About 65% of workers plan to work for pay in retirement, but only 27% of retirees say they have managed to accomplish that goal, according to a recent survey. This doesn't surprise Cash Nickerson who studied this issue for his new book,BOOMERangs: Engaging the Aging Workforce in America.
Nickerson believes that many people would enjoy and benefit from staying employed into their late 60s, 70s and beyond, but to do that they may need to polish their résumés and find a new job.
An attorney with an MBA, Nickerson, 55, has read and reviewed the résumés of thousands of workers. He was a corporate lawyer for 10 years, an entrepreneur for 10 years and is now president of PDS Tech, an engineering and IT recruiting firm that supplies temporary staff and project support to Fortune 500 clients. His company employs about 7,200 people for its clients. Nickerson shared his insights on this topic with USA TODAY retirement writer Nanci Hellmich.
Q: Many people want to continue working after age 65. What are the advantages for society, employers and for these seasoned workers?
A: I call it a win-win-win. For the government, if these people weren't working they would be a burden on social service programs such as Social Security and Medicare. For the employers, these seasoned workers have experience and a tremendous amount of knowledge. And it's great for the people themselves. Studies show that people are healthier, happier and live better lives if they are working. There is a horrible health impact when people are involuntarily terminated when they are older.
Q: How do people begin looking for a job if they have been laid off or retired but want to get back into the workforce?
A: Consider going to a firm that hires temporary help. That can be your best bet to get back in the workplace. A lot of temporary jobs lead to permanent jobs. It's a way to get your foot in the door. Once you are there and working, they realize you are really good and hire you.
Volunteer for charitable organizations because that gets you out. People who hire other people go to charitable events. The more you engage, the better off you are. Don't sit at home, send out résumés and do nothing else.
Q: How do you know if you are a good candidate for starting your own business?
A: Ask yourself this simple question: Who would write me a check tomorrow to do what? If you don't have an answer to that, then you need to apply for jobs.
Q: What suggestions do you have for seasoned workers about writing résumés and cover letters?
A: Make sure your résumé and cover letter aren't too long, about one or two pages for the résumé and one page for the cover letter. If the résumé is too long, you look overqualified and too expensive. It's not necessarily age-related. In both the résumé and cover letter, spell out your skills, what tasks you can do and what contribution you can make for the new company. Your résumé should match the company's job description. You can even highlight those skills on your résumé. Be truthful, concise and emphasize your work skills, not how accomplished you are. Ironically, it's not about you.
Q: What suggestions do you have about job interviews?
A: You need to project a sense of usefulness and experience. Practice this with someone you know, possibly with someone younger. You may be screened for a job by a Millennial, and you need to know how you come across to all demographics. Have someone video your practice interview and share it with some people to get feedback. It's a video selfie.
Q: What should you avoid doing in job interviews?
A: Don't bring up war stories. People's eyes glaze over. They don't want to hear them. Don't use phrases such as "when I was young." Those just date you and reinforce stereotypes. And don't denigrate yourself. If you can't remember something and call it a senior moment, you belittle yourself. Everyone forgets things.
Don't bring in any bitterness into the job interview. If you were laid off from your last position, couch your words carefully. Don't say anything negative about the previous company. Put yourself in the employer's shoes. They don't want to hear what was wrong with your last employer. Employers want people who are easy to deal with. They want people to be low maintenance. Unfortunately, sometimes seasoned workers have less of a filter and feel like they are able to say it like it is.
If you left of your own accord, put a positive spin on it. If you took a buyout, you could talk about how it was a really good deal for you, that it was a good financial decision.
Q: What other words of wisdom do you have?
A: Never quit your job before you have a new one. It's really hard to put a positive spin on, "I quit, and now I'm looking for a job."
Be open to taking some steps backwards. If you were managing teams and staffs of engineers, you may have to go back and do engineering work. This is important, because you've got to start somewhere, so you may have to retrace some steps.
Exercise, keep a positive attitude and engage with others as much as possible. You should be looking forward and not back. Whether you are engaged in the workforce as a seasoned worker or trying to return, talk about your vision and hope for your future.