Welcome Back – Re-entering the Workforce After 50

So you took the last 10 years off to raise your kids, travel the world, provide respite for an aging parent, or who knows why? Now you are ready to re-enter the workforce.  I have two things to tell you: 1) WELCOME BACK! We need you! AND 2) Things have changed.

The world has changed, which means the workplace has changed.

The workplace you left was pre-Google (well, Google technically started in 1998, but it wasn’t mainstream until the early 2000s); pre-iPod/iPhone/iPad; pre-smartphone. The world you left stil used fax machines and typewriters.  How did we ever get along without these new-fangled devices? Oh, and that young woman who is your colleague (or perhaps your boss?) was in high school the last time you cashed a paycheck. Which, BTW, is another thing that has changed — you probably won’t be getting a paycheck or a pay stub. Your earnings will be deposited directly into your account at the bank and become available to you immediately. Checks are so last century!

Many things have changed . . . including you.

That’s right. YOU have changed too.

Remember when you were that young road-warrior able to jet-set across the country and around the globe at a moment’s notice? Well guess what.  Your physical body has changed, making those easy trips “not-so-easy.”  Your eyesight has shifted due to a stiffening of the lenses known as “Presbyopia”. (Remember when you could read a book on the plane without bifocals or “cheater glasses”?) You may also find that the airplane seats have also gotten smaller and less comfortable, that it takes longer to make up for a time change, and that you can’t run as fast or carry as much junk as you used to. My advice is to acknowledge it, embrace it, and plan ahead. Use the wisdom of your age as an advantage!

So much has changed, and yet NOTHING has really changed.

People still work with people they know, like and trust. Companies still have problems with too many layers of bureaucracy and are challenged to sell the right products to the right people at the right time in order to make a profit. There are still shareholders to please, office politics to navigate and “John/Jane the brown-noser” to make life . . . well . . . interesting. The water cooler hasn’t gone away, so you can still get all the dirt on your co-workers, catch up on the latest baseball scores, or find out what happened last night on Survivor. 80% of the people still let 20% of the people carry the weight. Life is unfair and bosses want more out of us than we can give. In a sense, nothing has really changed.

A wise man once said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Remember this as you re-enter the workforce. Many things have changed (including you) and many things have stayed the same. Be sure to allow yourself some time to re-acclimate to the new-old-unfamiliar-same climate. It may take a little while getting used to.

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