I’ve noticed a brotherhood forming among boomers lately: the over-50-but-under-65-year-olds who have been hit by layoffs. These days applying for a job is a whole new game from the days of searching the Sunday paper for career listings. Now, more often than not, jobs are searched for through listings by agencies via the Internet. Most times we aren’t even sure what company is posting the job. There are standard forms asking at what salary we left our former jobs, but no place for us to say that we would work for less, as what we basically need is something to supplement savings or tide us over till we reach the age at which we originally intended to retire. We don’t often get to speak to a real person, our application going out into cyberspace, never to be heard from again.
Aside from the financial maneuvering that is required to reevaluate our future, we also have to deal with the emotional impact. Men and women alike are not only at an age where they begin to face their own mortality, but now they must also deal with what basically boils down to being told they are no longer wanted or needed. I’ve listened to friends whose identity was tied to their career, and who now find themselves looking for busywork to fill those long hours. Most of us were raised in an era when company loyalty meant something. Our fathers retired from the same place they began their careers. Now the days of the gold watch and retirement dinner are relics of days gone by.
One financial expert I spoke with said that corporations are doing well, but will likely not start hiring until the foreign markets are much more stable. In the meantime, they are piling more hours onto their already overburdened staff, while the “old timers” are sitting at home surfing the Internet for a glimmer of hope. What a crying shame that so much talent has been sidelined.