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How to Change Careers or get a Job over 50

By seeking a New Way Forward right for you, and primary question may be how do I change careers or get a Job if you’re over 50. Or 40. Or 60.

If you’re over 50 and employed there’s a 56% chance you will be forced out of your job. Ageism can be a big reason, but may only be part of the story. There is something you can do about it and John Tarnoff has a methodology and strategies to prepare for it and even evolve and create a new dream career.

John Tarnoff is a former tech and entertainment industry executive. He now focuses on teaching, training, and coaching people over 50 to change careers and get a job. His recent book, “Boomer Reinvention” has received high praise.

Connect with John at

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Podcast Transcript: How to Change Careers or get a Job over 50

Fifty six percent over half of us over 50 are going to lose our jobs, not from our own volition. The sooner we recognize this threat, the sooner we’re going to be able to wake up. Plan for it and do something about it. The good news is, from my point of view, is that there is definitely a second Act.


Helping you find your new way forward to the best years of your life. This is a New Way Forward vodcast with your host Paul Long.


You’re older, you need to find a job. You figure you’re going to need to find a job, you want to get another job or pivot a career out of necessity or desire. I want something better. How do I do that? How do I do that with all the change that’s going on and the fact that I’m older? Well, my guest has incredible insights, information, mindsets and perspectives. Get out a pen and paper because you’re going to want to take notes. He’s John Turn-off and among other things, he wrote this book Boomer Reinvention How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. Now it’s not just boomers. It’s really good for anyone who is older, over 50 or nowadays, even in your late 40s. And John speaks from experience his own life. It was several dozen times that he’s had to pivot his jobs in his career. Now, a big part of his career was in Hollywood. And that’s not exactly job security. But John will give you the kind of perspective that you need to move forward with and the new realities of it. And here’s a perfect case example one that, on the one hand, is disappointing, but on the other hand, speaks to opportunity. And here’s the quote. The fact is that the world we’ve inherited is a far different world from the one we were promised. What do you mean by that?


Well, when when we grew up, there were three stages to a career. The first stage was that you got your education right and whether you were a high school grad or a college grad professional Degree, that education Entitled you to go to work and start a career and build a career. Chances are you worked in one, maybe two companies you were going through a series of roles rising up the ladder and you hit 65 and you got to retire. They gave you the gold watch. Nice send off mortgage was paid off. Kids were through school and you got your pension and and that was it. You well, you sailed off into into retirement. And of course, that paradigm no longer exists and we can kind of spend the entire time we’re talking. Deconstructing what happened and where we are now, but I think we all know that it’s a far more complex world that we live in today. Most people over 50 can’t afford to retire. We don’t have enough savings. The recession is still impacting or still has has has impacted people’s nest eggs. You know, the list goes on.


And so when, per the title of your book, when you talk about reinvention and and here’s fair warning, some of it is the kind of things you don’t want to hear as somebody over 50, but you really do need to hear it. So let’s start with kind of the Downside that you need to Be aware of what and what what things do I need to realize in order to get on a better path?


Right? Well, the statistic That has emerged over the last year, interestingly enough, Which I’m using a lot, comes out of a study done by ProPublica and the Urban Institute at the end of 2018, early 2019. And the Stat is this that fifty six percent Of people over 50 will get pushed out of their jobs. 56 percent over half of us over 50 are going to Lose our jobs, not from our own volition. Now this could be because we’ve gotten fired, Pushed Into a retirement buyout. We succumb to The to the The subtle but very pointed Sense that We’re no longer welcome. There’s a spectrum health care Health issues often push people Out of their jobs in their 50s and certainly in their 60s. Most people

Who retire at 62 do so because they have To retire because of health issues, right?


So the sooner We recognize this threat To our livelihood and to the regularity of our professional lives, the sooner we’re going to be able to wake up. Plan for it and do something about it. Because the good news is, from my point of view, is that there is definitely a second act. There is a way to extend your career Well Through your 50s into your 60s and 70s if you want to and establish a very productive, very meaningful, perhaps even more meaningful career in your second act.


