By Marsha Andrews, J.D.
It’s an interesting time for Baby Boomers. Some of us are considering retirement, some have already taken the leap, while others cannot afford to retire and are forced to continue to work.
As we approach retirement age, we start having more meetings with our financial and tax planners to see how or when we should begin to tap the nest eggs we built for so many years. At the time, many of us felt we would never grow old, however, reality hits us when we receive the 50th birthday acknowledgment from AARP. Suddenly, we are a part of a group that we purposely avoided for years. AARP helps recondition our brains by telling us it is ok to be 50 and older. AARP is there to help us welcome the idea of aging and help us prepare for the retirement years ahead.
Some boomers decide to retire, but have no specific plans except to travel, take a college course, or volunteer. Sound familiar? Their travels take them to places they’ve dreamed of; the college course is short lived and volunteering only lasted a few months. What’s next?
Those of us who have embraced the “r” word, may be having difficulty settling in. For one reason or another, we run away from those so-called preplanned, well-structured visuals of how this new phase of life could be. The reality is that retirement has left a void of meaningful daily challenges that a job once filled. Time (that you wished you had more of) becomes more burdensome because you have too much of it, and nothing appeals to you outside of your daily routine. So, again, what’s next? What about re-entering to work force? This may sound like a challenge, however, it is doable.
It’s unfortunate that society does not recognize the value of seniors and their solid contributions to the work force. The so called benefit of being young outweighs the so called burden of growing old. This subtle, yet demonstrative act is called “ageism.” Ageism is the unfair treatment of older people; prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group, i.e. the elderly. It is a major conundrum in the work place. Recent studies have shown that wide spread age discrimination in the work place occurs more often than we may think. These acts range from refusing to promote qualified older employees, to forced retirement. Older workers also carry stereotypical baggage like being too slow, difficult to train, incompetent, unable to adapt to change, and have physical limitations. These are mythical in nature and should be dispelled. Truth is, older workers are highly motivated and employable, with the potential to be valuable assets to both large and small businesses.
Here are some guidelines to follow, when applying and interviewing for a job. Set the stage by telling your future employer that: 1) you are flexible in your availability to work; 2) you would be willing to mentor less experienced staff members; 3) you have valuable experience to bring to the table; 4) you have a strong work ethic; 5) more reliable and loyal; 6) you have a diversity of thought which gives you more objectivity; 7) you have a strong network base of clients and contacts; and 8) you are more productive than most. Moreover, these skills are cost-effective because the training period will be shorter and your background and experience could bring added value to existing projects.
Finally, be prepared. Look for companies that have a mixture of older and younger employees. Can you imagine working there? Most importantly, look for a companies that promote employees from within, should you be offered an entry-level position. The Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens Age 55+ Employment Resource Center is a good resource for assistance with resume and cover letter preparation, for Seattle residents. WorkSource provides the same assistance for King County residents.
Fill the retirement void – become re-employed. Thanks for sharing a senior moment with me. Until next time.