Career mismanagement – when you’re over 55

Career mismanagement – when you’re over 55

I have run into a number of individuals that lose their jobs over the age of 55. Sometimes they are cut-off before they can get the maximum pension from their employers. These are difficult situations even for the very skilled, as employers are reluctant to hire individuals over the age of 55 (sometimes even younger).

Serious career mismanagement

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I’m the most familiar with the issues that face professional accountants. The individual concerned worked for a company for many years. Then for unknown reasons, they are terminated at age 55. What many will do is look for another job.

Getting a job at that point in your life is problematic for your employer. They will feel that you need to be trained for your position, and costs will be incurred. By the time that you get comfortable with the job and are starting to add value to the company, the employee will be getting close to age 60. Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of companies where you will see 70-year-old employees wandering around. It’s just not that common regardless of gender. So your “useful life” is pretty short. I wouldn’t call this age discrimination, it’s  just being practical.

In the case of a professional accountant, there are choices that you can make. I was in a similar situation and began to look for “per diem” work. Many accounting firms will hire professional staff on that basis. Your contract is a day to day one. If there is work that needs to be done, then you do it and get paid by the day. Many of these arrangements become ongoing ones as it is a “win-win” for the firm and the accountant.  The firm has “on demand” staff available without the cost of employee benefits. The accountant can enter into this kind of arrangement with more than one firm of they choose to do so. Long term relationships can be built. Hourly rates are often higher than for competing jobs. If you are working for more than one firm you spread the risk of losing all your work at one time. And if you get really good at it, finding new firms to work with becomes easier.

Avoiding the inevitable

Finance and accounting professionals who find themselves in these situations cannot avoid the inevitable. If you need the money and you make the short-term decision to find a job and even find a job, you’re going to have to face the music at some point. There is no escaping it.

These kinds of career management decisions are difficult. But as the expression goes “you can pay me now or you can pay me later, but you’re going to pay me.”

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