There’s no shortage of stories on older Americans who have trouble making ends meet. The reality is that millions will have to keep on working during their so-called golden years.
If that’s you, the good news is that there are more options than ever before. The labor market is tight, which means employers more flexible about hiring than they might have been just a few years ago. Competition for labor is also pushing up wages and benefits.
That’s all good, but to me one of the biggest things is that there are more opportunities to work from home than ever before. Think about it: No commuting. No buying new clothes for the office. No sitting in a cubicle listening to co-workers babble. And who microwaved that fish for lunch?
“Our members are excited to be able to work from home,” says Renee Ward, of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Seniors for Hire, which helps older Americans find jobs. “All they need is a phone and a computer.”
Obviously, some jobs can’t be done remotely, but many can. Here are some jobs you can do remotely, as compiled by Lifewire:
• Accountant, bookkeeper
• Administrative assistant
• Auditor, financial analyst
• Computer programmer, software engineer
• Data entry clerk
• Database administrator
• Graphic designer, illustrator, desktop publisher
• Insurance agent
• Marketing planner, media buyer
• Medical transcriptionist, medical reviewer
• Public relations professional, speechwriter
• Researcher, market research analyst
• Sales rep, customer service rep, travel agent
• Telemarketer, telephone order taker
• webmaster, website designer
• Writer, reporter, editor
If you have experience in one of these areas, you may want to consider approaching either your old employer or a competitor and offering your skills. You may find not only a warm welcome, but a willingness to meet your demands on hours (perhaps you only want or need to work a day or two a week) or only until you make X dollars a month. It’s also possible that an employer may give you a new computer to work with, perhaps a cellphone and, depending on the job, an expense account if you need to meet clients. It’s a brave new world and you may be surprised at what you can negotiate.
One thing you may want to ask for is access to the company’s health care plan. Health care spending goes up as we age, and if you can get an employer to pay, that’s obviously a huge financial benefit—and peace of mind to you.
But Ward says that even with labor shortages, it can be difficult for older people to find work.
“Seniors are still not the first choice for employers,” she says, adding that recruiters, who are often much younger, “may still be narrow-minded” and presume that older workers haven’t kept up with technology other forces shaping the 21st-century economy. It’s incumbent upon job seekers to show otherwise—and to also demonstrate that they bring other valuable skills to the table.
Those other skills can blow younger workers—who often lack them—away, says Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based consulting firm.
“Older workers are much more valuable because they often have proven leadership ability, can show empathy and have communication skills,” she says. Contrast this with many college grads, who have difficulty, for example, writing (after four years in college, no less) and speaking in public. If you have these skills, you can shine—but you’ve got to get through to the recruiter first.
“Work your network,” Lister says. “Resumes are read by computers” and often weeded out based on certain key words or dates. Keeping—or rebuilding—your network is essential here.