Being unemployed as an older woman is a stressful, frustrating experience. It’s also a situation that few of us imagined we would be in just a few years ago.

For the first part of the 2000s, our careers were humming along nicely. As women in our 50s, our careers might have slowed down a bit, but, we were certainly as busy as ever. Retirement, while still a distant dream, was still in sight.

Then, the Great Recession hit. Like so many segments of society, the women in our community were hit by the full force of this economic disaster. Many of us lost a considerable percentage of our savings in the turmoil. Others found themselves facing unemployment for the first time in decades. Some experienced both.

 
 

There is an unfair stereotype that people who are unemployed simply aren’t willing to do the work to find a new job. Some people believe that all you need to do is “learn new skills” to get back in the game.

Well, having talked with many of my Sixty and Me sisters, I can tell you that they are more than prepared to put in the effort. Some of them have been successful in finding new positions. Others have been forced to take an early retirement.

Since this is an important issue for many women, I was glad to see that one of our members, sharc, recently brought this up in the conversations section of the website. She asked:

Has anyone in the community had an experience with being unemployed?

She went on to say, “I am sure that I am not the only Baby Boomer who was downsized from employment six years ago, but, it feels like it. Some of my friends have the fortune of being married and supported by spouses. Others have retired or moved closer to family. I do not have either option. I returned to college last year to increase my marketability and I am enjoying my classes. Has anyone else had a similar experience?”

This is such an important question and one that deserves to be discussed!

gypseaannie commented, “I found myself in your position. I also went back to college to upgrade my skills and it, eventually, worked. Unfortunately, I once again I found myself without employment due to cost cutting within a small non-profit, which I so enjoyed working there for the past 5 years. Now I am 5 years older and taking some time to reassess just exactly what I wish to do when I grow up. I have been doing some pet/house sitting and I really enjoy it. I have taken care of dogs, cats, parrots, bunnies and ducks – what fun! I am toying with retirement, but, I want to keep busy and supplement my income, which is small since I stayed home and raised my babies when I was younger. I loved going back to school and realized that education is often wasted on the young. I loved my classes and was even Valedictorian. So enjoy your learning, my friend.”

cecilia88 added, “I am unemployed right now and I love it. That said, I need to find a job and I can no longer work as a retail manager due to some physical problems. I can do office work, but, it’s a hard sell at my age. I haven’t done it for 15 years anyway. I took graphic design classes a few years ago and I still play around with it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence, training or talent to even think about that as a career.

Another recommendation that was made in the comments was to check out services like Coursera.org. Personally, I’m a big fan of this approach and have tried Udemy.com, iTunes University and many others.

This is definitely a difficult and emotional issue, but, I’d love to get your thoughts on this.

Are you dealing with being unemployed as an older woman? What advice would you give to the other women in our community who are out of work but not ready to retire? Please join the conversation.

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