There are reported to be approximately 8,000-10,000 workers a day turning 65 for the next 18 years. This means that over 50 million workers will reach retirement age within the next two decades. This group has strived to redefine their culture through protests, social change, social service, dedication, honesty, free thinking, independence, and striving for harmony and good will. They want to be liked, like to please, and appreciate being told when they have done a good job. What will the people who led the social revolution of the 60’s do after leaving the work force? Will they continue to work in their present positions as long as they are able? Will they seek retirement careers? Will they pursue volunteer opportunities to fulfill their devotion to service? Based on their past history, Boomers are likely to reinvent themselves yet again and use this time as a chance for new vocational opportunities that will make the concept of the end of work in retirement obsolete.
A strategic plan can help any retiree think about what they want to do during a time in their life that offers financial security with pensions, social security, annuities, investments, and Medicare. Here is the opportunity to spend time with family, loved ones, and people you enjoy. You can spend more time on hobbies, volunteer activities, fundraising for a favorite charity, or working in a job where you are comfortable and have a lot to offer.
What about your career? Many Boomers claim they want and have to work past retirement years and need direction in achieving this goal. Why not invest some time into planning the second part of your career and take the opportunity to explore how the culmination of your talents connects with your passions? Yes, you really can do what you love and love what you do, so that it seems like a hobby rather than a job. If financial necessity is the motivation for your next work phase in retirement, then make it a job that matches the aspects of your past career that you enjoyed doing and for which you want to be hired. Design a resume targeting your education, experiences, and accomplishments matching your ideal job, and navigate your search toward positions that will offer you confidence and fulfillment.
But who wants to hire an older worker? They are often stereotyped as out of touch, out of date, lacking technical skills, not fitting in with the younger workers, and basically lacking in the ability and energy to do their job. Today, with this large cohort leaving the workplace, there are myths about older workers that should be addressed.
Boomers have many marketable qualities that prove them to be good employees capable of improving customer service, employee morale, and profits. They include: dedication, punctuality, honesty, detail orientation, focus, devotion to the truth, active listening, and excellent communications skills. They take pride in their work and can reduce labor by working part time, as a consultant, a contract worker, or an entrepreneur. They are intrinsically motivated to ensure a job is done well.
How can you use your pre-retirement or early retirement years to plan for your next vocation?
- Conduct assessments of your interests, skills, values, experience, education, and accomplishments. Start focusing on your strengths, what you know, and what you have to offer the employer. Design a Summary of Qualifications for your resume with skills and major accomplishments that you want to apply in your future work.
- List the times you have been flexible and adaptable through restricting, downsizing, and reorganization to show you are not resistance to change. Prepare to discuss these situations in an interview.
- Make a to-do list and list all methods to locating a job, breaking each step into a strategic job search plan that you can check off when you finish. You will feel good about yourself and will give yourself credit for the progress.
- Make looking for a job your full-time job.
- Consider volunteering or getting an internship as a way to maintain or increase your skills and minimize resume gaps.
- Keep up-to-date in your chosen field. Read trade publications; attend workshops, conferences, and meetings of professional organizations. Share your own knowledge with others as well through in-person meetings, online discussion forums, or blogging. This will help with networking later on.
- Sharpen your skills. Take some technical or online-based classes to upgrade your skills. This is especially important if you are considering a career change.
- Use social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter allow you to network, demonstrate your expertise, and indicate that you are at least somewhat technically savvy.
- Revise your resume, prepare for behavioral interviews, and launch your strategic job search with the confidence and assurance that you have a lot to offer to the workforce.
- Become an entrepreneur or consider consulting or contract work in your field or even at your previous employer if you are willing to work for salary only.
But what about appearing over qualified? Older workers should ask questions of the interviewer that show respect and openness to new ideas and opinions. Be sure to do your research and emphasize only your experience that matches the needs of the position. Match your skills and accomplishments to the needs of the opening and target the interview to prove why you are the perfect candidate for the job. Don’t brag or give examples that show over qualification and an apparent lack of ability to fit in and be a part of the team. Also, research the salary range for the position and do not mention your current or most recent salary if it is significantly higher than what the employer is offering.
How do you successfully interview with a younger person? Keep in mind that many younger workers are not hierarchical, and they are not impressed by age, seniority or years on the job. Discuss your accomplishments without arrogance for their youth and relative inexperience. Don’t emphasize numbers of years of experience. Focus on your best qualities and the overall value of the richness of your experiences. Younger managers also are more casual in their interactions and tend to network and connect effortlessly. Show off your energy, enthusiasm, and positive attitude in an interview. Demonstrate that you are flexible and adaptable with success stories. Don’t attribute a layoff to age bias or allow yourself to believe that no will hire someone your age.
What if you need or want help? There are a variety of options available for assistance such as online programs, face to face career counselors/coaches, networking with others who have retired, and reading and exploring the ways in which your dream job could make a difference in your life and in others’, as well as in the organization that employs you.
As career counselors we can review resumes and analyze accomplishment stories to identify transferable skills that today’s hiring managers need. Our role with seasoned clients is to identify their experiences and accomplishments that were both attained over many years and came naturally. We help clients see themselves as marketable assets because of their skills, experience, and accomplishments that many young people do not have. We assist clients in moving forward by helping them realize that doing an outstanding job is not average and that they are very marketable for their future!