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Help Wanted: Seniors Need Not Apply (And How to Overcome That)

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

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 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.

Job Tactics
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.

Networking time
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

Posted by Admin on February 9th, 2016


  1. I came from a Research & Development background and was laid off from one job after 18 years and another after 4 years. So at age 58 I had to start looking for a job again. I tried to reinvent myself and was interested in pursuing an Administrative Assistant job. There was a job advertised at Kohl’s in my town. They were opening a new store and had such a position advertised. I applied on line and they set up an interview time and it was at another Kohl’s store a town away from where I live. I went to a website called Glassdoor and looked up Kohl’s and interview questions. I wrote them all down and tried to think about my answers. This had to be the MOST bizarre interview ever! So they had about 5 of us in a hallway with a clipboard and asked us to fill out the paperwork. Once filled out they took the clipboards. Then they herded us all into a room filled with chairs. We all take a seat. There were two women at the front of the room and they proceeded to ask one of the candidates questions and all the questions were exactly word for word I found on Glassdoor. Then they would go to the next candidate and ask the same question. This was not a private interview but a group interview! It was the most unprofessional interview process I have ever been through! At the end they dismissed all but two of us. I was offered a job but some kind of Customer Service job. There is no way I wanted that kind of a job and so I said no thank you and left. I would highly recommend Glassdoor as a resource to investigate companies, but not all companies are listed. I would also recommend going to the company’s website and research the mission statement and what the company makes or does so when interviewed you can ask questions about the company.

    by Louise — February 10, 2016

  2. I’m retired and not looking for a job but I’ve noticed that my local Home Depot has a lot of seasoned employees. If your are just looking for a part-time job or something to supplement your retirement, your local hardware store may be a good place to look into. It probably wouldn’t be the place for those wanting a regular full-time position because they were laid off from a higher-paying job.

    by LS — February 10, 2016

  3. I’m 2x’s retired. Military and now on SSI. Found my part time current job by word of mouth while getting a massage. Keeping your eyes and ears open at all times is necessary.

    I am currently getting ready to move completely out of the area I am in and so have begun a long distance search via the e-edition of the local paper and online. Have applied for one job and didn’t get it. They had someone that was already in the area apply and they got the job. I am also keeping my hand in business with direct sales, and when I get to my new location plan on volunteering at the local chamber to begin the job search in earnest.

    My husband after he had 2 strokes in his 50’s, lost his job because he couldn’t drive for a year. When he went to unemployment, they said they would train him… lol… they were train him for what he was already doing! He reinvented himself. Started doing computer repairs at home and made a decision his target market was seniors on fixed income… only charges per problem, not hour. He was able to do this because he worked from home and had no overhead costs…. just his time. He never advertised, and has a thriving word of mouth referral business. He will be starting over when we move, too. Fortunately, we have a couple of friends where we are moving so that will help get the word out.

    The number one way I know to get a job is getting involved in the local committee so that you can hear when there are job openings, and the people already know you are reliable from your volunteer work.

    by KathyO — February 10, 2016

  4. Hi I am DeyErmand’s wife. I found this a great article that I agree with fully. Wish I could of read it 3 years ago! I found myself “let go” a year before I obtained 30 years in a company that would of had to pay me a pension at retirement. They called it “reorganization”. Now my husband’s is facing the same situation where he works.

    That being said, I don’t really expect to retire, even if I am? ??not ?able to find a job. I plan to keep working as long as I am physically able with good health. Contrary to what many employers think, age is just a number. My age does not define my ability, negate my work experience, or reduce my dedication to the job at hand.
    So what if I am competing with the younger generation, highly skilled, well-educated and more cost-effective applicants. Do they have my work ethnics, references or my stay ability? No. Do I care if my boss is younger? A little, but I am young minded and active with the younger generation, volunteering in them areas.
    I am willing to take a big pay cut in a new job, and work up the ladder again so my new employers won’t fear that my being an older worker will be less satisfied and inclined to quit when a better opportunity arises.
    If the company provides health insurance, I know older workers are more expensive to insure. I can let them know in the interview I am insured under my spouse.
    I have also been told in an interview, once you reach the age of 55?, ? Workman’s Compensation Insurance to the employer takes a huge leap in cost? to the company!? I didn’t get that job!
    I am not going to get discouraged and depressed or become short-tempered?. That is not the reflection I want an employer to see in an interview. I have been a displaced worker for a few years, after a job with a single employer within a single industry. I faced it and did some reinventing of myself.
    I am improving my employment prospects by updating my skills through volunteering and college classes. I am also self-employed which fills in the gaps on my resume. I keep care to notice what younger workers are wearing, and news on what they are interested in with the current trends. It hasn’t been easy, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will be prepared. Deborah

    by DeyErmand — February 10, 2016

  5. And I thought age discrimination was illegal! It happens all the time. As we have been on the job longer we are more expensive to the company, even the Fedral Government.
    After my last full time job, I started working as a relief pharmacist. This might equate to signing up with a temporary agency for other fields. I have had some fascinating experiences and continued to make the money I needed until social security kicked in. And I didn’t take much of a pay cut. Oh, and my other edge is that I live and work in an isolated rural area where younger ambitious workers are not willing to live, so I have less competition. So my suggestion for others is to look outside the metro areas and to sign up with temporary agencies.

