February 10, 2016 — The sad truth is that millions of baby boomers are ending up retired well before their target age, which is usually around 65. In fact a 2015 study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 50% of retirees stopped working earlier than they had planned. Layoffs or health issues are usually the culprit. This usually produces unpleasant results for the newly, and unexpectedly, retired: Four or five years of planned retirement savings don’t happen; and folks have to find a way to live without a steady income. A common result is that 41% of American workers were not too or not at all confident of having enough money for retirement in 2015.
The easy solution would be to find a new job. If only that were easy. But your skills might be outmoded, and the competition from younger folks is fierce. Which leads us to the point of today’s article: we would like to find out what your experiences have been in finding a job late in life. For example, over at Nextavenue.com Kevin Kusinitz wrote a humorous piece about his adventures as a Baby Boomer trying to find a part-time job in retail. The people interviewing him had no idea how to handle an obvious senior citizen actually applying for a job, so they did about everything they could to discourage him.
For the record here are a few basic tactics that might help you overcome ageism in the job market, and put yourself ahead of the competition.
– Have a resume tailored to the job. For example, if the job is in retail, orient the resume as best you can towards your qualifications in that area.
– Find out as much as you can about the company and its competition. You will sound knowledgeable and interested
– Call first. We have a disabled friend who has had a wonderful career in sales. His cardinal rule in any job search he does: call first. He makes an impression over the phone, and then when they see him roll in with his wheelchair he’s gotten by any possible objections
– Being technically savvy is an advantage. You could email your resume to the interviewer, and follow up with your references or an example of your work
– Let the interviewer do the talking. Being a good listener pays dividends
– State that you are flexible about pay and hours. This can eliminate made up objections
– Dress the part. Follow your lead from the dress code you see in the target workforce. You don’t want to come across looking older than you have to
– Target employers with older supervisors. They are much less likely to dismiss you out of hand.
We are hoping that our Members will use the Comments section of this article to provide others with war stories and encouragement. What kinds of jobs have you applied for? Did you encounter obvious age bias? Did you develop some techniques that helped you land a job? Are there certain types of jobs that we baby boomers are more likely to get? What other ideas do you have that might propel you into a job that produces enough income to keep you going? Please share your ideas in the Comments section below.
For further reading
How to Find a Job in Retirement (a series)
The Sharing Economy Might “Lift” You to a Comfortable Retirement