Career Stage Is Partly a State of Mind

Many workers age 50 and older do not consider themselves to be in the late stages of their working careers and are looking to have extended periods of productive and intriguing work, says a report from the Sloan Center on Aging and Work.

It said that separate from chronological age, workers see their age in various ways, including relative age (how old a person feels), career stage age (what point a person considers himself or herself to be in a career), physical age (a person’s perception of life expectancy and continued ability to carry out tasks including continued working), and social age (how old the person is perceived to be).

“Over a person’s career, one generally gains skills and knowledge with the expansion of their professional roles—these skills and knowledge then are what we consider as career stage, or career ‘age.’ Today, though, a person’s career path does not follow a linear, lock-step progression. It is possible that younger workers might advance more quickly and therefore already be in mid or even late-career. Alternatively, older adults who are re-careering might bring extensive work experience to the job but still be early career,” it said.

“A person’s tenure, or how long an employee has been with an organization, raises similar considerations. Tenure is important because it refers to the organization-specific knowledge that an individual has accumulated over time. Often, this knowledge is indispensable to employers, though unfortunately when workers are laid off, change jobs, or retire it is often lost,” it said.