Well, this podcast is about those realizations and also what those steps are, which will be coming to in a moment. But first of all, let’s go through that process in multiple steps. So first of all, what do I do with that realization that there’s a better than 50 50 Chance, but I’m going to Get out of my job before I’m Ready, but I haven’t Been ruled out yet. What should I be doing attitudinally or otherwise, right?


Well, first of all, if you’re in that situation, if you’re in a position to be Proactive where You’re still working, things still seem viable. People actually are smiling at you in the hallway. They do take you seriously in meetings.


They actually still invite you to the meetings. If you’re in that situation, You’ve got some time right? But you may start to feel like things are not quite the same. People are looking at you a little bit differently. And what you need to do is go through and if We can just kind of Segway into The five Steps that I talk about in the book a process of really self-evaluation. To get yourself. Oriented towards what I think is a very different way of going about managing your career at this point in your life.


And I just want toInterject something here, which is that while this applies to people over 50. I think it’s actually something that reflects the way Jobs hiring, Recruiting career management have all changed over the last Certainly 10, probably 20 years As we Have gotten much more digitally Inclined, let’s say. And as the digital disruption has upended pretty much every business And the way we do stuff In every business.


If it has happened to me and I have been laid off fired brooms, whatever the context is, you’ve got a really good point in here about I’ll characterize it as get over it. Well, yeah, I mean, it’s easy to say, hard to do, right. I think where that? We’re that kind of the intersection of that, for me, is this idea about how we go about getting a job and what our reflex is about getting back out there and we were taught a certain way of doing this, which is You get at your resume.


And and as I, whenever I talk about this, I always think about going to the file cabinet and pulling the actual paper resume out of that folder. That typewritten Resume right

Back in the day and you look it over and you think, OK, well, I got to add my latest job to the top and I may have to do a little summary, and I want to characterize things a little bit differently, and maybe I should put a purpose statement at the top and obviously got to change my my. Maybe I changed my email address and just a little point here for everybody, please. Anyone who’s got an AOL email address there.


Please move to Gmail.


You’ve got to identify yourself in contemporary terms. But beyond that, the point I’m Trying to make and I’m sorry to be so long Winded about it is That hiring has changed. It’s not about your resume anymore. Your resume is going to is not going to get you in the door. It’s going to get lost in the process of trying to get on some recruiter or hiring managers radar. You have to use your network as your primary vehicle to get a job today. And I can’t tell you how many people I encounter Who Tell me the same sob story, which is I’ve submitted my resume to dozens hundreds. I had one guy who told me on an AARP Forum That he had submitted his resume at 4000 jobs without getting 4000 positions, without getting a callback. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it certainly must have felt like 4000 Applications to him.


It’s just not going to happen. There’s just too much traffic in the recruiting field today. And recruiters and and HR is running your resume through a scanner for keywords. It’s a mechanized industrial lockstep Depersonalized process, trying to pick up Skills from your resume that they think they want for that Position.


By the way, you’re too old for this. You have too much Experience, you know, too Much, and you probably don’t suffer fools quite as well as you did when you needed to suffer fools because you needed to still be learning stuff. So. That’s the first thing you got to realize is that you’re not going to get there in the same way that you used to be able to get there.


Things have really changed.


So therefore, in a fundamental sense, how do I approach it then? I mean, you still do need to have a resume, but it also needs to be a modern approach to it. Absolutely. But with that said? How do what’s my mindset in approaching this differently, right?


So the mindset is thank you for feeding me All the great, all the great Prompts. The mindset is that you no longer want to think of yourself as an employee Taking direction

From a manager. You want to think of yourself as a consultant, providing value to a client.


And this can be regardless of how you’re Paid, whether you actually are paid as a consultant with a ten point ninety nine or a series of ten ninety nine at the End of the year or as An employee getting a W-2. It really doesn’t matter becauseToday it’s all about the value that you provide. It’s not about this steady state skill and function that you perform. It’s not about clocking in at nine and clocking out at five and having a clean desk when you leave your office. This is a 24-7 always on world.