    by Lulu — February 10, 2016

  6. Not sure how many of you out there do handyman stuff but my girlfriend lives in a Mobile Home (MH) park in Michigan and on occasion she needs some kind of repair or renovation to her unit. She has a guy who can do just about anything and is raking in the money! He cleans her furnace each year and put in a new one for her last year. She had a water leak and it ruined her kitchen floor and he did the renovations. She had a new deck built with a small privacy wall put up. He shingled her roof. He has replaced her kitchen sink and done some bathroom repairs. On top of that, he has a few guys that mow lawns and shovel snow in the winter. He has also been under her mobile home and put new heat tapes and insulation underneath. He has also had to fix her skirting around the MH several times when the wind gets crazy. This is to give you an idea of things this guy does and is flat out busy! If some of you who are talented in any of these handyman activities, all you need to do is to put out some fliers at a MH park and hopefully you will start to get some calls. A lot of calls are emergency calls so keep that in mind. When someone has a water line break in their MH it is urgent you get there! The guy is honest and offers fair prices too. She has told her other neighbors about him and he is getting business from them too. The park is huge so he will not run out of work!

    by Louise — February 10, 2016

  7. Oh, I forgot to mention, some states require a handyman license so check with the state you live in. They are not expensive and I don’t think you have to be tested either. Insurance is always a good idea. Probably should get some legal advice on how to set up a small business.

    by Louise — February 10, 2016

  8. Has anyone considered becoming an Uber driver? Make your own hours!

    by Eileen — February 10, 2016

  9. I just came upon this site. I’ll tell you, the health industry is one that is growing. SO many people wanting massage. Skin Care. Of course school and license is needed. But it pays itself off in no time, and you can work for yourself. Also get the treatments for free. When in school, it’s I work on you, and you work one me. A two way deal. Than, after graduation, we have many therapist willing to exchange with someone and keep keep our health in good form.

    I have a friend, 70 years, retired, he is making tons of money as a massage therapist . I hope this helps. Have I mentioned that there are more than 200 modalities in massage.

    Also check this site on touch. The Touch Institute in FL. It will go in details how powerful it is. It benefits so many people. Good Luck!

    by Sandra — February 10, 2016

  10. At times you cannot get past the initial application process ! Oftentimes the application *must* be made through either the company’s or the placement agency’s web portal. There are red asterisks alongside data entry boxes. These red asterisked questions are those you MUST answer….not optional…and if you don’t, the application goes no further and is thrown out. So….these questions may be encountered as follows:
    – Year you graduated from high school….. as if we are all that dumb not to see that this is the back-door way to age discrimination.
    – current salary. ( which is a totally irrelevant question. Salary is based on market-driven aspects of the job balanced against the candidate’s qualifications, education and experience. What you do now…and what salary you make now….has no bearing on all this, as a new applicant to a new job)..
    – expected minimum salary.
    I must say …getting to be a senior-age person is not a good place to be when angling for a job. All the more reason ( at least for senior professionals) to enter the marketplace as independent consultants…as I have. That said, this is a roller-coaster ride as to variability of income based on the work you can land….such that going for employment status still has some draw. I’ve tried this route to employment, and found it to be very discouraging and disheartening. All the more-so when you are advised to enter a field where you had no direct experience to broaden your chances, by being prompted to try anyway to promote your “transferable skill sets”. The sad truth is no one wants to “risk” taking you on or such a position where you had no direct experience, as there are enough folks who HAVE such experience competing against you …and even more because of your age. Altogether….a non-starter and very discouraging.

    by Wil Ferch — February 10, 2016

  11. In addition to human massage, there are courses in small animal and large animal massage. I have heard some people rent space at Veterinarian offices, doggie day care or at grooming salons for dogs. Massage can help for rehabilitation (back, hip), arthritis and other dog or cat ailments. Plus, massages are done on horses and livestock.

    by Louise — February 10, 2016

  12. Previously posted comments are on point – network, network, network ! Get a LinkedIn account. Take a look at As well, and are worth a look. Instead of focusing in full time roles, use your expertise to consult or to work for a firm as a contractor. Those situations take advantage of your experience and avoid the age bias – and could lead to a full time situation.

