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'I'll Take Anything' or Plan B? Your Choice

Here’s a phenomenon we’ve witnessed of late: jobless boomers who once had high-income, expense account jobs saying that unless their employment situation improves in the next few months, they’ll be forced to “take anything.”

The implication is clear: there are plenty of lower paying jobs for people who once held loftier positions—but you’d have to be pretty desperate to stoop to such a level.

Really? Seems awfully presumptuous to us—and even more short-sighted.
As many boomers have learned, seasoned veterans in all kinds of industries have had to take cuts in pay and prestige. Others have gone to Plan B.

If, say, an advertising agency is offering a low-level $26,000 position, why would they want someone who needs to “take anything” over someone who views the job as winning the lottery?

Just because you once made $100,000 in advertising and expensed lunches doesn’t mean a thing in the wake of this recession, in which entire industries have been re-aligned and thousands of jobs have simply vanished.

So what’s the answer? If you’re someone with a lot of experience and knowledge of your industry, Plan B may be summed up in two words: flexibility and gigs.

That means you’re open to taking on one or several projects at a time—part-time gigs that alone won’t pay the rent but collectively will.

Instead of “waiting” for that elusive offer to come along—and assuming that an employer will want you when you’re willing to “take anything”—start reinventing yourself.

Kick start your own company car, figure out new ways to be paid for your skills. Once upon a time someone paid you well for your work. Those days may be gone. It’s time for Plan B. Tell us how you’re doing it.


  1. RC

    If you are over 50, most likely you are in serious trouble with your job search. Our culture is youth oriented, jaded and clueless about the worth we have as professionals. Take a lower ranking job? At this point, I have worked for nothing to help launch start-ups, done some freelance work and gone on many interviews where I was a finalist. The American economy has produced more bank failures, job losses and mostly economic meltdown. NOW, we have healthcare reform but we need jobs so everyone can pay their bills, get back on their feet. We need incentives for companies to help them grow and compete worldwide. Where are the smart MBAs when we need them the most? As for Wall Street: off with their heads!

  2. ccl

    I believe there is alot of synergy between both of the articles–‘I’ll Take Anything’ or Plan B? and ‘Feeling Trapped at Work? You’re Not Alone’. I personally relate currently to both – I have taken downgrades from the lead position described to more of an individual contribution role. This has initiated me to define a Plan B – which is an area more aligned to my passion but due to the major change an entry level position salary. The challenge is first being 50 yrs old and the hurdles of getting an interview for an entry level position at 50, and then working personal finances to enable the change to occur. Its tough! A major change from where “I thought I would be at this point in my life”. What I enjoyed about these artices – is I am not alone, others feel the same way and are experiencing the same challenges.

  3. Very interesting perspective and thanks for sharing it.
    I’ve reached a point of reinventing myself…I’ve always had a love for pets and recognized the bonds people have with them. I grew up with pets, too. After working in graphic design and photography, and undergoing layoffs, I recently decided to start my own pet photography business –
    Getting a business off the ground is costly, time intensive and hard work, but it’s something I have a passion for, and I save so much time and cost by designing my own identity, website, and marketing material.
    It’s a worthy and meaningful business adventure and makes all the difference to me to watch pet owners be moved by my photos of their furry loved ones.

  4. Susan Grant

    I lost my job in the homebuilding industry last February. I tried to get a job in commercial construction for 8 months but went to plan B after being told by more than one potential employer, “We don’t hire people with homebuilding experience”.
    My plan B was to go to the Dept. of Labor website and look at the jobs with the highest demand. I also watched the Women For Hire webnar on “Working from Home”. Medical coding caught my eye. I investigated schools and I am now attending Devry University for Health Information Technology. I feel good about my decision. I still need a job, as my unemployment is about to run out and I still have a year left in school, but I think my chances are much better. My advice to anyone in my situation would be to “think about your plan B”. I have no background in Health Information Technology but I am really liking it! It is a lot like project management.
    I wil see you in Atlanta tomorrow!

  5. MT

    I understand problems we have and appreciate your sudgestion.
    However, how about health insurance?
    If we are not full time employee, we have to buy expensive policy by ourselves.
    I am currently thinking I should go for “will take anything”.
    The “plan B” does not seem to work for me.

  6. Finally Free

    The short answer to what I did to help in a very similar and bad situation; was I started my own business.
    Granted, I don’t make the salary I use to make at this time, but it was the best choice I have ever made for myself, my family and my sanity.

  7. Erica Chism

    This past year after being laid off for the 1st time in my life has actually been a great time of recalibration. After deciding to pursue my own businesses full steam I found that the skills I learned in corporate marketing and leadership positions prepared me to help others with their goals and marketing… and to get paid for it. I chose to focus on like-minded entrepreneurs and small organizations that, like me, where in need of scalable, start-up marketing plans and materials. I love what I am able to do. I also have the balance of having a home life. It does not yet pay what my corporate job did, but I am meeting great people and I can see that I am doing something of value again through the custom graphic design and styling I create.

