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The Tree Rings – Aging In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 26, 2012 in Career Path, Job Search

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Dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, is a method of dating based on analysis of the patterns of tree-rings. Not only can the age of trees be determined, but other variables can be inferred from tree rings such as past climates. The older the tree, the more knowledge can be gleaned from their unique patterns.

I get a lot of questions from people who are in their fifties needing advice about job search, career change, and what types of jobs are good for people over 50.  We wrote about why companies might want to hire people with more experience rather than less in the past but my husband read a recent article from the Washington Post and that, combined with the 60 Minutes tribute to Mike Wallace, shed new light on this subject for me. 

Did you know Mike Wallace didn’t even start with 60 Minutes until he was over 50?  For 37 years he was a trailblazer of news magazine programming and had an amazing career there, whether you agreed with his style and conclusions or not.  He is a shining example of how to take your experience in a new direction rather than retiring in the traditional way as you approach this part of your life.

Many people who are looking for work later in their careers have become accustomed to traditional employee/employer relationships because that is what they have always had.  Long gone are the days of our parents and grandparents when they were able to retire with a solid pension and live a relatively stress free retirement.   

Becoming a consultant in your field is an excellent opportunity for people faced with unexpected job change at latter stages of their careers. Now is the time where their expertise can lend itself quite nicely to assisting others with their own learning and growth paths while continuing to grow their own rings of experience.

Many start ups are seeking part time CFOs and COOs to help them grow, and local chapters of The Service Core of Retired Executives ( can help.  I have seen many volunteers get snapped up into part time positions, in some cases full time roles, because they made a substantive connection with someone they met through SCORE who found value in their expertise.

Executive coaching is a great business as well but it does require certification to be held in professional regard.  If you are in the DC area and might want to learn more about coaching, the Capital Coaches Conference is an all day event Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at George Mason University and the speaker lineup is impressive.  Before you make the investment and commitment to becoming a certified coach, a one day conference like this is a great way to get introduced and meet many successful people in the industry. 

Remember, full time employment can come in the form of a couple of part time jobs combined.  If health insurance is a concern, consult your accountant about forming an LLC and an insurance broker can help you navigate what plan you need to accommodate your lifestyle.  A coaching client of mine (who is over 50) recently consulted with Business Benefits Group and uncovered a significant savings setting up a plan for himself rather than opting into his cobra coverage. 

So, while I might need a little more Advil to get past my morning aches and pains than I used to, knowing that I can take charge of my own career and find new opportunities to utilize my years of experience helping those with less gives me some relief.

Additional substantive articles on finding work over 50:

In case you missed the Mike Wallace segment, here is the link.

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