Reemployment in Later Adulthood

Losing your job can be a discouraging experience. Those of us who have had to go through this can attest to the difficulty of having to deal with difficulty news, and the transition that follows. Job loss can happen unsuspectingly to anyone, at any point in their career. However, the negative effects of job loss on mental health may be greater for older workers.

The fact that older adults have a harder time getting reemployed than younger adults (Wanberg, Kanfer, Hamann, & Zhang, 2015) may not sound surprising. However, the effects of this relationship are devastating. Consider the following research findings:

  • In older workers, there is a causal relationship between job loss and morbidity (Gallo, Bradley, Siegel, & Kasl, 2000).
  • Involuntary job loss negatively affects the mental health of older Americans (Mandal & Roe, 2008).
  • Involuntary job loss among older adults may lead to increased distress levels and potentially lead to an increase in clinical depression (Breslin & Mustard, 2003). 

Fortunately, the deterioration in mental health of older workers is reversed for those older individuals who re-enter the work force (Mandal & Roe, 2008), but re-entering the workforce in older adulthood may be easier said than done.

A recent article from The Globe and Mail tells us about the struggles of Johanne Tummon who at the age of 60 had to close her fitness-equipment business in 2013 due to the economic climate at the time. She was not ready to retire because she did not have the savings to maintain a retired lifestyle, and earnings from CPP would not be sufficient. Riding the wave of job searching was not easy for her. She was rarely called in for an interview and when she did land one, the pay was too low (i.e., $12/hour). She attributed these challenges to her age. 

Tummon was not mistaken in her decision to pursue work at the age of 60. In fact, 44% of individuals between 60-64 years of age are re-employed (Statistics Canada, 2014). The majority of these people return to work because they actually need the money, not because they are in search of a stimulating activity (Cornell, 2015).

Why is it so difficult to find work at 55+ years?

  • Ageism: Myths about the capabilities of older adults do circulate in the workforce. They are assumed to be less productive, more likely to require time off from work, and not being in the job for the long run (James, Kelly, & Blondin, 2015).
  • Economic Climate: Generally, it is difficult for individuals of all ages to find work in the current job market.

Tips for the job hunt at 55+ years :

  • Realistic Expectations: Even if you were a manager at your previous job, do not expect to get a job at the same level. Understandably, these jobs are offered to those who will be able to maintain the job for many years into the future (Cornell, 2015).
  • Network = Net Worth: It is much easier to market your skills to the people who already know your talents from previous jobs or other opportunities. This may take you farther than searching outside of your current network (Cornell, 2015).
  • Go Small: Working with smaller companies can be just as rewarding as working with the giants. More importantly, smaller companies usually have a broader scope and need people who already have many years of experience. This puts you at an advantage over the younger, perhaps less experienced job hunters (Cornell, 2015).

Are you an adult 55+  looking for a job? What are some of the struggles and successes you have experienced? Are you the owner/manager of a company? What are your thoughts around hiring someone 55+?


Breslin, F. C., & Mustard, C. (2003). Factors influencing the impact of unemployment on mental health among young and older adults in a longitudinal, population-based survey. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, & Health, 29(1), 5-14. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.698

Cornell, C. (2015, December 30). Getting past ageism and back to work after a late job loss. The Glode and Mail. Retrieved from

James, K., Kelly, R., & Blondin, A. (2015). Age discrimination, inclusive design, and older workers. The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia. Employment Law Conference 2015, paper 4.1. Retrieved from:

Gallo, W. T., Bradley, E. H., Siegel, M., & Kasl, S. V. (2000). Health effects of involuntary job loss among older workers: Findings from the health and retirement survey. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 55(3), S131-S140. doi: 10.1093/geronb/55.3.S131

Mandal, B., & Roe, B. F. (2008). Job loss, retirement and the mental health of older Americans.The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 11(4), 167-176. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.991134

Wanberg, C. R., Kanfer, R., Hamann, D. J., & Zhang, Z. (2015). Age and reemployment success after job loss: An integrative model and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. doi:

Statistics Canada (2014). Employment transitions among older workers leaving long-term jobs: Evidence from administrative data. Retrieved February 14, 2016 from:

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