top of page

What older workers need to know about finding a job




Q. I am a 64-year-old male looking for my next job opportunity and was encouraged knowing that older workers are now more in demand. I had a significant state position (not in California) and moved to nonprofit work that downsized its staff. I assumed my previous positions would serve me well. Not the case so far. Can you shed some light on this? Any pointers would be appreciated. N.E


Trends often are based on large samples which makes results difficult to apply to a single individual. However, trends do point to opportunities. Let’s start with some encouraging facts. Check the following as true or false.


1. Nearly one in five adults age 65 and older is employed.

True. This is similar to the early 1960s and is partly due to the growth of the 65-and-older population and workforce shortages. 


2. The fastest-growing age group in the labor force would be those aged 55 to 64.

False. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. workforce is the 65- to 74-year-old segment. According to the Pew Research Center, it’s among workers aged 75 and older.


3. Public policies continue to encourage early retirement.

False. Changes to the Social Security system, encourage older adults to delay retirement and continue working according to labor economists.  Raising the age that workers can receive full-time retirement benefits from age 65 to 67 is considered partially responsible.  


4. Bridge jobs are designed for younger workers who want a variety of employment experiences.

False. Bridge jobs usually are for folks who don’t want to fully retire. They may work fewer hours and shift to a less stressful career. They are meant to be temporary. 


Companies are taking a serious look at older workers. According to a Manpower report about one-third of 30,000 employers from 41 countries are “now more willing to hire older adults” tapping a marginalized group. That’s three-quarters of the companies surveyed. This news is encouraging given the labor shortage. However, I have a sense that older workers, considered a marginalized group, are looked at as the last resort when there is no one else to fill positions. They suddenly become employable demonstrating the extent to which ageism is embedded in companies on a global scale.  


In addition to looking for attributes of experience and dedication to the workplace, companies are looking for what they consider one of the top soft skills: learnability, particularly if there are employment gaps. This attribute is judged by looking at a person’s career progression, whether the individual stayed in one role for a long time or if they “leveled themselves up” into other roles diversifying their responsibilities.     


Here are a few tips to consider for the next job opportunity, as suggested by a CNBC story


Identify companies committed to hiring older workers. Check out the AARP Employer Pledge program. AARP also has a jobs board that matches experienced candidates with employers that recruit across diverse age groups. 


Look for clues in the job postings.  Look to see if the company is really age-inclusive. Be aware of words such as “digital natives” in the job description which would exclude older applicants. Check out websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor which can help find out about the company’s employment practices. Also, look for resources offered. For example, the health insurance company Humana has a career site on “jobs after retirement.” 


Ask questions from human resource departments. Get answers about flexible work schedules, opportunities for remote or hybrid work or project-based work. Check out if there are opportunities for team collaboration and learning and development opportunities. Find out how this learning is accomplished beyond online and app-based training. 


Beware of red flags. Check if older workers are featured or included on the company’s website and in their promotional materials. Be aware if you are asked your age when you graduated or other questions where it is easy to figure out your age. 


According to AARP, employers are looking for skills that include the ability to solve problems, adaptability, leadership, creativity and innovation and emotional intelligence. See the AARP website for the Employer Pledge Program and companies that have signed the pledge and their commitment to value experienced workers and more.   

Need a mentor? Consider contacting Score.org which also helps an individual start a business. Additionally, AARP lists nine different websites for work opportunities.


One of the most powerful strategies is networking and word of mouth. According to LinkedIn, 80 percent of professionals consider networking vital to career success. 


N.E., wishing you the best on your job-search journey. And know small acts of kindness can change the world. 


Helen Dennis is a nationally recognized leader on issues of aging and the new retirement with academic, corporate and nonprofit experience. Contact Helen with your questions and comments at Helendenn@gmail.com. Visit Helen at HelenMdennis.com and follow her on facebook.com/SuccessfulAgingCommunity

Commentaires


bottom of page