Tuesday, February 16, 2010

60-year-old job seeker

I am 60 and looking for a job! (Don’t worry – my boss and co-workers know, so I’m not letting any cat out of the bag here.) After five years in this position, I’m finding myself ready to apply my expertise in a new environment. According to the latest report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I will be one of 9.3 million people leaving a permanent job.

My reaction to looking for a new job is one of excitement mixed with hesitancy. I am excited because a new job usually means meeting new people, sharing new ideas and developing or refining skills. The hesitancy is a natural response to leaving familiar surroundings, people and work assignments. Once I put those two emotions aside I have to ask myself some hard questions.

1.) Do I want to work and do I have to work to live comfortably? The answer to both those questions is “yes.” I am up to another challenge and I do wish to embrace it.

2.) What is my exact reason for working?
The most important aspect while seeking a job is to have your priorities straight. When I was younger I followed my husband and created jobs. After the divorce there was only one priority, my son. I worked hard so I could continually climb the ladder which allowed me to pay for necessities. That time has passed and now I work for my future.

The reason many of my fellow Baby Boomers work is health insurance. Many of my friends who originally thought they would retire at 60 or 65 years of age have stayed on the job for another five to 10 years so they could maintain their health insurance. While I want to work, I have to work at a job that comes with health insurance and a pay that allows me to save for my 70s and 80s.

3.) What is it I want to do for a living? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would pay me to read what I wanted to and report or teach it to the world? I read one job ad where you preserve park land by traveling through a remote area by hiking, horseback or rafting. I said to myself – “That is the job for me…25 years ago.” Another job that caught my eye was Project Director for Scientists in Antarctica. At this stage in my life I want to spend time with family and friends – none of whom live in Antarctica -- plus my pug dog was not welcome.

As a practical matter, I know I want to do something that benefits others who are in need. I have worked with all ages, but I do like working with or on behalf of older adults ages 60 and older. I also know I want each day to be adventurous in some manner. Maybe I will have to spice up my personal life!

4.) Location, location, location. I have moved all my life...New Jersey to Florida to Alaska back to Indiana to New York to Wisconsin and the list goes on. Moving does not phase me, but I would like to build new relationships and social connections during my last 10 years of working that will follow me into my third life. So, it would be nice to make wherever I land my “aging in place” home.

5.) What is my salary range and am I willing to take a pay cut?
According to a 2009 AARP article, there are more than 16 million people unemployed and an estimated 3 million job openings. This translates into an oversupply of labor and can mean lower wages. Is any income better than no income?

Personally, that decision depends on too many variables to come up with a stock answer. At this time, I would say “No.” My job search to date tells me that there are jobs out there that I am interested in and qualified for that do not require me to take a lower paying job. If you want health care insurance, you pay the same as the person making a higher wage so you have less to live on or put away in savings.

Now with a better sense of my priorities and the excitement of an adventurer, let the search begin!

Helen Dillon
Helen Dillon
Project Director


Dale Carter said...

I love your post! I am on my third career (after 25 years in technology at a university, another year in consulting) with my own business. It takes soul-searching and courage to make the choice to leave and then find the right next career, but it is so empowering and fulfilling!
Best wishes to you on your journey,
Dale Carter

Ron said...

Best of luck in your new career. You are blessed to be able to continue working. Many wishes!

Anonymous said...

You're lucky you have a job. Many of use are looking for jobs. Good luck.

Diana said...

What are some of the chances for a 60 year hard working person who works hard and can only get a temp job? My husband does not get any benefits, vacation or sick leave. He never misses work and always works when other workers do not the job. But when it comes to hiring him they alway tell him the company has taken another route. Sometimes he does not work for weeks and I am 55 years and can't find a job. Need some help?

University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community said...

@Diana -- Sounds like you are pretty frustrated. Check with your state's Department of Workforce Development. In Indiana (where we are located), the DWD operates "Work One" centers that provide classes and workshops to help job seekers of all ages. You can get help with a resume or on brushing up some skills. Local community centers may offer similar services. Best of luck to you.

Bruce Morgan said...

As I approach 60, I find less and less opportunities. Working in graphic design and marketing and communications for 19 years, I found and still find that I can work circles around people half my age. At 58, I am working on my master's in Integrated Marketing Communications. I have young ideas but the youngsters won't hire me. I have applied for at least five marketing jobs at IU but have not even been interviewed. My passion is for all things communication but am starting to believe it is a misplaced passion. How do I convince companies that hiring me is an asset when I can't even get an interview. Too young and able to be a Walmart greeter. :)