While writing last week’s post on seniors and happiness, I was reminded of a recent conversation I had with a retiree—a 68-year-old “snowbird” who winters at a senior living community in Florida. He retired almost 10 years ago from teaching high school, and since then, he has been working 6 months of the year as a part-time starter at a beautiful golf course in New England. He chuckled and said he’s “the happiest man in America making $8 an hour.”
According to a 2013 survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, approximately 80 percent of people in the U.S. workforce who are over age 50 say they plan to work after “retirement.” For some, it is a necessity in order to stay afloat financially. For others, it is a choice borne out of a desire to stay active and engaged, both mentally and physically.
Retirees make attractive job candidates for many companies. They have decades of experience to bring to the table for prospective employers, they are dependable and hardworking, and many are working by choice because they want to find a meaningful way to continue to contribute to the world around them (versus someone who just wants a paycheck).
Among the seniors who remain in the workforce after retirement, some are looking for ways to continue to apply the education, experience, and skills they acquired over their career, but many are opting to pursue a completely new line of work from what they did for a large portion of their adult life.
Tapping seniors’ skills
The so-called “encore career” movement is gaining popularity as many Baby Boomers who reach retirement realize they still have a lot of living left to do (literally and figuratively).
An organization called Civic Ventures, founded in San Francisco in 1997, coined the term “encore career,” and they have since renamed themselves Encore.org. The organization looks for ways to harness seniors’ talents and vast experience to improve society. They offer resources to help connect seniors who are interested in finding meaningful employment with companies and organizations in need of high-quality, experienced employees.
“While many see our aging society as a problem, we view it as a solution,” Encore.org’s mission statement explains. “Those in and beyond midlife represent a powerful source of talent with the accumulated skills, experience, and wisdom to tackle some of society’s most urgent challenges. By embracing this unique opportunity, we can transform a zero-sum prediction into a win-win strategy, creating a better future for generations to come.”
Great options for your encore career
An article in Forbes highlighted three areas that are ripe for those seeking an encore career.
Not-for-profits: With 1.4 million non-profits operating in the U.S., it is easy for retirees to find an organization representing a cause that they are passionate about. While just about any non-profit would welcome volunteer assistance, many also have paid administrative positions and are looking for talented, dedicated employees to fill those roles. While they may not be high-paying jobs, working for a non-profit can make for an exciting, meaningful encore career.
Healthcare: As the population grows older, the healthcare sector is growing larger. Yes, there are boundless opportunities for retirees with career experience in the medical field, but there are also many roles that don’t require you to have an M.D. or R.N. after your name that can still allow you to help others and contribute to a vital industry.
Coaching: No, this isn’t referring to sports. Coaching in this context is about helping others discover ways to live their best, most productive life, and it’s a fast-growing industry. Becoming a life or career coach typically does require training and credentialing from an organization like the International Coach Federation (ICF), but it can be a great option for an encore career. Retirees are able to take their lifetime’s worth of experience and translate it into practical steps to help their clients find their own success.
Adventure at any age
Interestingly, a study conducted by Encore.org in 2014 found that among soon-to-be retirees interested in pursuing an encore career, a majority were interested in a new type of role (instead of continuing in their current profession). So, while more traditional job roles can definitely offer immense satisfaction, some retirees are choosing to look for an even more unique line of work for their encore career.
CoolWorks.com is a job board connecting adventurous job seekers with employers around the world. When the site originally launched in 1995, founder Bill Berg assumed he’d be attracting young adults in the market for a fun summer job during college or who were looking for an adventure before entering the “real world.” But much to Berg’s surprise, a large portion of his site’s job seekers were in fact retirement-age!
From working on a dude ranch in Wyoming to bartending in Costa Rica, more and more seniors are looking to begin a new adventurous chapter in their life as they enter their retirement years, and websites like CoolWorks can facilitate that quest. Many of the jobs are entry level, i.e., pay little more than minimum wage, but some employers do provide perks like low-cost or free housing or food discounts.
How CCRCs are accommodating working seniors
There was a great article in Senior Housing News on the growing popularity of encore careers among residents of continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs, also known as life plan communities). The article, entitled Providers Prepare for the Next Big Thing: Working in Retirement, explores three of the key ways that CCRCs are encouraging and facilitating this trend:
- Providing residents with transportation to off-site workplaces
- Offering job opportunities within the organization for residents
- Creating shared as well as private work spaces within the CCRC campus (complete with secure Wi-Fi access)
These types of initiatives and accommodations by CCRCs facilitate residents’ pursuit of an encore career, contributing to their overall personal happiness and satisfaction with their senior living community.
A job you love
For many Baby Boomers, retirement isn’t about sitting around and playing bridge while you collect your monthly Social Security and pension checks. For those who desire to remain active and in the workforce, an encore career in an opportunity to continue a career you have loved—though perhaps with a less rigorous schedule—or to pursue an entirely new interest. Whichever path you choose, there are numerous resources available online. A few to check out: