Are You Feeling “Used But Useful”?

Many prospective career changers come to us feeling that they have been or are the victims of age-ism, either by virtue of being too young or too old. Fortunately, we at the Barrett Group have never seen this as being a barrier to finding the ideal job.

One of my employers had a penchant for moving manufacturing equipment from location to location under the heading “used but useful.” In other words, the assets might no longer be state of the art but they could still perform a productive function in the right setting.

Is that how you are feeling these days?
Change in the Working Age Population by Age Group

Let’s begin with a quick review of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We will see how various professional populations in the US are changing with respect to age demographics.

The overall working population grew 11% between 2011 and 2018 per the latest BLS data available. We have heard a lot lately about employees reentering the workforce as expansion continues, and this probably plays a role. Still the growth in the older working population is remarkable. Note how the top two age groups (55 to 54 and 65 years and older) grew by 20% and 46% respectively.

If we segment out some of the more relevant professional groupings, we find a much more varied picture.

Legal, service, and sales professionals, for example, are broadly losing participants. Computer-related, arts / media, and health professionals are far outgrowing the national averages.

Interestingly, the growth in computer-related employment is not only among the relatively young (+60%). Even the oldest groupings are up 50% and 54% respectively. Arts/media shows the expected bulge at the young end of the spectrum, but also a surprising vigor in the oldest category (+29%), while health professionals are actually shrinking at the young end of the funnel while growing by 35% in the oldest category.

Now none of this speaks to income, and many of the service and health jobs may well be on the lower end of the income scale, however, the legal profession appears to be shrinking through all but the oldest category, something we hear from our clients quite often. On the other hand, engineering and arts/media are enjoying a boom at the younger end of the scale.

Change in the Working Population by Age Group
Change in the Working Population by Age Group

Now each of these trends will behave differently in local and regional markets, so the national statistic is probably not the best basis on which to make a decision, though big trends may color in particular the on-line job market’s supply and demand dynamics.

Our clients predominantly come through the back door, however, landing their jobs via the unpublished market.

That can make all the difference regardless of the dynamics in your industry, region, or age group.

We begin our process by clarifying each career changer’s objectives, not only professionally, but also with respect to family and relationships, fitness and health, and financial independence. Together with business success, these parameters help candidates clarify their own needs. The psychometric DISC evaluation also helps clients understand some of the behavior-based issues they may have faced in their careers so far, while the personal strategic plan helps them target their career change on a longer time horizon, sometimes requiring stepping-stone jobs to get to their ultimate destination.

Here’s what one recent client said about our Clarity Program© (the first step in the Barrett Group career change program):

“This was one of the most impactful activities I have completed in my professional life. Laura [her Clarity Coach] led me through this process at a pace that matched my expectations and really stretched me to think through my motivations. This was an ideal start and indeed helped me reframe the purpose and importance of this process. Laura is outstanding!”

Erin Donovan, January 17, 2020
So even if your industrial segment is turning against you, or you feel too young, or too old to be successful in your career change… don’t give up.

Contact the Barrett Group and let’s explore how our program can help you improve your professional satisfaction, security, and income while you are still used but useful.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

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