How do you know when it’s time to move on?

You did outstanding work this year. Perhaps you received accolades or a bonus for your performance last year, and now you have been declared surplus.

It can be a shattering experience because you weren’t thrown from the horse, they pulled you off and put on a new jockey.

What’s your next step?

A few years ago, the answer would have been simple: Get your resume out and start interviewing. That is not necessarily appropriate today. If you are older than 45, I have some questions which can shed some light on your chances for getting a job similar to your old one.

1. Have you interviewed for a job in the last three years?
2. Are you talking seriously with anyone about moving to another company?
3. Has a headhunter called you in the last two years?

If the answer to all three of these questions is no, you should seriously consider moving on to other opportunities. You best chance of using your skills to make a living is to go into business for yourself.

Before you launch an extensive job-hunting campaign, you need to read this Fortune article, 50 and Fired, by By John Helyar.

It comes to the same conclusion I reached in Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day, but the case histories really drive it home. "Your W-2 days are over. It’s a 1099 world now."

The future is not all bleak, but you can’t wait for the hiring pendulum to swing back to embrace older workers. Older workers will eventually be in demand, but it will be several years before the tide turns and you need to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. If you refashion yourself as an independent consultant, a shop owner, an ebay trader, a franchise holder, you will be able to weather the next few years and control your own destiny.

The 50 and Fired article has this to say about the future for older workers:

The U.S. economy, amazingly adaptable organism that it is, will eventually figure out a sustainable way to exploit the talent and experience of older workers. …Why? Because companies are staring at a major problem: There aren’t enough people in the baby-bust cohort to replace all the aging boomers. From 2002 to 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of 35- to 44-year-olds in the labor force will decline by 3.8 million, while the number of available 55- to 64-year-olds will increase by 8.3 million. Ken Dychtwald, the demographer, figures that businesses must roughly double their number of older employees over the next decade. "The managers trying to move everybody in their 50s out the door are taking their companies off a demographic cliff," he says.

Read the entire article and send this post to your jobless friends. Life goes on, with us or without. Corporations are not going to save us. We need to take control of our lives and help our friends to do likewise. Once we make the decision to move on, it is amazing how many opportunities open up.

How many of you observed this?

The upside to being on your own is a resurgence of your self-respect and a gradual restoration of your confidence.

You are unlikely to make one third of what you were making at first,
but you will find that your pride and self-respect will bloom as you
conquer the problems of running a small business. You get to call the
shots, you get to make sure that customers are satisfied, and you drop
into bed weary after 12 to 16 hour workdays. But your time is your own
and if you are at all typical of many new small business owners, you
will feel better about yourself than you have in years.

I am a member of the Sun Alumni and I see far too many good and
talented people who are still out of work after more than a year. There
is an active networking effort where employed members announce openings
for those who are looking for jobs, but my observation is that these
positions are mostly for low to mid-level employees with current skill
sets. Managers and Directors who have been laid off find little to encourage them.

Employment conditions have changed and will change again. The important thing is to position yourself so you are in control of your earning ability for the long haul. That generally means developing a business of your own. Join the group. You will find that you are part of a growing horde of self-motivated independent business people. You might even enjoy it! Most of us do.

Many thanks to Nelson French for bringing the Fortune article, 50 and Fired,  to my attention.

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0 Responses to How do you know when it’s time to move on?

  1. Frank Martin says:

    I think weve seen two work revolutions come into play in a very short number of years, and we are still dealing with the effect of both of them.

    First, the IT industry that existed prior to 1999 was fundamentally different that the one that exists today. There are many many reasons for this more than I can stuff into this comment, so I wont.

    Then, we came into a period that we call “the drought” which lasted from 2000- to about the end of last summer. “the drought” for people new to the industry was unlike anything they had ever seen before and had no expectation for such a thing occuring. For those of us who had been around in IT since the mid 80’s, it was nothing new, except in its depth and length. We had all seen “Droughts” before, but we never saw one where it was unclear that it would ever end.

    Those in positions we describe as “plumbers” managed to survive in some fashion far better and for longer periods than the management teams did during the drought. However, We are now seeing the negative effects of that approach in many IT organsiations. Lots of “plumbers”, but no management, no leadership and direction.

    As a result, we see a new trend emerging in the industry. The aforementioned structural changes in the market also did something fundamental to the structure of out IT divisions, they eliminated the concept of positions for people new to the industry,the “entry level” job, for people who have some schooling but no real experience have become nearly non existent in the industry. Sadly however many of our management concepts are still based on the idea of “grow from within”, yet – there is no “within” any longer on which to draw your companies talent.

    We now find ourselves with no people to grow the industry at the bottom of the food chain of organizations on which to promote and grow our organizations. People on which the culture and management style of an organization can be drawn into.

    The result has been a sort of stagnation in many organisations, an impact which was totally unexpected when the process of “outsourcing” began. Organisations that previously could not grow because of cost are now unable to grow because of a shortage of talent. Not labor mind you, but talent.

    The result is that IT industry management “greybeards” are now in demand like they never have been before. Experience pays, and for someone with flexibility, it can pay very well.

    My expectation is that we are on the crest of a boom that will make the gold rush of the 1990s look like a tea party. The odd part is, there wont be many positions at the bottom, but lots of middle-org action, in particular skills, but not for long term company stuff, just project to project.

    My advice to any manageer would be to find and hold on to whatever talent you can find, because while there is a wealth of labor, most organisations arent finding that to be the best use of their dollar. They want you to bring you “team” as much as they want to corral whatever team theve managed to misuse before you got there.

    The need “greybeards” to make the dollar go further, and frankly they arent finding many that are willing to go back into the meatgrinder of corporate life.

    As far as W-2 vs. 1099? Its 1099 by a long shot. We are transitioning from a “company” culture to a “project” culture, which is yet another discussion for yet another day.

  2. Jane Chin says:

    We haven’t all caught up with the realization that working professionals are retiring later because we’re living longer AND because technology has enabled us to contribute professionally with lower physical barriers. I can’t imagine being 50 and jetsetting around the globe for work, but welcome the idea of virtual teams. Until our mindsets catch up with this, 50-and-fired will continue as a scary trend.

  3. OK…this may piss a few people off, but I am writing my comment to provoke some thought:

    This topic brings up a whole new set of discussions: The world’s (false) obsession of youth and anti-aging. The answer lies somewhere in between.

    First, the obsession with youth is not going to go away. It has been around since Ponce De Leon cavorted around Florida, looking for the fountain of youth, so anyone is deluding themselves if they thing there is going to be a major shift in advertising, marketing or anything else as it relates to youth.

    The second and more important point is my motto: If you can’t beat ‘em, join them. 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40. Taking care of yourself, remaining healthy, lifting weights, taking antioxidants will not only extend your life (at least statistically); it will give you the energy to run circles around someone who is younger!

    My friend who is my age, 47, has a couple of teenage boys. While he is significantly stronger than the boys (he has been hitting the weights for 20 plus years), they are faster and they recover quicker. He still manages to beat them in most sports, despite the apparent disadvantage that he has. He told me recently: “all I need to do is to be a half-step ahead of them in experience and from a mental perspective that along with keeping me in shape, gives me the edge”.

    So what does have to do with the corporate world? Americans as a whole are a lazy society. 63% of us are overweight. Alarmingly 25% are obese. I fly every week and I look around and I always see, fat, lethargic 40 and 50 year old men (sometimes women), dragging there butts around. Who wouldn’t want a 25 or 30 year old somebody compared to that?

    We need to wake up as a society and get in shape! This issue is not going to go away and the only way to combat is to fight fire with fire! Age will always be discriminated against. Older men (not all, but some) will chase younger woman…companies will take that lethargic, 45 or 55 guy and replace with a faster, more energetic model.

    Stop sniveling and do something about it!

