The best career resolutions for people 50+
Don’t rest on your laurels this year. Here's how to grow your career even when you’ve already got years of experience.
By the time you get to your 50s, you may have gone into a kind of career autopilot, figuring that retirement is on the horizon. You just need to get through a few more years of work until you can have a life, right?
Not necessarily. Remember, that could be another 10 to 20 years down the road, says Laurie Battaglia, CEO of Aligned at Work in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Can you see yourself doing the work you are doing for that amount of time?” she asks. “Staying in a boring job, tied by golden handcuffs or fear of the job market and the unknown can be soul-sucking. You can do better, and companies will hire you if you have the energy and updated skills that make you a great hire.”
Even if you’re not looking for a change, you should still be thinking about honing your talents so that you can fortify your legacy, insure yourself against a late-career layoff, or get a raise that can help you save more for that retirement you’re dreaming about.
Monster asked career coaches what New Year’s resolutions they’d advise for people in their 50s. What will you do in 2020? Start here for inspiration.
“The fastest way to date yourself is to ignore the technology world around you,” Battaglia says. This should be the year you resolve to get your social media knowledge up to speed.
While it may sound frivolous, Battaglia says it’s important: You may be coming to the point where your manager is younger than you, and you need to know how to communicate.
You also need to be using some of these platforms to brand yourself. Ask a younger colleague to mentor you, or simply spend an hour every weekend reading the “getting started” guides on the popular social media sites. Commit to regular conversations, status updates and comments on social media about trends in your industry.
The skills and experiences you’ve assembled throughout your career hold value beyond your place of work: Giving back to the community is a great way to expand your network and your resume, while also beginning to shape your legacy, says life coach Jennifer Coleman. In 2020, look for ways to volunteer, serve on nonprofit boards or get involved in public service to share your expertise with others.
Revisit what you lost
Your 50s are a good time to reassess passions or skills you may have put aside in the past, for whatever reason, says Glendale, Arizona-based author and business coach Laura Browne.
Is there a hobby you dropped because you didn’t have time? Did you have plans to study a language or develop a business skill, but never got around to it? Resolve to find something that was important to you and develop it into something you can use.
You’ve built up a lot of expertise over your career. Let others outside your organization know you’re an expert: Develop a public persona by looking for speaking opportunities, Browne says. Get involved in your local business or industry association or apply to present at trade conferences. This can open the door for new networking and career opportunities.
Be a mentor
“People in their 50s have a level of maturity and experience that can only come with time,” says John Sader, a specialist in human behavioral analysis, career coaching, and business development. Having learned many lessons through trial and error, you can now pass that knowledge to younger generations by serving as a career mentor.
This can help you leave a mark on the next gen but good mentoring also works both ways—your 20-something mentee may be the one who teaches you to Snapchat or TikTok. Talk to your HR department, trade organization, or college alumni association to find out if they offer a program.
Go to more networking events
It’s easy to feel like you can rest on your laurels, but it’s important to keep growing your network no matter your age. “Keeping up with your contacts and adding new ones will provide a safety net in the event that you were to be laid off,” says Angela Copeland of Copeland Marketing Services.
Rekindle old connections
Meanwhile, don’t let your old network drift away, says Monique A. Honaman, CEO of ISHR Group in Suwanee, Georgia. Reconnect with colleagues and old bosses.
“Jobs and careers change and you don’t ever want to find yourself in the job search trying to connect with people you lost touch with years ago,” she says. “There's nothing warm and fuzzy about getting an email from someone you haven't spoken with in years who tells you they are looking for a job and would love your help.”
Make plans to have lunches with old colleagues twice a month, and use social media notices (birthdays, promotions, job changes, etc.) as jumping off point to reconnect.
Fill in your skills
You’ve learned how to do a wide variety of tasks over your career, but is there anything missing? This is a good time to ensure your skills are current, Copeland says. Lack of current skills can be a big obstacle for those wanting to look for a new job later in their career.
Take a class, watch a webinar, or read books to brush up on the latest. Even ask a younger person you respect what five skills they think are most important for the next 10 years; the answers might surprise you.
Focus on your image
“Like it or not, we are judged largely by appearance,” says Susan Peppercorn, CEO of Boston-based Positive Workplace Partners. A good headshot is worth its weight in gold when it comes to online profiles, she says. The best ones project energy and enthusiasm.
If you haven’t bought new work clothes since the Obama administration, you might also consider investing in a wardrobe overhaul. Your clothes may be dating you, which could lead people to make assumptions that your skills are also behind the times.
Take a real break
Those in their 50s may have been pushing hard all their lives to get to where they are. Maura Thomas, author of Personal Productivity Secrets, recommends that people in their 50s especially resolve to take all their vacation time.
“Use the time off to strengthen meaningful connections with your family and friends, stimulate your mind by learning new things, and go back to your favorite hobbies or cultivate new ones,” she says. Taking time off can help you energize yourself for all the other thinks you’ll resolve to do in 2020.
Freshen up your resume
Letting your brand get stale can make it hard for you to find new work, so Peppercorn says a good resolution for 2020 is to update your resume and online career profiles to ensure they reflect your latest accomplishments and skills. Need some help with that? Get a free resume evaluation today from the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service. You'll get detailed feedback in two business days, including a review of your resume's appearance and content, and a prediction of a recruiter's first impression. Start 2020 with a polished, professional edge.