Keep On Working
I hear all kinds of frightening statistics about the future of boomer finances. In one article, they said 4 out of 10 Americans are not able to retire because they have retirement savings of less than $10,000. Even so, there are lots of people who just don’t want to stop working. They enjoy it or are busy teaching younger people the ropes. I personally don’t see anything wrong with boomers working as long as they want. Our contribution to the economy is huge. Some say we are responsible for consuming approximately 50% of America’s products and services. If we retired and cut back on our spending, we’d create a major blow to the economy. People should be begging us to work.
Where To Start
As it stands, Boomers are starting to redesign their work experience. I figure redesigning our work life breaks down into 3 general areas.
1. People are working part time using their current skill package. For example, some are teaching as adjunct professors at colleges. These people have reasonable hours and are stimulated intellectually. They teach what they once did.
2. People re-educating themselves to be qualified for the job that they didn’t pursue in earlier years. These folks may take courses or get certified in new professions. But this is often not enough when it’s time to go out into the job market.
When I was doing a lot of career marketing, I often worked with clients that wanted to change jobs. For example, a man who sold computers for a living wanted to be a high school teacher. He had gone back to college and been certified to teach, but was perplexed about the next move. He said in a frustrated tone, “How can I change careers, all my experience is in selling computers?” We talked about finding his functional skills. These are the skills he developed as a computer salesman. We matched them with those he needed to be a good teacher.
As a computer salesman he had to plan and organize his daily schedule, and he had to keep track of and manage his follow up calls. He spent most of his time educating, informing and illustrating the value of his product to his customers. He had to be comfortable speaking with people and demonstrating what he was selling. These are all functional skills that teachers use as well. Specifically, teachers plan and organize their lessons, educate and manage groups of kids, inform parents and teachers, and demonstrate skills that students need to acquire. They are the same functional skill package. Even better for boomers, this package can be utilized as a full time teacher or a part time tutor.
For boomers changing careers, once you’ve identified those skills that match your history with your new career ambition, you’ll find it easy to approach people. You’ll be clear about what you have to offer.
3. The third area involves people who have no idea of exactly where they’d like to go. Initially, I would recommend folks in this category to take your functional skills and look for places you’d like to use them. This is the time to do some “information interviewing”. This interviewing is about talking to people who are doing the work you think you might want to do and asking them questions. These questions range from what do they do each day, and what skills they use, to what is the starting salary range.
Another way to find a match between your skills and work is to google ReServe. It places people in nonprofit and public work settings. As a national nonprofit organization, it’s mission is to provide professionals 55 and older with part time service work. They offer long and short term projects. It’s one way to find work that will allow you to give back and get paid for your service.