Lack of savings, rising health-care costs and prolonged life expectancy are forcing more Americans to remain in the workforce for longer than previous generations and re-enter it during their golden years.
A 2013 retirement study from Merrill Lynch revealed more retirees are returning to work for a multitude of reasons, including personal connections, concerns about health care costs and having to support adult children.
Re-entering the workforce, particularly in a new field, can be daunting for older works. There are several things to keep in mind when searching for a second career that may make the process much easier – and even fun.
A Growing Trend
Anyone re-entering the workforce should rest assured they’re not alone. Between 2006 and 2011, the change in employed workers by age group decreased on every level except for those aged 55 and older. According to Merrill Lynch and the Department of Labor, this segment of the population saw an increase of more than 4 million jobs.
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Because of this trend, a crop of websites and resources have become available for older workers looking for work. RetirementJobs.com is designed for those who are seeking part- or full-time work in retirement. With more than one million job-seeking users, the company says it is continues to experience growth.
“Clearly the recession blew everything out of whack for people of all ages,” says Tim Driver, founder of RetirementJobs.com. “Seeing an older individual in the workplace used to be abnormal and now it’s much more common.”
Studies have shown that older workers also tend to be more productive. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that workers between ages 60 and 74 are more productive than their younger counterparts, and companies are beginning to realize the value of senior workers.
‘There’s a vocal minority of employers that see the business benefits of hiring and retaining older workers,” says Driver. “Any company looking to reduce turnover rate usually goes after a mature workforce, since mature workers usually stay three times longer than younger ones.”
Where to Look
There are certain industries specifically looking for workers over age 50, including: retail, elder care, wealth management and customer service.
“Elder care is especially conducive for an older worker because it’s one of the few job categories where there is no age bias,” says Driver. “You’re actually rewarded by being a bit older and being able to relate to your older client. And you have the ability to give back, have a social impact, and experience a personal reward.”
The same goes for the wealth management industry. Most brick-and-mortar banks tend to see older people visiting bank tellers as younger customers bank online or on ATMs. Having older workers behind the counter establishes an instant rapport with older clientele.
Experts say networking is key for older job seekers because it can help find openings that aren’t known to the general public.
“When you’re trying to network, it’s crucial to first come up with a title for what you’re interested in,” says KC Anderson, a career coach and consultant. “This makes it easier to communicate.” When applying to a company, workers need to showcase how their skills and experience fit the employer’s needs.
How to Stand Out
Job seekers of all ages know that it’s no longer just about the resume, it’s also about having an online presence and personal brand. This means having a polished resume, perhaps professionally designed, and a presence on networking sites like LinkedIn.
Image is also plays a role. Those dressed in a suit from the 1970s are less likely to be perceived as “modern” than someone with a more polished, up-to-date look. Having a physically fit appearance and being energetic is also important.
“It’s more costly to insure an older person than a younger person,” says Driver. “You can’t get around that fact. Being fit and having the ability to communicate to the employer that you’re a good value can help you around that fact.”