  8. Carol D

    Every since I lost my job in Oct of 2008, i’ve been re-inventing myself and it helps to keep that mindset that there is SOMETHING out there that I can do to make a living, because unemployment and part-time jobs are not making a living. I’ve investigated some online schools immediately, even while finishing up my BA in Poli Sci/Public Admin. I think working around the clock right now with school is going to catapult me into a good job again. I can pile a Health Science online degree on the top of my 20+ years of business background, and I think I can then make a real living again. Right now, I just keep applying for many of the fake postings that are out there right now, and keep hoping that someone will call me in for an interview. Have to have hope because of my faith, i’ve met and seen some amazing people doing amazing things with a bad situation. KEEP HOPE ALIVE PEOPLE – YOU WILL MAKE IT WITH PERSERVERANCE and INTENSE DRIVE. If you begin feeling badly, always talk with someone about how you are feeling – people are out there that do care!!!!!

  9. Storm Knight

    I understand that times are hard all around and for me, a woman with an Associates Degree and 40 years old, loosing the BEST job I ever had was quite blow to the gut. When all the crap hit the fan I decided to go back to school. I’m working on my BA in Digital Editing. It’s true. I’m giving up on working for someone else, though I do have a current part-time job as a Library Assistant. I know better than to wait for the skies to clear and for everything to turn up roses but I don’t think the atmosphere is very friendly for young start-ups either, but maybe that depends on where a person lives. It’s hard to go from 75k to barely breaking 20. It’s even harder when you loose your retirement through no fault of your own and it’s just flat embarrassing to be 40 and living with your mother. I now have to take this barely get by job, pay for college and contribute to a more aggressive retirement plan because I refuse to work when I’m 75. This health-care reform bill is going to make things more difficult at best. So yeah, I’m going for plan B because I refuse to live in a cage and be at the mercy of the irresponsibility of others.

  10. I moved to New York City in 2000, found an interesting job and for 8 ½ years I primarily managed information systems, developed and managed the company’s website, wrote content and developed processes and procedures.
    I’m curious about how things work. So, when any special projects came along, including developing presentations and marketing collateral such as ads, brochures and graphics, writing proposals and creating public-facing dynamic communications, I was ready to dive in. While working in this full-time position, I attended college, majoring in Corporate Communications. I will receive my B.A. in a couple of months.
    Yes, I wore many hats and was well rewarded for my efforts.
    Life was good as I’d found a passion for writing and communications, a knack for defining and correlating the technical with the creative, and a company that supported my efforts. The not-so-good news is the economy – and my job – went elsewhere. Life happens while you’re planning something else. I was obliged to consider my focus and skills. As a result, here’s what’s kept me engaged and optimistic about the future:
    • New skills. Although I have a background in PM’ing web-development and an ability to easily learn software/technology, I hadn’t actually built a site from the ground up. So, I taught myself Dreamweaver and Flash.
    • Entrepreneurial spirit. As a result of my new skills, I developed my website – – to showcase my skill set for prospective employers and to take on consulting assignments. My first successful assignment: a new e-newsletter template for a Fortune 500.
    • Network, network, network. Stepping away from my computer not only gives me the opportunity to practice my “30 second elevator speech”, but I’ve made some important business contacts and new friendships. One never knows…
    • Give back: Volunteer. Why sit on my ‘mad skills’? As a result of attending various networking events and asking how I can help, I took on a couple of volunteer assignments including being part of the website Design Innovation Team for a non-profit. I’m more likely to be hired based on what people SEE rather than what I SAY I can do.
    • Internship. I have an interest in niche markets and cultural MarComm, so I interned for several months with a multicultural marketing agency, learned important insights about various segments and made some valuable contacts.
    Plan ‘B’ has always been a part of my professional life. While I continue to apply for positions and seek my next great opportunity, I’ll look beyond the routine to add value and develop new ways to innovate, create, integrate and communicate. Where are you spending your time and mental capital? Please feel free to visit my website, leave a comment on my blog, send me an email or let’s grab a cuppa and talk.

  11. kkb

    For anyone “stuck” in a job that pays the bills but leaves your soul empty, I strongly recommend a great book called “Creating True Prosperity” by Shakti Gawain. This book follows several top level executives who made the decision to leave their ivory towers and large paychecks to pursue new careers that fed their souls. Guess what? In most cases, they ended up doing what they love and still collecting large paychecks. Change can be a really good thing. I hope you enjoy it.

  12. LORENA

    I am looking to relocate overseas…Crete,or anyplace in Europe. I am an Air Force Veteran who worked in Military Communications and Logistics. Currently, I am working for a major airline who keeps reducing its force and cutting pay. I am ready to take any position where I can relocate and take my pets…
    Thank you,

  13. Sarena

    I have real issues with this article. First off, it assumes in the following order: 1. We know we can’t change the system, so lets think about lots of little back-breaking jobs to survive. 2. Someone’s going to loan us money to start a business, 3. We’re supposed to be happy about this. Why doesn’t Women for hire actually address these issues and go to present administration and make them see how we’re suffering and the long term expensie cost effects of having a group like us chronically out of work with little or no income.

  14. Sarena

    I have real issues with this article. First off, it assumes in the following order: 1. We know we can’t change the system, so lets think about lots of little back-breaking jobs to survive. 2. Someone’s going to loan us money to start a business, 3. We’re supposed to be happy about this. Why doesn’t Women for hire actually address these issues and go to present administration and make them see how we’re suffering and the long term expensie cost effects of having a group like us chronically out of work with little or no income.

  15. Michelle

    I chose the option of re-inventing myself. I’ve always had a love for writing. So, what started as a hobby blossome into a mobile document preparation business. I provide professional resume writing, notary services, editing and proofeading, transcription and other services.
    Additionallly, I published a motivational book. I’m currently working on a second. I do some motivational speaking at engagements as I’m invited.
    I just recently completed my B.S. in Business. Whatever my hands find to do – I do.

  16. ME

    I left my job of 80,000 a year in 2007. I started looking for jobs in the field that I left. But it was hard because the telecommunication industry was laying off and there is a need for IT degrees in that field. I held a BS in Business management, but I spent over 20 years in the IT world. To make a long story short I b2egan to reinvent myself. I haven’t held a fulltime job since I left in 2007. I began to volunteer in the community. I began as a substitute for 5th graders. That wasn’t for me. So I began to volunteer in Adult programs tutoring math and English. I also volunteer for the police department as a Family crisis volunteer for domestic violence, a vice chair commissioner for the Municipal Service Commission for the city of San Antonio and I go to school for a masters in Adult Ed.,Human Resources and I hold a part time job teaching Adult Education English as a second language. I plan to give myself at least a year into my masters program before I begin to pursue a fulltime job in human resources and or an area in which I can be a asset. I have only known telecommunications for 28 years and I want to do something different. If anyone has any suggestions regarding jobs that are looking for people like me or that involve Adult Education other than teaching maybe consulting please let me know. thank you

  17. Ann

    At 61, jobs are few and far between. Where do you find one that pays you a living wage? I have ‘downsized’ my standard of living, but it’s still expensive in suburban D.C. In a few months, I really don’t know where the money will come from after the second round of unemployment is gone. I have used savings, 401K and family! Homes aren’t selling and with my current credit score I doubt that I could even rent a decent apartment. If someone has some pointers for becoming a permanent employee with a decent salary and benefits, let’s hear it. I’m concentrating on becoming self employed, but there’s that health insurance thing.
    No matter how well you have kept yourself, your resume will announce your age. The youngsters running everything really don’t care about your education or experience. Sometimes I wonder, what is the use of pursuing employment, but then I see those seniors in Wal-Mart, and I really don’t want to wind up saying “Good morning, welcome to Wal-Mart!”

  18. DJ

    I’m currently in this boat. I currently work in a job that does not have any growth potential, and offers me nothing but an okay paycheck. I understand there are many, many people out of work, so I do thank god for what I currently have. I feel there is soooo much more for me, and yes I look every single day, this job leaves me feeling empty, and unsatisfied.

  19. Kim

    I lost my last full-time job in November of 2004. I’ was two months past my 50th birthday, and burnt out. I took a few months off so I could decompress (not too many jobs were available at that time, anyway, I reasoned.) Since that time, I found myself in many temp-to-perm executive assistant or administrative assistant jobs. Many of the positions fell through, either because employers wanted someone with more experience in their line of work, or budget shortfalls (at least that’s what I was told). In the beginning, this didn’t bother me too much, because I often went from one temp assignment to another. Then the economy collapsed, and temp assignments were few and far between. I found myself struggling to remain upbeat and went on searching for any kind of Executive or Administrative Assistant position. I read job search information online, in newspapers and magazines (such as which keywords to use in your cover letter/resume/sell-yourself-pitch; networking; volunteering, etc.) I am becoming overwhelmed by what I read, because it seems that each article contradicts itself. I’ve been networking, and I’m volunteering. I can’t afford to go to a class to learn a new skill; I do not want to forfeit my 401k or any other savings to do so. And I need all the unemployment dollars I’m now getting for my everyday expenses. The best I can do at this point is take a deep breath, figure out what my passions are, and try to work them into a job that I really want to do. I will also try some of the newest ways to network: by using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and of course, both Women for Hire and Waggleforce.

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