  4. Dave Opton says:

    As dismayed as I was at the depressing tone of this article the fact of the matter is that it never would have been written were it not for the fact that there is a major issue here. The membership our organization serves has an average age of 49. We talk with people every day who rather than spending their time posing for pictures that present them as the poster children of lost self-esteem and career despair are out doing something about it, be that by moving their skills to smaller organizations who desperately need the experience and leadership they bring or are “1099ing” their way to having more fun than they have had in years.

  5. This article was not written to depress. It was written to jolt a few people out of their “I’ve been wronged” rut and get them moving on to a more satisfying work experience than they have ever known.

    We are all responsible for our current situations. If that were not the case, we would never be able to change things for the better. There is ALWAYS something we have done or not done that left us open to being laid off at an inconvenient time.

    If we realize that fact, we can swiftly take action to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This series of articles is designed to give you the insight to work out the best solution for yourself.

  6. Zulu says:

    John, your friend is so wrong!!! It’s a common mistake to compete against young men.

    I qoute you:”My friend who is my age, 47, has a couple of teenage boys. While he is significantly stronger than the boys (he has been hitting the weights for 20 plus years), they are faster and they recover quicker. He still manages to beat them in most sports, despite the apparent disadvantage that he has. He told me recently: “all I need to do is to be a half-step ahead of them in experience and from a mental perspective that along with keeping me in shape, gives me the edge”.

    When you age and hopefully mature and gain experience you should go more toward
    coaching the younger people, help them excel, be better than you.

    If you choose to compete with them you are doing bad to them and to your self.

    My friend said “I will not compete with a 25 year old child in writing 30 loc program” and I say don’t compete with him, train him to excel .

    btw you can and should train in sport and compete against your self.

    When you fall in to the trap of competing with younger men (sons or workers) you will loose even if you can run 100 meters faster.

  7. Dee says:

    Here, here! I definitely agree with Zulu regarding older people competing with younger people. That’s madness.

    The post by Jane wasn’t thought-provoking but boring and ignorant. I’ve heard this argument about lazy Americans ad nauseum and frankly, it’s more tedious than enlightening; it’s a horse that’s been beaten to death. It’s a critical argument but inherently lazy too, since it doesn’t offer any inspiration towards evolution regarding new ideas or new ways of thinking.

    Why would any older adult want to compete with younger people anyway? Whatever happened to the elders passing down knowledge and wisdom? What kind of example would adults leave behind if all they want to do is compete with young people and beat aging?

    In good consciousness, if I was an older adult, I wouldn’t want to compete with younger people because it’s wrong, stupid and it will look out of place. At that age, it should be expected of me to coach, teach and nurture the next generation with wisdom and knowledge because they will eventually take my place as in generations past. And, let’s not forget, younger people will get older and age too! What will we be able to pass on to the younger generation that’s worthwhile and noble? Competing with young people and look like you’re 20 for the rest of your life? Bollocks.

    Jane, as the older generation, you obviously don’t have purpose nor wisdom to pass down to the younger generation and that’s how you show your devalued nature, therefore inviting discrimination. Perhaps you would find gainful employment as a mentor instead of beating young people to the punch. Instead of competing, why not teach?

    True, society does have to wake up, but I doubt that it will transpire the way Jane thinks it should. Who’s to say Jane or anyone on this planet even knows what an awake person or society looks or behaves like? We wouldn’t know because we’re not awake and we can’t see it because we’re all sleepwalking though life. Perhaps the lazy person who you despise might be the enlightened, awakened one.

    I’m not religious but look at Jesus and Buddha. They were enlighteded and awake as pure consiousness. Yet, they probably would be regarded as lazy in today’s standards. Afterall, they weren’t marketing geniuses, didn’t own huge corporations, and didn’t make mountains of money. But, I have to say, their message is sure as hell more inspiring and thought provoking than Jane’s post.

    Move aside Jane and make way for the next generation. We got massive student loans to pay off.

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