AARP Eye Center
Midlife is often when career dreams are coming true. It's often a worker's peak earning period — a time when all of that hard work has paid off. But it can also be the time when ageism rears its ugly head. An online survey conducted by AARP Research in late 2020 found that 61 percent of respondents (people age 40 to 65) thought age bias may contribute to them losing their jobs this year.
But there are some things you can do to keep yourself marketable and accelerate your career as you get closer to preparing for retirement — whatever that looks like for you. Try these 10 moves.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
1. Shift to a consultant mindset
Workers of all ages can bolster their job security by always adding value and finding solutions, says executive and career transition coach John Tarnoff, founder of Reinvention Group LLC and author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. And that's also the way consultants think.
"You always want to be thinking of your job from the point of view of a consultant providing value to a client, versus being an employee, working under the direction of a supervisor,” he says. “It's a really key paradigm shift. That is difficult to make for people who have been employed for most of their career.”
While making that shift to a consultant mindset can be tricky at first, midcareer workers have years of experience and knowledge to rely on. By constantly adding value, you can become a more crucial asset, he says.
2. Never stop upskilling
New technologies, automation, and other innovations are changing jobs at a rapid clip. The World Economic Forum estimates that half of jobs will be changed by automation over the next decade. And it's essential for employees to keep up with new technologies and practices to remain marketable, says executive coach Bonnie Marcus, author of Not Done Yet! How Women Over 50 Regain Their Confidence and Claim Workplace Power.
"It's important to be proactive — not only to make sure you're current, but to research what some of the future trends are and be ahead of the game,” she says. Look to industry groups, seminars and publications to get a sense of what's to come. LinkedIn Learning and edX offer free courses in everything from coding and computer science to teamwork and strategic thinking.
3. Give your LinkedIn profile a makeover
Even if you dislike social media, LinkedIn is an essential part of job hunting and networking, says Wendy Braitman, senior transition coach with Randstad RiseSmart.
"I understand that people have aversion to social media. And when I have those kinds of conversations with my clients, I encourage them to get over it,” she says. From recruiters to hiring managers, LinkedIn is a primary tool of career decision makers. You can make new networking connections, find former colleagues and classmates, and help people find you for offers and connection, she says.
Be sure to add a photo, write about your successes in your summary, and ensure that your LinkedIn profile dates and job titles match your resume, she says.
4. Focus on your network
When you're new to your job and trying to make your way forward, networking is a priority. However, as job responsibilities increase and time is scarcer, you may have neglected to nurture your network, Tarnoff says.
Devote some time each week to reaching out to contacts and reconnecting with former colleagues. Having a strong network can help you perform better in your current role and also ensure that you have access to up-to-date information and resources about your industry when you need it, he adds.