You kind of get to Pick your your schedule as long as you get your work done and the and the progressive way. And I’m sure if you’re in the job market and you’re reading up about all this stuff, you’re Seeing this debate about. Flexible hours and, you know, different lifestyles and you know, how Nomadic Approaches to to work styles and getting


Things done remotely And electronically. Because it’s no longer this same industrial workplace and workforce paradigm that we Grew up in.


Now also, you kind of hit on a point there, and that is technology where certainly there is an assumption and probably some extensive Amount of truth to It about people over 50 and just Not being tech Savvy. Right?


Well, this is Rubbish, you know, And this is a this is part of the ageism that we are being subjected to, and we can certainly go On for a whole other hour about Ageism and the vicissitudes of ageism. But we’re not going to get anywhere by bemoaning all of the obstacles that are Being Thrown in Our path. I like


To think of, you know, we talk a lot about digital natives And this kind of vaunted Idea of the digital Native. You know, the kid


Who’s grown up with technology is thoroughly familiar with it kind of breezes through all of it, learns it really quickly. We are the digital Founders, right? Our generation came up with all this stuff. You know, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, these are these are all boomers, right?


So the the fundamentals of the technology that we’re all using today was developed in our generation. And I think. What we benefit from is having grown up in an era without it, living and working in an era with it. I mean, truth is, if you’re over 50 today, you have been working on a computer for the last 30 years. Right. And. Or more so you are actually thoroughly familiar with technology. There are enterprise software packages and platforms that, believe me, millennials have as much trouble as you Learning how they function.


Your advantage as an older worker is that you understand where this goes, why it works, what the purpose of it is. So the context is a lot clearer to you than it would be to someone who has not got that level of experience. So use it right.


In this respect, I’ve got I’ve got to throw in something I think, and so much of what you’re talking about is taking a New perception, a new Context, a new mindset to it. And what I find is That just Because I don’t live with my phone in my nose like so many millennials do, just because I’m not using it for everything, all The time does Not diminish how we’re using Zoom right now, how I use Photoshop, how you. But typically, I find a lot of boomers use the technology in a more smart, purposeful Fashion rather than just Using Technology for Technology’s sake. But with that said, I do find some boomers Who are resistant Of it. So how do you smartly embrace it if you are one of those people?


Well, I think part of the problem there is that people who are. Who are resistant have been resistant for a long time, and for some reason, they they think that they can they can maintain the distance that they have, that they have tried to enforce and that somehow it’s going to go away. Right. Or they’re going to be able to kind of, you know, bypass this somehow. And I would say. Go to YouTube if you’re if you’re feeling at all intimidated, embarrassed or ashamed of your lack of experience, lack of familiarity, lack of comfort with technology, go to YouTube and type in. Any area where you feel deficient, whether it’s a program like PowerPoint, PowerPoint tutorial. Any search term that you want about something that you feel uncomfortable about? Typing YouTube, you’ll get a raft of videos that you can watch That are going to Help you get familiar with this stuff. Exposure is going to reduce intimidation and it’s going to improve familiarity And comfort and ease, And you’ll get the language And The jargon and the practices and the Shortcuts.


And a little by little, it’s just going to permeate into your awareness and solve the problem. It’s kind of as simple as that.


And by the way, I wholeheartedly agree, and it’s advice that I give all the time and working in the video world premiere Pro.


I learned on YouTube If I need to do something I don’t know how to do, there’s seven videos that show me how to do it, and it Takes me about 15 minutes,At least seven, 17. Yeah, and seven. And also the fact that one of the advancements in technology is UX, the user experience, meaning that it’s very intuitive typically. So yes, get over the intimidation by it.


Before we go To the the five Steps, I want to Read a quick paragraph here


That you that you have up front, which kind Of we’ve been talking About.


