to burn out or an anticipated job loss, so they obtain a higher degree.

One of my clients said, "I got laid off. I joined the company over 27 years ago. I never had to worry about the resume or searching for the outside jobs. I posted my resume online but I am not hearing back from recruiters. It's been six months and nothing is moving ahead. I was a “go-to” employee”. It is frustrating and stressful!" Prior to hiring me, like many other job seekers, he used free online templates to craft his executive leadership collateral to search for work to no avail.

Another seasoned worker shared with me that after over 39 years with the same firm he was workforce reduced. An experienced leader whom I coached to get a new position was also laid off after 24 years with the same company. Unfortunately, he had to take a significant pay cut when taking on a new role.

More seasoned workers are being replaced with younger and "less expensive" workforce and automation. Now is more important than ever to develop a unique approach to your career development and job search. I believe that the older workers will continue being forced to take pay cuts when looking for new jobs after a layoff.

Most employees from the Baby Boomers Generation have a superb work ethic which translates into being dedicated and, in some cases, married to their jobs for years. They are busy going above and beyond their duties. That is great, BUT…they forget to build a professional network outside of their line of duty.

One of my clients, who was 64 at the time, applied for a job at the company where he worked for over 32 years. He wanted to switch his career from business development leadership to operations. Although he was one of the top two candidates, a less experienced purchasing manager was selected for that position. My client was disappointed and convinced this was more about senior management wanting him to continue leading the business development effort in the division he started from scratch. When suggesting the ways to look for the jobs outside his company, including networking with professionals on LinkedIn, he admitted that almost all of his network was in the same field that he wanted to leave.

Strategies to Stay Relevant On the Job Market

  • Network with like-minded people while you still have job. Don’t let “busy” job with your current employer distract you from building relationships outside of your place of work.

  • Keep your resume updated. Nobody is guaranteed a job forever. Not anymore.

  • Prepare for the unexpected. It will be more difficult to remember your qualifiable and quantifiable achievements five or ten years later. Use the most up-to-date methods and formats when developing your resume and LinkedIn profile. Make it unique! There are plenty of free resources that can help you with the creation of your professional marketing collateral. If they don’t help, hire a professional.

  • Keep in mind that many online "free resources" offer old-fashioned advice and give you generic resume templates. These templates might work well for a high schooler looking for an entry-level job, but employers who are searching for leaders or specialists want to see achievements, not the job descriptions copied on resumes.

  • Stay current with the technological advances and trends. Learn the latest applications and methodologies and get applicable certifications where possible.

  • If you are in a leadership role, ensure to attend conferences and training courses to stay up-to-date with the latest ideas and development. Understand other generations’ preferences in the workplace.

  • Develop a robust LinkedIn profile and stay active as a member while you are still employed.

  • Join professional associations and groups.

  • Volunteer and share your expertise. Mentor!

Staying Relevant is Key to Minimize Risks of Being Workforce Reduced

I suspect that those professionals who choose to stay relevant and up-to-date with the latest skills will have less risk in losing jobs, but the employers will always be looking for an experienced but less expensive workforce. Ageism is illegal, but it is alive and thriving (Sadly)! We live and work longer. The more people, the bigger competition. Artificial Intelligence is taking over many jobs. Every age worker has to develop a competitive advantage in the fight for diminishing resources, including jobs.

The bottom line is, we can't expect to work for the same company until the day we retire! Not anymore, as those days are gone. Always be prepared for a change. Reacting to an unexpected workforce reduction is extremely challenging for someone who hasn't been available to seek new job opportunities in ages.

About the Author: Alex Aberle is the President and Founder of XCaliber Coaching & Consulting LLC, a leadership and career development coaching firm. As a Certified Professional and Executive Coach with over 20 years of global experience in leadership and career development, she is on a mission to build a better world of leadership. She is an author of Guide to a Successful Career Transition. Alex helps currents and aspiring leaders to calibrate existing skills, expand knowledge, and innovate approaches to effective performance. She worked with the clients employed by Anthem, Inc., Macy’s, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, YPO, Cisco, BT, Xerox, Interstate Hotels, GE, and others. Contact her at or visit a website

resources, including jobs.

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