Six Tips for Boomers Looking for Work
CNBC Senior Commodities Correspondent & Personal Finance Correspondent
If you're a Baby Boomer, the biggest challenge in looking for work may come with reimagining your career. You don't have to completely reinvent yourself, but you may have to adapt to a new environment — whether that means working in a new field, working for yourself, or moving to find a job.
The good news is that the jobless rate for Boomers is far less than for the overall population. Unemployment for people age 55 and older tapered off in October, as a higher-than-expected 171,000 jobs were added to the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationally, the unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent last month — but the jobless rate fell to 6.1 percent for men 55-plus in October and 5.5 percent for women 55-plus.
(Read more: Six Boomer Jobs to Ride the Age Wave)
That said, there are still 1.9 million people age 55 and older out of work. Executive recruiters say Boomers looking for work should keep these six points in mind:
- Be open to starting over. It is a lot tougher to change careers unless you are open to starting from scratch, including dropping salary down to a "starting-salary" level.
- Build off your fundamental skills. Focus on skills that are transferable from industry to industry. For example, it may be much easier to go from being a marketing professional at a bank to a marketing professional at a hospital than it is to go from being a banker to a nurse.
- Sell your experience. Emphasize to potential employers that you can hit the ground running, critical for companies that want people who can contribute immediately without a lot of training time and cost.
- Move to another area with a lower cost of living and greater job prospects. Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas are among the top 10 states in terms both low cost of living and job creation, according to CNBC's 2012 survey of America's Top States for Business. Many financial advisers say when you're out of work and facing a cash crunch, there is often nothing more powerful than relocating from a high-cost-of-living area to a low-cost one.
- Start your own business. Older workers have historically seen an advantage in forming businesses, but Baby Boomers have fared even better than younger entrepreneurs in recent years. The third quarter 2012 self-employment rate for adults age 55 was 18 percent; the overall self-employment rate for the third quarter 2012 was 10.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(Read more: Poll: Will You Change Careers as You Age?)
In starting a business, many Boomers may have an easier time leveraging their experience and may be more likely to accumulate capital or have access to credit. BLS data shows the majority of older workers with incorporated businesses are involved in higher-paying management and sales services. Nearly two-thirds of them have paid employees, compared to just over one-third of incorporated firms owned by entrepreneurs between the ages of 25 and 34 years old.
- Think about an "encore career." Pursue something different, but related, to your former employment, using similar skills or simply doing something you've always want to try. This includes staring your own business. Check out the career guide SecondAct.com, which provides information on job hunting, going back to school, finding internships, volunteering as well as salary calculators. Also try YourEncore.com, which connects retired professionals, including engineers and scientists, with companies for short-term projects.
Whether looking for a new job or starting a business, the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says these are some of the hottest industries for experienced workers: health care, energy, information technology, accounting, education, and financial planning.
— Sharon Epperson. Follow her @sharon_epperson