Ok, you may or you have been laid off or let go, let go for your job prematurely. You need to keep working for whatever reason. And the other thing, though, is is also to the fact that we’re going to be living so much longer. I mean, Chip Conley wrote an article not too long ago where he said he literally figured out that 58 is middle age and therefore he took up surfing, right? But you wrote the opportunity to live longer Lives all longer Lives also bring serious challenges.


We have to come to terms With the fact That we can’t take the future for granted and assume that things are going to somehow magically work out, e.g. retirement. We have to develop a realistic plan for economic survival that can sustain Us for twenty Five, even thirty five years beyond the Traditional retirement age.


At the same time, the perspective that age and experience bring will also likely cause you to reevaluate, reevaluate and recalibrate your career in terms of how You’re feeding Your soul, not just how you’re Feeding your bank account.


Expand on that right?


Well, to Chip’s point, you know, statistically, if you get to 65 today, you have a one in four chance of living past 90. And every year that you live past 65, those odds go up. So now, having said this, we need to acknowledge that there are some wrinkles to that


Actuarial Prediction. A lot of them are economic. So for college educated people in their 50s and 60s, that longevity number goes up for those without college educations in more blue collar careers. Those numbers go down. Fortunately, we have a we have a significant divide longevity, divide An economic divide In this country and in this generation another topic. But I think that the if I can kind of like circle myself back to your question. I think the. The question is, do you want to live essentially a third of your life in retirement? And I think the answer is no.




So the. The the the I know the challenge. The incumbency on us is to take responsibility for this new prolonged Period of Life that we have because no one has figured this out before, this is we’re really on in typical boomer fashion, we are on the edge of a frontier that has never happened before, Probably Ever in human history. Kind of a big statement, but it’s kind of true. This is this is this. This is a new period of at least 10, probably 20 years for most people. Which they had not thought of as being a productive work period. So everything gets upended, and I want to get back to this original question that you had earlier question you had about reinvention. And the definition of reinvention, and I don’t See reinvention necessarily as this radical 180 degree reversal where you drop What you’re doing and you Completely change your attitude and go from, I mean, do a do a again, right? You don’t kind of drop your law career one day and wind up as a painter and Tahiti the next. You know, you’re you’re now some people do this, some people will kind of get to the end of their rope and they will say, fine, I am  Either retiring Or I’m quitting and I’m starting a small business that I’ve wanted to do for years. Whether it is the guy in the Midwest who loved olive oil, who was, I forget where he worked. He was, I think he was a 3M executive in Michigan. And he. Started a small olive oil shop because he was Kind of loved a differentOlive oil, so he, he and he, you know, opened up the store was a big hit. It was in a tourist area. It was very smart about where he opened it up. He opened up three or four other locations, wound up opening up a shop in Hawaii so he could go to Hawaii.


I mean, that’s One example of a kind of a radical reinvention. Most people reinvent themselves from employee to consultant, where they drill down on a particular aspect of what they’ve done, something that they really did well that they enjoyed doing. They leverage the client base or the contact base that they have built up over the years, and they really focus in on this one area and launch their shingle based on that area. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can reinvent your career.


It does not Have to be something daunting. It does not have to be something radical. It can be and should be organic.


So we’ve talked about, obviously, if you need to find another job, if you’re looking to change careers, if you’re looking to maybe start a business. The ultimate point is is that you keep active because you have such an Increased lifespan And health span. So in those different manifestations, in the millions of points in between. Does your five step reinvention methodology apply to Everything, apply To any of those scenarios?


Right. So the the methodology is a self-reflective kind of a personal growth approach to career development. And people always ask me, So does this apply to aerospace? Does this apply to chemical engineering?


Does this Apply to Sales or marketing?


Yes, because it’s not about the the domain and the expertise that you have. It’s about you. It’s about you figuring out making Decisions about Who you are, what you want to do, what you can do, what you have done in the past, how you’re perceived and then workshopping a process and then using your network to bring this to fruition.


