Make sure that the job you find is right for you
By Okey Chigbo
More and more people are working well past the usual retirement age or going back to work after they retire. According to Statistics Canada, one in five seniors were working in 2015, 30 per cent of whom worked full-time. From 1997 to 2010, the employment rate for men 50 or older grew from 30.5 per cent to 34.9 per cent, and for women, from 15.8 to 28.6 per cent.
There are any number of reasons for the trend: older workers may want to bring in extra income to supplement their pensions and government benefits or perhaps to make travel possible; many may want to pursue a job or new career in an area they feel passionate about; many may feel that they have experience that could benefit others; and some may return to the workforce to have something to look forward to each day.
Martha St. Pierre, a high school teacher who retired in 2013, says people work after retirement “because they still have so much to offer the world and to get from the world. Frankly, I just can’t see people retiring and doing nothing and having empty days ahead of them.”
St. Pierre is now an Ottawa-based practitioner and teacher of reiki, an ancient Japanese “holistic ‘energy-channelling’ health technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing and wholeness.” While she makes money, money isn’t her primary motivation. She says she does it because it’s something she loves and is very passionate about.
“People go back to work to find purpose, to find something to do that fills their day,” says Amy Friesen, the founder and CEO of Tea and Toast, a personalized service that matches seniors with retirement residence options. “A lot do it to give back to their communities.”
But where do older workers look for suitable jobs—and how do they find them?
Do Your Research
A good place to begin a search for retirement work is online. However, there are very few if any Canadian online sites that cater specifically to people 50 or older. Good Times found only one that purports to do that—retiredworker.ca—but was unable to reach anyone at the site via the two e-mail addresses listed (there are no phone numbers listed on the contact page), which may call into question how useful this site is likely to be as a source for retirees hopeful to find their next career.
Many general online recruitment sites, however, cater to the over-50 crowd. There are recruitment and job sites such as ca.Indeed.com, where you can register, upload your resumé, and respond to job postings. Some of the sites indicate that if you post your resumé, employers will find you. You can also have new postings sent to your e-mail address. Some of these sites may require that you pay a fee for registration. To find them, google “senior retirement work” and several will show up.
But looking for a job after or at retirement age isn’t as easy as some might think. Despite your 40 years of stellar experience in your chosen field, you may find that employers aren’t jumping at the chance to have you work for them. In fact, you may find yourself dealing with ageism.
Experts say that it’s important to identify the jobs that match your energy level and even your physical strength, if applicable. For example, it makes no sense to find a job that involves lifting heavy boxes for eight hours if you have back problems.
Most jobs listed for retirees tend to be part-time and contract work, and the experts say it’s rare to find full-time work offers for seniors.
It’s also important to do your research before you apply for a job. Candace Miles, a recruiter for the recruitment firm Drake International, says you should “familiarize yourself with the target company and how it runs, and identify the different roles and opportunities that are available throughout the company.”
Make the Necessary Updates
Miles suggests that you do a quick update of your resumé before you go looking. “Make sure that you have a resumé that shows your versatility. The best way to get a job is to show that you are a versatile worker. If you worked in a warehouse and you worked as a secretary, for example, don’t put down just one position; put down both because you never know…some positions may be listed as secretarial, for example, but perhaps the company would like somebody with warehouse experience—so you put down everything you have. Let your resumé show your experience.”
Some experts suggest updating your wardrobe so that you don’t appear out of step with the times when you go looking for work, but Miles doesn’t think this is absolutely necessary. She says seniors looking for work should dress according to the dress code of the employer with whom they’re seeking employment. So for example, if your target job is in a warehouse, of course you can’t wear open-toed shoes, whereas work boots may be more appropriate. On the other hand, if you’d prefer to work in an office, generally business casual is the norm, unless the company has a more formal dress code in place.
Above all, it’s vital to keep communication channels open. You’ll need a phone or cell line where you can be reached easily, along with an e-mail account. Some companies may use one, the other, or even both to contact you, which is why it’s important to cover all your bases.
Some experts recommend up-dating your computer skills, but unless you know which programs you’ll be working with, it’s difficult to know where you might need improvement. “A lot of jobs that are available through a placement agency are very basic,” Miles says. “So ‘basic data entry’ simply means that you have to learn how to use one program that the company will train you on; you just have to have decent typing skills. I find that people of the elder generation tend to have better typing skills than the younger generation, because younger people text and use smartphones much more than they actually use computers to type.”
For those who are thinking of starting their own business, reiki instructor Martha St. Pierre says, “When you start out, talk to people and get to know those who are in the same industry as the one in which you want to establish your new business. That’s how I did it: I learned from my teachers, learned from other people I met.”
And of course, if you’re starting your own business, it’s useful today to have a website, says St. Pierre, whose website holyfirereikiottawa.ca she credits as bringing in many of her clients.
Don’t Neglect Your Health
Miles has one last, vital-for-seniors tip: Just as you would do before taking up a new exercise regimen, check with your doctor before beginning any new job. “Make sure that what you intend to do during the course of a workday at your new job is healthy for you,” she says. “For instance, you definitely should check with your doctor before you start a physically taxing job in a warehouse at age 65.
“You never know what the doctor is going to say.”