I wast just laid off from a job of 6 years. New manger came in, new company direction, no more need for my skill set. He’s moving away from Drupal/WordPress to the .NET framework and does not really care about search engine marketing.

My question is that I’m 54 years old and have over 15 years of experience in web design (Drupal, WordPress) and search engine optimization/search engine marketing (AdWords) but really, what company is going to hire a 54 year old?

I have a small consulting business but it’s not gonna pay the bills with two teenagers, one going to college and I’m a single parent.

Totally lost?

Any suggestions?

  • John, I'm really sorry to hear about your situation, and I can tell from the comments that I'm not the only one. I've moved the many comments offering tips to this chat room where I hope you all will continue the conversation. Good luck! Apr 2, 2017 at 18:21

3 Answers 3


First don't panic. It may take some time to get a job but you can get one. Concentrate first on filing for unemployment and look at all the costs at home you can cut out temporarily and I mean everything - kids cell phones, cable tv, any monthly subscriptions like Netflix, dining out, ways to lower the water and electric bills etc. Your college age child should be filing new paperwork for financial aid since you are now unemployed and may now qualify for aid he didn't get.

Then sit down and craft a great resume - it's a marketing document so that should be right up your alley. You do not need to indicate anything more than ten years experience, so it will not be apparent immediately that you are older than your 30s. Grab a book like What Color is Your Parachute from the library (you aren't spending money) and work with it to determine what you want to do. Put together a sample portfolio of public facing sites you have created so people can see some of your work. Make them want to hire you long before they ever meet you.

  • 1
    Thanks HLGEM, great advice, I read that book years ago, perhaps a re-read is in order. I do have an updated resume, LinkedIn, personal website (www.johnbernier.com). It's just my age that concerns me.
    – John
    Mar 31, 2017 at 20:58
  • 4
    For what it's worth (probably not much), to me, LinkedIn is synonymous with spam. In other words, it's NOT going to help someone get me to hire them.
    – WGroleau
    Apr 1, 2017 at 0:28
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    And also FWIW, I see today on SE, stackoverflow.com/jobs/129278/…
    – WGroleau
    Apr 1, 2017 at 1:45

I think you have three options: either you find another SEO/design/web dev role; you gain new skills - like JavaScript development or .NET server programming; or you double down on an existing skill that you think you can specialise in.

I've been working in the 'web industry' for about seven years. It's not your fifteen, but it has been enough for me to spot a few trends. And I have to break you some bad news - from where I'm sitting, the age of the web generalist - the mobile worker who knew a bit about UX, a bit about SEO, a bit about branding, and just enough technical knowledge to make the whole thing fly - that era is ending, at least for the near future. People are hiring dedicated designers, dedicated front end devs, dedicated back end devs. Even from the technical side, I see more and more specialization as the tech becomes too big and too deep for anyone to call themselves 'full stack' any more.

What can you do? Well, UX and design is a healthy field. Qualitative research, product thinking and graphic design are a great marriage. But if you're more practically minded, working as a business/systems analyst or product manager could work well. You could become a front end developer if you love the technology, though right now the JS world is experiencing serious churn in tools and approaches.

Let us address your age. You worry that employers will overlook older workers. I would like to think that's not the case, but I expect ageism is persistent. But consider - your age is really an asset. You have seen many organizations. You know exactly what is deliverable. You have delivered successfully for fifteen years. And age will give you gravity, particularly in a more management-facing job like business analysis. I would much rather stare down a hostile sales director as a fifty-four year old than as the twenty-nine year old I am. Remember that there can be advantages to certain stereotypes - enjoy them.

Good luck.

  • 2
    Thanks Jimmy, I've found, as in my previous job, that many small to mid-size businesses just don't have the budget for everything. There were looking for someone who could do many things and multi-task, which is what I love. But I get what you are saying. I find that my strongest skill set is SEO & SEM. I'm planning on focusing on that.
    – John
    Mar 31, 2017 at 23:24
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    IMHO some of this advice strongly depends on location. For instance, I live in Tennessee, US. I do not see a specialization trend here; in fact, there's a strong market desire for "full stack". Don't get me wrong though, that's at advertising value. The jobs themselves often turn out to be partial stack.
    – OhBeWise
    Mar 31, 2017 at 23:38
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    true, I live near Boston and and it's going that way but there are some small companies near Cape Cod and in Rhode Island that are looking for full stack. My niece went to University of Tennessee, great area!
    – John
    Mar 31, 2017 at 23:43

I see your concerns, and in a different field you'd have valid concerns, but the tech and web development is still a hot space.

Your website is very slick. If you're good at what you do, I can't expect you'll have any problems impressing employers.

The best way to find a job, in my opinion, is hands down LinkedIn. Network with people, look for jobs, or just present yourself positively to employers or recruiters. But if that's not working or you aren't in a city with a lot of activity, you'll need to be active on job boards.

Most people have and continue to find jobs through personal contacts. Leverage those as much as possible.

Best of luck!

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