With job growth accelerating, many small businesses are hunting for talented, experienced and affordable hires. And, increasingly, many are finding this skill set among retired Baby Boomers, who want to head back to work—either full-time or part-time—in a second or “encore” career.
In fact, Encore.org, a nonprofit that provides resources to make it easier for people to pursue jobs with meaning and continued income in the second half of life, has found that 9 million people, ages 44 to 70, are already working in such careers, and that 31 million more are interested.
Why Boomers are Working Through Retirement
Boomers are working through retirement for a host of reasons: extra income, sometimes to replenish diminished retirement accounts; boredom with another round of bridge or golf; desire for a new challenge; a chance to help others once they’ve achieved many goals and raised children; and a way to connect face-to-face with others.
“The ability to use their brains and be around others is something a lot miss once they retire,” says Allison O’Kelly, founder and CEO of the Marietta, Ga.,-based staffing firm Mom Corps, which helps senior-level employees and companies meet flexible work schedules.
Top Reasons Boomers are Worth Bringing on Board
So what’s in it for small businesses? The country’s 78 million Boomers make up the “largest, healthiest, best-educated population of Americans,” says Encore.org. Neither young nor old, these older workers have honed a variety of skills over time and can represent an extraordinary resource for businesses:
- Experience. Many possess transferable talents and don’t require additional training or supervision to get the job done.
- Income. The income requirements may be less demanding for those with grown children, paid-off mortgages or benefits from former employers.
- Flexibility. Many workers view late-in-life work as a way to use their skills in a new way, or a chance to network and interact with others, so they may be more flexible about unconventional assignments, schedules or other job aspects as a result.
- Focus. Boomers typically aren’t juggling the task of raising young children along with work, leaving them free to focus on work as job No. 1.
- No entitlement. They don’t turn off peers and clients by acting entitled, a trait inherited from their Greatest Generation parents, says leadership coach Leslie G. Ungar of Electric Impulse Communications in Akron, Ohio. What they seek most is respect, he says.
- Loyalty. Because many workers held jobs at the same workplace for decades, they often are content to stay put rather than look for the next, best job, says career transition expert Sally Haver of The Ayers Group/Career Partners International, a human resources consulting firm.
- Emotional intelligence. They interact well with co-workers due to rich life experiences, from raising children to getting divorced, and being around the block, says Thomas J. Walter, CEO of Tasty Catering, in Elk Grove, Ill., which employs many Boomers.
- Manners. They understand the value of customer service—how to answer a phone with, “Good morning,” rather than, “Hey,” says Walter.
- Resilience. When problems arise, their years of life experience frequently mean they remain calm and patient and help to resolve dilemmas, Walter says.
How to Find Retired, Job-Hunting Boomers
While many can be found through traditional career sites like CareerBuilder or LinkedIn, others can be tapped through nonprofit organizations where they volunteer, specialized career services focusing on older workers, Chambers of Commerce, business networking organizations like BNI, college alumni associations, community colleges that help them master new skills and houses of worship. Encore.org offers additional resources.