After 50: Retooling for a New Career

I am using my 30-year career as a journalist as an example.

When I first started as a reporter/editor – and I am talking just after typewriters and bottles in the bottom drawer hit the dustbin – we worked on terminals connected to a central computer.

I was working for a wire service at the time and everything we “posted” had to be custom coded – something that is now similar to HTML and other coding methods.

When I get asked whether I know HTML or how to use Content Management Systems, the answer I want to give is: “We invented them.”

My first point: The technology might have changed – or renamed – but the core of most business and journalistic writing remains the same – you just have to adapt with the times.

When I was laid off from my last editing position and began looking for a job strictly in journalism, I was told by an old colleague and former employee – who now holds a position of power in the industry – one piece of advice: “Switch careers.”

And journalism has changed: Newspapers are dying; media companies are intensively moving to web and mobile and verticals on specific issues – mostly something we used to call beats.

Now, this post serves two purposes: Except for the old-school, hardcore obstinate if you really want to remain in the journalism business you have to adapt.

The second: After 50?

I have accepted that despite my considerable and well-honed journalistic skills, people my age looking for a position in the industry are at a disadvantage.

The advantage – we have the old-school skills: the need to have a balanced story; the need to have every claim backed by at least two sources; the basic structure of a news story.

The disadvantage is many of us are not schooled in social media as a tool in journalistic pursuits — plus we cost more.

Then there is the constant quandary of being hired after 50.

But here is the good news:

Barring an age issue the skills you have attained are transferable: to content writers for corporations, to becoming an expert in social media and its uses if you have the time and desire to learn how (I did); to learning some of the finer points of public relations and media outreach.

It can all be done; and I am living proof it is being attempted – big time.

And unless time has truly not been on your side, once you get your foot through the door, the age issue becomes secondary.

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