Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Unemployment: For the older professional who had everything

Joseph N. DiStefano, on

Published in Senior Living News

Then he fell "about as low as one can go": the job message boards. Bill answered requests for project cost-accountant positions -- "basically, starting over." No replies.

Plan D: "On Monday, I am attending an open house at a recently opened hotel that is looking for a shuttle driver for their guests." He hoped to get lucky and find an airport route, and passengers who tip.

Can't people who work hard find something that pays into their silver years? I put the question to a couple of guys who are Bill's social and job contemporaries. "He's not a whiner. He's right," said Jim Horan, 65, another commercial-loan-workout veteran, who last worked full-time in 2013. "Over 60, you are a Dead Man Walking in the job market."

"It happened to me," says Greg O'Meara, a former bond trader who now sells Irish bread from a Delco bakery. He remembers a recruiter turning him down obliquely by showing him a stellar Wall Street resume from another bond trader. "It was very good. But he was 57. He told me, 'This guy will never get hired in that industry again.' "

Unlike jobs where seniority counts, there's no tenure on Wall Street -- or in sales generally -- it's all about your perceived ability to keep selling, added O'Meara, who is 67.

"You eat what you kill. Some industries pay great sales commissions. Some years, the game was aplenty." In fat times, people come to "associate their paycheck with their confidence," he said.

Then the game ends. When O'Meara lost his trading job in the recession, "I sent resumes to at least 50 places, and the response rate was quieter than two butterflies on top of a lemon merengue pie. If you are over 50 and reduced to digital contact, you are dead." He added: "I don't think the Boomers saw this coming."

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The high-end gig economy has developed at the same time as guaranteed pensions have nearly disappeared, except for top management and government workers. O'Meara says we could write "a sad book" with all the stories, but the subjects couldn't afford to buy it: "They're driving Ubers, and shuttles, and working as security guards."

Bottom line, O'Meara concluded: "When the game gets scarce, and compensation diminishes, well, you had better have something set aside."

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