According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1995 and 2007, the number of full-time older workers (65 and older) doubled. They predicted that between 2006 and 2016, workers between 65 and 74 will grow by 83% while workers 75 and older will increase by 84%.
As the full retirement age has crept up in the U.S. over the years, more seniors are in the workforce than ever before. Combine that with a large segment of Baby Boomers hitting their sixties and the recent recession and it’s no wonder the working population is getting older.
Also, today’s seniors are healthier than ever allowing them to work into their late sixties and seventies.
In an AARP survey, both pre-retirees and retirees were asked the reasons they were working in retirement. Their answers are as follows:
|Pre-retirees who plan to Work (%)||Working retirees (%)|
|Desire to stay mentally active||87||68|
|Desire to stay physically active||85||61|
|Desire to remain productive or useful||77||73|
|Desire to do something fun or enjoyable||71||49|
|You’ll need the health benefits||66||20|
|Desire to help other people||59||44|
|Desire to be around people||58||47|
|You need the money||54||51|
|Desire to learn new things||50||37|
|Desire to pursue a dream||32||20|
Pre-retirees tell one major factor to work in retirement:
- Need money: 22%
- Need health benefits: 17%
- Stay mentally active: 15%
- Be productive or useful: 14%
- Stay physically active: 9%
- Help other people: 6%
- Do something fun: 5%
- Be around people: 4%
- Learn new things: 3%
- Pursue a dream: 3%
- Don’t know/Refused: 3%
Features of a Good Job?
What will you look for in a job? Make a list of all the things you liked and didn’t like in your working life. What do you absolutely have to have? What kind of environment can you not work in? Do you want to work with the public? With younger workers?
In the AARP survey of pre-retirees and those working in retirement, the respondents selected these employer features as “very important”.
- Employee opinions are valued
- Working for a company that lets older employers work as long as they want
- Being able to take time off to care for relatives
- Setting their own hours
- Health benefits
Also, what kind of work do you want? Regular employment; independent contractor; self-employed; part time; full time; or seasonal. Knowing this can help you in your next phase: where to work?
Where to Work?
Is there a company in your community you’ve always wanted to work for? Do you have a hobby that employs people in your area? Maybe you’re a woodworker—try your local hardware store. Do you like to be around books? Try the library or bookstores. Make a list of places you think you’d like to work.
Is there a college, community college or university in your town? Try their employment centers or vocational counseling office.
Go to your public library and search the career section for ideas. Your librarian can be a great help here.
Do you want to try a variety of jobs to see what you like? Try an employment agency like Kelly, Adecco, or Robert Half, talk to a placement agent and see what’s out there. They offer jobs ranging from a one-day gig to a 1 year contract.
Many of the above options can be researched, at least initially, on-line. Which brings up another point: if you’re in the dark on using a computer and the internet, take a class from your public library on the basics. Most jobs will require at least rudimentary computer knowledge even if it’s just operating a cash register (which is mostly computers).
Actually, it can be a good idea to build your overall skill set so that you are more marketable. If you have been working a narrow niche most of your professional career, start building your value as a contractor or part-time employee by learning all the skills in the wider niche.
Increasing Senior Work Force
Between 1995 and 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the number of older workers on full-time work schedules nearly doubled while the number working part-time rose just 19 percent. As a result, full-timers now account for a majority among older workers: 56 percent in 2007, up from 44 percent in 1995. In addition, they predict that between 2006 and 2016, workers between 65 and 74 will increase by 74%, and workers 75 and older will grow by 84%.
According to BLS, as of 2018, seniors make up more than 23% of the U.S. labor force, which is more than any other age group. Learn more statistics such as these, as well as information about senior demographics, work, and senior involvement in U.S. society in the Senior Living YouTube video below.
Before diving into your job search, ask yourself what you want from a job. This helps focus your search from the start.
- Do you want to work? Or do you have to work because of financial reasons?
- Do you want or need a part-time or full-time job?
- How much do you need to earn?
- Do you need benefits?
- How flexible are you? Nights and weekends? On-call?
- Are you willing to learn a new industry or job type?
- What don’t you want to do?
- Do you want to work with the public?
- Do you want to have a say in your job?
- Would you consider self-employment?
Also, when was the last time you worked? When was the last time you went on an interview? If you’re a little rusty, that’s ok. You can get ready in no time.
The senior workforce solutions website experienceworks.org has a useful questionnaire on preparing yourself for the job market: “Soft Skills, Character Traits and Personality Traits Desired By Most Employers!” Here’s another great resource for assessing yourself.
These are great tools for evaluating yourself. You’ll:
- Know what you like and don’t like in a job
- Know what your skills and strengths are
- Know where you need improvement
Having thought through this information will help focus your search. Plus, you’ll know yourself better and be able to articulate your answers in an interview.
Use the Web
Because you’ve landed here, you are at least comfortable using the internet. And that’s a great thing, especially when job hunting. First, you’re ahead of most of your peers. According to a Pew Research Center study, “38% of U.S. adults age 65 and older go online, a significantly lower rate of internet adoption than the general population (74%) and even the next-oldest group (70% of adults age 50-64 years old go online).
And there are literally thousands of job resources online. It’s a great place to start to see what’s out there. Try usa.gov as a jumping off point. Also, www.aarp.com has some great information for senior job searchers.
The site RetiredBrains.com has senior job opportunities including starting your own business and working from home.
Since the internet can be overwhelming, you’ll need to get off the computer and out of the house.
Use Staffing Firms
Temporary employment agencies such as Robert Half, Kelly, Adecco, and others are great places to look for senior jobs. These temp jobs can last from a day to six months to a year. And many times, they can turn into permanent employment. A “temp-to-hire position is where the employer agrees to hire the worker after a certain period, if it’s a good fit.
Temp agencies specialize in anything from office work to labor to technology.
The advantage to working for a temp agency is that you can explore and experience different industries and jobs. Just remember the more flexible you are accepting job opportunities, the more opportunities will be thrown your way.
Call an agency to set up a face-to-face appointment. You’ll likely take a computer test assessing your skills, which could include Microsoft Office products as these are most often used in business.
Now is the time to turn that hobby into a business. What do you like doing? What can you start up with little investment? For some, the investment may simply be their time. Others have a specific skill to offer. Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:
Are you good at fixing things? Consider being a handy man or woman. Start your business with friends and neighbors.
Are you a retired teacher who is good with words? Consider starting a blog. Find a topic you love, write about it, and sell advertising on the site. There are also opportunities for tutoring at home or on-line.
Do you like animals? Consider a pet sitting and/or dog walking business. People need their dogs walked during the day while they’re working. And they need in-home care for the dogs when they’re out of town.
Do you collect anything or simply like to shop? Start an eBay business.
Whether you’re after a second career or just looking to work somewhere fun, the senior job for you is out there. And you have more resources than ever before. Assess yourself and your needs and then go for it!