Many potential retirees are postponing retirement and some are job hunting.
Employers find the “boomer” resume a mixed message: many years of experience, but someone who may be on the verge of retirement. For many older job seekers, finding themselves back pounding the pavement is difficult, scary and frustrating.
The good news: Your decades of experience are highly valuable and many companies need it badly (particularly small companies).
If you are a boomer needing (or wanting) to work, consider these optimistic statistics. Almost a third of companies surveyed are concerned about their loss of “intellectual capital” with retiring boomers. One out of five indicate they are likely to rehire retirees from other companies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a serious shortage of highly skilled workers and experienced managers and executives. Career experts claim knowledge workers are in high demand. Companies, though slow to get on board, are increasingly identifying the shift in workers’ relative age (I’m told 50 is the new 40) and are adjusting HR policies and hiring strategies.
I regularly coach senior managers on their challenges associated with finding and retaining “experienced resources.” Many have a worried eye on upcoming and current leadership gaps in their companies. I also coach seasoned professionals trying to find best fit positions and figure out their next move in this economy. From the two sides of the coin vantage, I offer these suggestions:
- Assess first. What are your core talents, skills and value to a business? Discern what you want in a job, both your must-have and would-be-nice- to-have lists. Be realistic about your energy, salary/benefit requirements and your commitment level to the prospective job. Employers need to be realistic, too. Starting salary levels aren’t applicable to those with decades of professional experience.
- Identify and target industries that need your experience. Consider health care, temporary staffing agencies, retail and nonprofits; a Bridgespan Group study claims nonprofits will need some 640,000 new senior leaders over the next 10 years. Check out companies that have specifically declared their desire to hire older workers (RetirementJobs.com and the AARP are good resources). While many larger companies choose to target younger, less expensive labor (and have identified their costs associated with turnover as acceptable), many smaller companies can’t afford significant hiring mistakes. They are in need of experienced workers, particularly those with proven management and leadership skills. Of note: Small businesses in the U.S. have generated 60 percent to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade, according to SCORE.
- Customize your resume for each position. Despite your decades of work experience, include only 10 to 15 years of your relevant experience for the position you are targeting. Use your resume to provide proof of quantifiable results. This will get their attention and get you an interview.
- Be prepared to demonstrate that old dogs can learn new tricks. These days, job security and continual learning go hand in hand. Potential employers are looking for individuals who demonstrate a willingness to embrace continual change and keep up with changing skill requirements. Upgrade your skills. Finish that degree, master new technical skills (techno literacy is critical in today’s job market) or complete a certificate program.
- Network, network, network. Mid- to senior-level positions are rarely filled via job ads. Most employers prefer to hire referrals from internal employees, professional colleagues or through their recruitment channels. Let your long list of contacts over all these years know what kind of work you are seeking. Use Linkedin.com or risk looking “old school.”
- Consider freelancing or contract work. More good news — more companies than ever use outside contract work.
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