Job seekers

Chris Farrell: Even in a tight job market, late-career job seekers need an extra helping hand

The labor market remains remarkably good.

The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in half a century and employees are negotiating offers for new, better paying jobs. The Labor Department reports job postings and the number of times workers quit hit the highest levels on record in March.

“The labor market is still a market of job seekers,” writes Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Something dramatic will have to happen for that to change anytime soon.”

If you’re thinking of changing jobs or careers, there’s every reason to move now. This is especially true for experienced workers looking for new challenges. If that’s you, to help craft your action plan, pick up a copy of Kerry Hannon’s new book, “In Control at 50+: How to Succeed in the New World of Work.”

The desire to change jobs of many experienced workers partly reflects the strength of the labor market. Perhaps more important are the lessons learned from the harsh pandemic years.

“This unprecedented time has made us think hard about our priorities, especially when there are more yesterdays than tomorrows ahead,” Hannon writes. “Experience has taught us lessons about what we value, what sustains us and what it feels like to lose it.”

These ideas include our work. Hannon sets the scene by highlighting work trends that have accelerated during the pandemic.

These are: The increase in remote working; the increase in contract work; more middle-aged entrepreneurs; drive for careers yet; and the importance of additional learning and training with age.

Most of the book focuses on tips for determining what comes next and how to land your desired position.

Hannon is lucid about employer ageism and the barrier it poses to older job seekers, especially women and minorities. Always realistic and optimistic, Kerry offers sound advice for navigating the shoals of ageism while taking control of your professional life.

“In Control at 50+” is a knowledgeable and practical guide. But at the heart of his spirit is an underlying belief that anyone can find purpose at work.

“I know you hear this buzzword all the time, but the truth is, it gets to the heart of what you’re looking for in the workplace. Feeling joy in the work we do is important to our sense of worth and identity,” she writes. “It’s more important than the money you earn.”

Wise advice indeed.

Chris Farrell is a senior economics contributor to American Public Media’s “Marketplace” and a commentator for Minnesota Public Radio.