It’s not enough anymore to know what you want to be when you grow up. You also need to think about what you want to do next, and after that, and then during retirement, too.
Fortunately, a thick brainstorm of a book by Kerry Hannon, Great Jobs for Everyone 50+, can help job-seeking baby boomers — and those right on their heels — find work that, as the subtitle puts it, keeps them happy, healthy and able to pay the bills.
Hannon, a journalist and AARP’s “Job Expert” who also contributes to USA TODAY, starts off the book by extolling the virtues of work, including the sense of purpose it brings. She gently reminds us of the more concrete fiscal incentives for people to stay in the workforce as long as they can:
• Building up retirement savings
• Increasing monthly Social Security payments (up to age 70)
• Delaying tapping retirement funds
• Paying for/receiving health insurance until Medicare kicks in at 65
If you still don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life, thumb through the first half of the book. Here, Hannon offers up listings of “great jobs” geared toward those who have left the traditional full-time job behind. What makes a job great? “For me, it’s something I lose track of time doing,” writes Hannon.
The idea-generating listings are divvied up into categories, such as seasonal jobs, part-time jobs, nonprofit jobs and work-from-home jobs. In each, we meet someone who has successfully transitioned to that particular type of work: the AT&T retirees turned RV bloggers, an executive assistant who screens applicants for life insurance policies, the long-time government employee who drives a limo.
Hannon fleshes out the listings in each chapter with useful and practical information about each job: a description of the work, typical hours, median pay range, qualifications and job-hunting tips. In the “Great Jobs to Ride the Age Wave” chapter, for example, we learn that a “move manager” helps clients who are relocating, typically downsizing to smaller living space. Fees range from $30 to more than $75 dollars an hour, and the job requires knowledge of interior design and an “in” with a local Realtor.
But isn’t it difficult to land work after 50? Although age discrimination is illegal, Hannon writes that AARP surveys indicate that at least 60% of respondees have experienced or observed it in the workplace. On average, she writes, it takes someone age 55 or older three months longer to find a job than a younger person.
All the more reason to start preparing for a second career before you really need one, and Hannon devotes the second, meatier part of the book to “The Great Jobs Workshop.” These chapters cover résumé writing, interview and social media tips and advice for being your own boss and conquering the fear of change. Hannon stresses fighting ageism by keeping up with technology, keeping fit, emphasizing your knowledge base and skills, and losing any chips you might have on your shoulder, to name a few.
It’s a lot of ground to cover, but Hannon’s practical, empowering book is an all-encompassing career resource for older workers in a variety of life situations.
Archer is a freelance writer based in Seattle.