So I came up with this system Or methodology based on a Couple of things. One, the fact that I come out of The motion picture business. I was a film Studio executive and producer for You know, thirty five years and Got fired a lot because you got fired a lot in entertainment. It’s a very tumultuous business. It’s very Volatile. And whether


It’s because you align yourself with The wrong People and other people come in and everyone gets fired Or, you know, Things change. You know, you make the wrong bet or, you know, sometimes has something to do with you. Sometimes it has something to do with other people. But the fact is, people change jobs a lot and the rest of the economy is kind of caught up to entertainment in that sense. You know, millennials are looking at having, you know, 10 20 jobs over the course of a 40 year career.


Well, I like to say that I got fired thirty Nine percent of the time in my entertainment Career, Seven jobs out of 18 Jobs between 1975 and 2010, basically. So that plus going back to school at a particularly Uncomfortable juncture Around the year 2000 or 2002, I turned 50 And I had a I had a business That blew up. I had a tech startupThat I had Veered off into in the 90s, which was a lot Of fun and, You know, very Learned a lot. Ups and downs. But it washed out along with everything else when The bubble burst and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I went back to school and took a psychology degree, Mostly because I Wanted to learn more about myself,And I wanted to kind of put some Vocabulary behind a lot of these things that I was feeling about, you know, who I was and where I wanted to go and how I could communicate that. And that became kind of a cornerstone for the work that I’ve done since then. Although I spent the next 10 years mostly back in the Entertainment business at DreamWorks Animation,


But I was doing Different stuff. I was doing a lot more of like what I was, what I’m doing

Now, which is focused on training And education and People as Opposed to Content and projects. So that was kind of my shift. That was my reinvention and The process That I went through doing that became the foundation for my coaching methodology and for the book. And the first Step in that is A personal reframe is this idea that you you kind of look at yourself and you go. You know, or here’s here’s another way of looking at it.


Any time you hear Yourself say, I’m not the kind of person who or that’s not me, or don’t you understand that’s not how things work?


Stop. And think about it, You know, is this Really true? Are you really that person or is this just a habitual Definition that you Have accumulated over the years? So in the reframing process, I invite people To really take a look at That and Go through some Exercises around thinking of yourself differently, kind of acting as if asking this what if question. And that kind of puts you In this kind of beginner’s mind Mindset where you’re thinking,


Well, maybe everything that I know or think I Know, May or may not be right. Right. So you Open yourself up to new ideas, which I think is the first Step in Any new kind of venture, right? Just to be open. So then the second step is what I call the listening step, and this is where you go out into your environment, into Your network and listen


For feedback from people who are willing to tell you the straight story about who you are. The good stuff. The bad stuff. You know where you screwed up, what you’re good at, where you could go. And this is not to get into a debate with them.


This is to research. This is to get information. This is to learn about how you’re perceived in The world and See what the patterns are that emerge because Everyone might have a different set of opinions, But maybe one thing stands out. Maybe they say, no matter what happened, you were always great at solving problems with people. You were always a great Negotiator Or or

Arbitrator mediator In conversations. You know, things Come out of this that you never really knew about yourself. I have people tell me these wild stories about, you know, kind of like the light bulb goes off about who they are and what they can Do and what their strengths are.The third step is really one of the most important steps, and this is the idea that we all have Baggage, right?


The older we get, The more experiences We accumulate. There’s bound To be some baggage Along the way. Right? Deals gone bad bridges. You’ve burned people who did you wrong? And we tend to kind of harbor these hurt feelings and anger and frustration and self judgment.


So the third step, Which I call accept, is to accept all of these experiences as lessons. And if you don’t clear the decks and resolve all of this baggage, you’re going to bring it with you Into every job, Interview, every investor meeting, You know, anything that you’re going To do going forward, you’re going to be somehow tainted by Or held back by These, this baggage, you know, these past experiences that you don’t feel resolved about. And it goes to that famous question that we All dread in the job Interview, which is so Tell me about your last job.


Right. Why did you leave your last job? And if you got fired, you just don’t want to tell that story, do you?


