Every month, more than a quarter-million Americans turn 65 — what used to be considered the normal retirement age.
Many will remain in their current jobs. Others will seek out different types of employment. Most will continue to work not just for financial reasons but because they want to remain active, engaged and relevant. Here are some tips on how to go about pursuing a second career after “retirement age.”
When looking at jobs post retirement, one needs to consider a number of factors: financial requirements, what you want to do, your reasons for wanting to continue working and what skills you bring to the table. Jamie Hopkins, associate professor in the Retirement Income Program at The American College, advises retirees to keep themselves employable “by maintaining their job skills, professional networks, and workplace engagement.” Working in retirement part-time can also be a way to “test-drive retirement and figure out what you want from retirement,” she suggests.
More and more retirees seem to be opting for part-time jobs. Recently the AARP came up with a list of the top five best part opportunities for retirees: teacher’s aide, tour guide, convention center staff, blogger and athletic coach/umpire/referee. These jobs are not only plentiful and growing but also are welcoming to experienced older workers.
Kerry Hannon, Jobs Expert for AARP, offers the following suggestions for a successful post-retirement, career, whether full time or part time:
- Network. One of the advantages older workers have is their extensive network. Time has enabled them to meet and develop relations with lots of people. Make full use of that network, Hannon advises. Don’t limit yourself to professional contacts. Your friends, your children, their friends and even your children’s friend’s parents may be able to introduce you to a potential opportunity.
- Stay physically fit. Employers often “judge a book by its cover.” One of the concerns employers have with older workers is that they might not have the physical and mental stamina needed to do the job. Take the time to stay, or get, in shape so that when you are looking for a job you present yourself as vibrant, energetic and fit.
- Demonstrate tech savvy. Even more than stamina, employers worry that older workers will not be comfortable with new technology. Show potential employers that you are up to speed in that regard. If necessary, take some courses, read and learn about relevant technology, and have your children demonstrate the technology that they are using. Have an up to date LinkedIn profile, use the internet to find out about the people you will be meeting and become comfortable with all forms of social media. Being able to talk about current trends in technology will help alleviate any fears an employer might have in that regard.
Robert Bake, president of Copy To Go, suggests retirees consider opening their own business, especially if it involves doing something that they enjoy. After many years of working for various advertising agencies, he started his own business as a freelance copywriter. He was able to generate business from clients whose accounts he had previously worked on, and has managed to add additional clients through referrals.
Whatever you plan on doing in retirement, consultant Paul A. Dillon warns: “Be flexible as things don’t always work out as planned.” Dillon retired from an accounting firm in 2006 to start his own consulting firm providing project management and business development services for professional services firms. That was where he felt he had marketable experience. Due to the onset of the recession however, that venture did not pan out. So he ended up using his business knowledge doing research for a regional business publication, as well as helping them run events. Although he continues to work with them occasionally, he since has built a successful enterprise working with veterans starting their own businesses.
Dillon advises that anyone considering starting a business after retirement begin by “focusing on a niche where they have experience, but remain open to new ideas and opportunities as they come along.”
As increasing numbers of Baby Boomers continue to work into retirement and the economy brightens, employer receptiveness to this source of talented workers will increase. Despite stereotypes that some employers hold, substantial opportunities currently exist for individuals to work longer and have second and even third careers in retirement. Older employees bring advantages that are appreciated by prospective employers if presented effectively.
A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” Mail questions to Lee@employability-expert.com