Matt Heusser has a great column over at Stickyminds this week. Take a look at A Long View of the ‘Short' Technology Career.
If you are an older job searcher, and you are looking for a job, one thing you might do is look for a technical job. That's what I suggest in Manage Your Job Search. Now, you might have to do this as a contractor. But that's okay. Because if you are unemployed, you want to become employed. And a temp-to-perm situation is fine. If you've been employed for long enough, a temp situation is fine, too.
A technology career is as long as you want to make it. It is your job to do career development, whether you are employed by someone else or not. I recently wrote about this in another management myth, Management Myth #9: We Have No Time for Training. The problem with this management myth is that employees believe that their organizations should pay for training, too.
If you want your technology career to last, and you want to be in demand as a technical person by lots of people, you need to train yourself. Participate on an open-source project. Teach yourself a new language. Search out a new project in your organization and ask to be transferred to it, when the time is right. Buy a book and read it. Send yourself to a workshop or a conference. Yes, those last two are expensive. They are cheaper than being unemployed. They might provide you networking opportunities that bring you your next job. How valuable would that be? Do something that extends your career.
Then, if you happen to be unemployed at the difficult age of 50 or older, you have the depth of experience and the network to be a technical employee.