But you have to, right, you have to Actually be able to confidently. In a. Upbeat, wise manner. Talk about some of the most uncomfortable situations That you’ve experienced in your life And what they’re looking for is your ability to have processed through them And extracted the lessonFrom that and to stand up in who you are and where you’re going and the self-awareness that you bring. This is particularly true Now that you are over 50.


People look up to us because we’re supposed to have it figured out. And when we do a lot of this Ageism that we See all around us somehow dissolves because people get when you’re sitting there That you are someone Who is a resource. And could maybe provide a lot of value to the operation. And you’ll see the conversation change, it’s wild when this happens because you have gone through that third step that accept step and resolved all of this inner ambivalence that you’re Bringing to the table. So. One to three, the reconciliation Steps.


Step Four is the express step, this is where you get to kind of tell your story to yourself. And start to try it out. And whether you Use a mind map or vision boards or a journal or you do a lot of research Around this, this is Where you get to play with the ideas that you are looking to Turn into a career plan. And if you’re starting early, as we talked about at the Beginning, this is great because you’ve Got time to Really kind of sit in this And Deepen in these Ideas.


Talk about them with your Friends and family, talk about them with trusted colleagues, maybe Even people in the Work that you’re doing now, depending on what environment that is. I mean, if it’s a kind of a straight laced corporate environment, probably not. You don’t want anyone to know about it because they’re going to suspect you and then they’re probably gonna fire you faster. But you may find that there are situations In relationships that you can have where there is the possibility of talking about this Next stage That you want to go into. And then finally, once you’ve kind of figured this out, it’s back to The network, right, it’s back To going to all the contacts you have building new contacts To sell This idea.


And people tell me all the time, Oh, I’m not great at selling. I’m not good at selling, I’m not good at networking. But if you figured out that value proposition that you want to bring to market Something that’s really Based on who you are on what really drives you on the values That You hold dear. Then the story that you’re going to tell this pitch, that you’re going to construct the value that you’re going to deliver, It’s not selling,


It’s just an extension of yourself. So that enthusiasm, That Confidence that you have in that transformation that you’re bringing into the marketplace, whether you’re a consultant, whether you have a product, whether it’s a service, whatever it is, No matter how small Or how large that vision may be if it’s authentically you. There’s no reason why you can’t build a network around it and fire other people up with the same level of enthusiasm for what you’re doing That you have And then it starts to, you know, virally spread out and the goal is that your phone starts ringing. I mean, figuratively speaking, because, you know, most of the phone calls these days are robocalls, but your Email box starts getting Full of people inquiring about. Tell me more about this, right? So and so, so and so said, I should talk to you because you’re Doing this right? Tell me more about this. So it’s Going from becoming a Job seeker in the old sense To really becoming A job magnet where where the the the Work is coming to you because you’re expressing it And Networking around it in a compelling way. Here we go five steps, no, Fantastic, and in the book, it obviously goes deeper into it. It’s very useful because There there are some Grids and tables in here to work with, and the thing I really enjoy is that you have stories of other people in here and their examples of it as well. So it Makes it makes it much Easier and and also deeper experience For someone to use. Let me ask you this. Bottom line with all of this. What is your what is your fundamental motivation, what do you hope to see Happen by the results Of what you’re doing with your book and your workshops and obviously your growing enterprise getting into other areas? What’s your purpose?


I I get a lot of satisfaction. Out of. Seeing people experiencing people getting empowered about themselves. You know, a lot of people have lost the thread of why they do what they do and so. To work with Someone and Help them to recapture that spark And then build that into a. You know, a real furnace around their next steps and their next career. This is just enormously Rewarding for me personally, and that’s kind of my second act is Helping you build yours.


John, how can people follow you and how can they reach you?

John, You can find me also at LinkedIn under the same the same name. I’m on Twitter at John Tarnoff.


It’s just just type in the Name and all the stuff comes up.


If you like this, there’s a lot more on YouTube. Also, there’s even more on new way forward, that’s new way fWt. There you can subscribe. You’ll get a free newsletter regularly, you’ll get special updates and you’ll get a free download to help you step by step. Get going on your new way forward.

How to Change Careers or get a Job over 50.