    Good luck

    by Dave — February 10, 2016

  13. When I got laid off from my job of 18 years I was trying and applying to anything that remotely seemed like something I could do. Well, had some interviews but didn’t get a job. Then I took a job with a temp agency. It was a desk job and did some data entry. At first it seemed challenging because I was taking numbers from one data base to transfer to another but after a few days it was a breeze. I was working 40 hours a week and I got so good at the job I could do the job in 20 hours! I asked them if they had something else for me to do because I had finished what they gave me and they said no. So because I needed the money I dragged this 20 hour job to 40 hours and let me tell you my week seemed like a month! I worked there for 5 months and even called my agency to ask them to find me something else but that fell on deaf ears. They were making money on me and didn’t want to take me off that job. Finally the Manager at the company gave me 2 weeks notice and thanked me profusely for doing such a good job! LOL! He even offered to give me a good recommendation when searching for full time employment! I was so glad that job was finished! Oh, and because I was a temp, no one would really talk to me. Steer clear…she’s a TEMP!

    by Louise — February 10, 2016

  14. I remember my Dad reaching his 60s with his employer of 40 years, and coming home stressed and depressed because he felt that he was suddenly no longer viewed as a great performer, and his managers were so much younger and less qualified He elected to retire because he felt he was being forced out, and it took him months before he found joy in life again. He had been a “company man,” who had truly loved his company from his first day of work there after WWII ended. Now I am looking around my workplace, and see few people left who are in their 60s. Layoffs and restructurings somehow seem to always have had a much greater effect on the older employees. I think most older employees believe age discrimination in the workplace is alive and well, and the only thing the EEOC has succeeded in doing is training employers how to hide it. I can’t remember the last time my company hired anyone in their 60s. The job descriptions always seem to ask for a maximum of 15 years experience. Having seen my Dad’s and an older sibling’s experiences (he was laid off at 62 when his job was eliminated, and a year later the job was re-created and filled by a 30 year old), I tried to prepare myself for job loss anytime after age 60. Sure enough, we’re hearing strong rumors of a restructurng coming that will eliminate the jobs held by the remaining older employees. I’m disappointed, but not surprised. It will mean a less comfortable retirement, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to retire on what I had saved in anticipation of involuntary job loss. I’ve worked in a very high-stress professional job, and am glad I’ve made it this far (63). I don’t think I’ll try to pursue other employment, even though I haven’t reached full retirement age. I’m tired…so tired.

    by Kate — February 11, 2016

  15. When I lost my last job of 4 years by lay off, there were a total of 5 of us. Four of us were in our 50’s and they threw in a 20 year old part timer. Within my severance package paperwork there was a form that listed each employee by title, not name and by what department they worked in. The paper also gave ages of every employee. I have a feeling that this might be something they have to submit to the labor board. I find it interesting that they threw in the 20 year old to make it look as if they were not targeting older employees.

    Kate I feel your pain. I loved my professional jobs and it has taken me years to accept that that part of my life is over. At least you made it to 63 and if you get laid off can collect Unemployment for around 6 months. Then think about Social Security or something else.

    My Husband’s company offered a package to any employee who wanted to take it. No holds barred. He worked there 20 years and was beyond burned out. He worked in Facilities Maintenance doing HVAC. He took the package and ran! He took a job with our school system thinking it would be less stress and it was somewhat. Except when he found out that the previous HVAC guys had not done their jobs and the systems were dirty and causing kids and teachers to get sick. He was furious. His boss was somebody’s cousin who then hired all his relatives to be custodians. It was a good old boy system. My Husband couldn’t stand the atmosphere. He worked there a couple of years and quit to go to another company that produced HVAC equipment. He managed to work there 9 years then retired last year at age 63.

    This is a good one too. My girlfriend was in banking for over 10 years, took a package they offered then went onto other employment for another 10 years. She quit to move out to another State where he son lives. She applied for a teller job in the new State at a bank and they told her she didn’t have enough experience! WHAT??? Or could it be she was in her 50’s when she applied?

    by Louise — February 11, 2016

  16. While searching online for an administrative job for my son yesterday, I came across an unusual vacancy announcement. It immediately caught my eye because it stated that you must be 55+ to be considered. It was from a senior outreach program in Dallas. Is this reverse age discrimination?

    by LS — February 12, 2016

  17. Websites to help Seniors in job search:

    by Louise — February 12, 2016

  18. Louise – what a great web site! So many resources, I don’t know where to begin. Thanks for posting!

    by Linda — February 12, 2016

  19. Glad to help!

    When I was unemployed there were educational opportunities thru the Department of Labor (unemployment office). You can find it on their website and they will pay for certain training programs. One course that I was a bit interested in was a culinary course to become basically a kitchen cook. It is like a mini chef program and you complete it in about 12 weeks and I believe they helped you get an internship too. I spoke with the director of the program and it was completely free if approved by the Department of Labor(DOL) . I think the course was about $5,000. There are a lot of programs but I have no idea how much they will pay. For instance, they had Beautician schools and the tuition for the entire course could have been $17,000. I don’t know if they pay all of it or some of it. You would need to talk to the DOL. There are lots of training programs. I live in CT and don’t know what other States offer. I am sure you must meet some kind of eligibility to get the funds to train.

    by Louise — February 12, 2016

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