It may not be on the front pages of the papers just now, but it’s a hard reality that the average retirement age in the United States has been creeping higher and higher, to the point where it’s now closer to 67 than 65 – long past the days of summer job searches, and into the phase of life when college savings plans are set up for grandchildren, not children.
Whether you’re exactly 65, or a bit older or younger, there are many reasons to consider remaining in – or rejoining – the workplace:
- Company loyalty. Studies have shown that older workers feel stronger connections to their companies they work for, and genuinely enjoy interacting with both customers and colleagues, but hearsay says that customers also appreciate dealing with mature employees.
- Having a job keeps you connected to the world, and gives you motivation. In the words of Kathi Brown, a knowledge-management specialist with AARP, going to work gives you, “…a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”
- Finances. Staying in the workforce certainly keeps money flowing, whether you need the cash to live or just want extra cash to spoil your spouse, take trips, or help a child pay off their direct student loans.
- Connection. By keeping a job, you stay connected to the goings-on in your community.
With all the benefits of keeping or finding a job as a mature adult, there are still challenges that must be faced:
- Many employers are resistant to flexible scheduling or job-sharing – two strategies that are ideal for older workers.
- Retail can be physically taxing, for those who aren’t accustomed to being on their feet for long periods of time.
- Age discrimination is still a problem – there’s a very low percentage of workers aged 65 and over who have been in their current job for less than two years.
If you are a person of a certain age, and looking for work, what can you do? There are several options. If money isn’t an issue, and you just want to get out of the house and keep your mind moving, consider volunteering at a library or museum, if money is an object, there are job-search sites that offer great help to people of all ages, from the ability to post resumes, to managing the contacts you already have and helping you build broader networks – it’s never too late to expand your circles, after all.
As well, organizations like AARP offer special programs for mature adults seeking career changes. One such program is their Senior Community Service Employment Program, which works with staffing services to place adjunct faculty and substitute teachers in much of the United States, and they also have a program in partnership with Home Depot, which values the experience older workers can bring.
Finding a new job is more difficult when you’re at or over the traditional retirement age, but not impossible if you take advantage of the services that exist to help.