The picture of retirement has changed drastically. “We absolutely cannot ignore the financial aspect. We are living longer and there is this incredible fear of outliving our money,” says Kerry Hannon, author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work that Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.
“So the more you can continue to contribute and pay your own way and not dip into those retirement accounts, the better off you are going to be.”
Ms. Hannon, a Washington-based jobs expert for the American Association of Retired Persons, has found a ready audience for her book, published by last fall by Wiley. Between 2010 and 2020, people 55 and older are projected to be the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. labour force.
In her regular column for Forbes.com entitled Second Verse, she frequently profiles people who plan to continue to work past traditionally-held retirement ages – whether it means remaining in their current career as a consultant, starting an entirely new occupation, or working part-time or in seasonal jobs.
Ms. Hannon’s book is filled with practical, current advice about qualifications and skills needed for a wide swath of jobs, including nonprofits, education, health care and sales. She also explores why part-time or contract work is worth it.
Financial obligations and unstable economies in both the United States and Canada are factors driving many older workers to keep working, Ms. Hannon says. But the jobs expert hears repeatedly from people 50 and older that they want to do work that is meaningful.
“We all want to just keep active and it sort of feeds into this idea of keeping mentally engaged in the world and in our life and hopefully leaving some kind of legacy of making a difference.”
A recent Bank of Montreal study found that 81 per cent of Canadians plan to keep working into their retirement years. While the top reason was to keep up income, those surveyed also highlighted keeping mentally active as a motivation.
But for those who lose their jobs, take a buyout or opt for early retirement, planning their “second act” can be difficult.
Or, they may have no idea how to go about making a major career change at this stage in life. Ms. Hannon spoke with The Globe and Mail about how older workers can stay relevant and thrive in today’s job market.
Does ageism exist in many workplaces?
I think it’s huge. It’s really still the taboo. Nobody wants to say that. I know so many people in their 50s that just get right down to the wire and they know it’s the expiration date that is not getting them the job.
And it is crazy but this has got to start changing. The older work force is a fact and it is just going to continue so employers are going to have to adjust their attitudes and start making the workplace more conducive to an older worker.
What are some of the ways older people can ensure they are relevant and valuable?
The best way you can fight back is by being up to date on technology. That’s non-negotiable. If you don’t have a social media presence on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Google+, good luck. You need to have a [digital] footprint so people know you have some savvy of how things are done.
By ALLISON DUNFIELD
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