You started your career working in construction. After 20 years, the physical demands of the job became too difficult so you transitioned to a management position at a local manufacturing plant. A decade later, the company outsourced all positions. Now in your 60s, you’re not quite ready to retire but you’re also having a tough time finding work. You’re struggling with what many other older individuals face — aging out of the workforce.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a blue or white-collar worker, when you get to a certain age, job-hunting rules seem to change. Options often narrow significantly once you surpass 55, and if you don’t have an education, opportunities can be microscopically thin.
Why not just retire, then? For many, it’s not that simple. Lots of aging workers lack adequate retirement funds. Unlike previous generations they don’t have pensions, and unfortunately the recession hit their savings hard. Even if money is not a concern, though, some older workers want to stay busy via satisfying work.
For this demographic, finding a job and getting a respectable salary are two crushing obstacles. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recently published a brief titled, “How Job Options Narrow for Older Workers by Socioeconomic Status.” It references research that found, “Occupations that require extensive training, computer use, numerical aptitude, and union membership were less open to older job-seekers.” What’s more: “…hiring was concentrated in ‘old person’ occupations: low-paying, low-status jobs, such as night watchman, retail clerk, or crossing guard.”
Old-person occupations. Ouch.
What can older workers do to uncover hidden opportunities so they can find a job they not only enjoy, but one where they can earn a decent wage? These five ideas will help give you an edge in the job market.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Your personal and professional networks are your top resources for finding a job at an older age. Tap your resources and spread the word you are looking for work. Organic job search methods like this are incredibly effective.
Re-frame aging conversations
You score an interview with a supervisor who is half your age. Rather than stress about the generational difference, address age head-on. Speak about how long you’ve worked in the field and give examples of how that experience will directly benefit the organization.
You have plenty of experience, but are your modern skills sharp? You don’t have to go back to college, but it’s important to update important skills. Consider professional certifications or community education courses to give yourself an edge.
Seek telecommuting positions
Not finding job opportunities where you live? Don’t be limited to your location. Search for jobs on LinkUp.com and use “telecommute” along with your other keywords. The results will show a variety of positions with flexible work arrangements.
Consider freelance or self-employment
Freelance and contract work can provide older workers the flexibility they desire while providing a livable wage. Alternately, if you’re looking for a change, consider self-employment by turning your hobby into a job. If you’re talented at restoring cars or gardening, you may find your skills in high demand.
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