Two years ago, Lucy would never have imagined that she would one day be the director of a marketing department. At the time, she was the manager of a manufacturing company in her hometown when she and 15 other employees were told they were being laid off. The shock and immediate fear were palpable. She questioned what she would do and whether she would struggle to find another job because of her age. Suddenly, she found herself in a position where she had to reevaluate who she was and what she wanted to be “when she grew up.”
Lucy was only 57 years old, in good health, and financially stable. She enjoyed working and did not have intentions of retiring for years. She made the decision to reinvent and rebrand herself and eventually received an opportunity to begin a new role that she loves to this day.
Lucy’s story is not uncommon, due to changing market demands and economic constraints facing many industries, including the healthcare industry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of people aged 65 to 74 years who are still working is 26.6% (as of 2022), and this percentage is projected to increase to 29.9% by 2032.1 In addition, the number of individuals aged 75 years and older in the labor force is expected to grow by 96.5% by 2030.2
When considering the healthcare industry specifically, we are seeing the same trend of talented older professionals who are continuing to work. Zippia.com recently reported that of the more than 44,800 medical practice managers in the United States, 73% are older than 40 years of age.3
Potential Benefits of Working Past Age 65 YEARS
What may be surprising to some are the benefits of working later in life. An article posted by Harvard Health Publishing explains why working later in life can be beneficial not only to your wallet but to your health.4 Nicole Maestas, PhD, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, who studies the economics of aging, notes several reasons why people may want to work later in life, including the following:
- Life expectancy has improved, and people are in better health than they were years ago. “If you expect to live into your 80s or beyond, it’s natural that you might still be working in your 60s and 70s.”
- “Many people have less physically demanding jobs in today’s information economy, so for some it is easier to continue working.”
Dr Maestas further explains that along with better health and longer life expectancy, people may need to work to continue to support themselves.4
Aging members of the workforce are not only choosing to continue working past the “typical” retirement age but are also looking at other opportunities and career changes.
Keys to Success
Aging members of the workforce are not only choosing to continue working past the “typical” retirement age but are also looking at other opportunities and career changes. Resume Builder recently reported that 40% of workers aged 54 years and older have considered changing jobs because of new opportunities, especially in light of continued labor shortages. Some of the reasons cited for looking at other careers included the desire to work remotely, wanting increased compensation, and working in a field that is less stressful.5
So, what do career experts recommend if you are looking to work longer or make a career change? There are several steps you can take, as outlined below.
You should always be updating your resume with new skill sets, accomplishments, certifications, and/or recent accolades.
- Make a career plan.
- Rebrand (and update) your resume.
This is the time to really look at what you would like to do and create a plan. It should include options and goals, a timeline, and action items. It is also important to review and adjust your plan as needed.
Keeping your resume updated is critical even if you are not considering a career change. You should always be updating your resume with new skill sets, accomplishments, certifications, and/or recent accolades. Your resume should be a living document. For those considering a career change or working later in life who are concerned about ageism (bias based on age), the following tips can be helpful for rebranding your resume to showcase who you are—and not your age:
- Focus the format. Instead of listing your employers, begin with a section that highlights your achievements, experience, and technical skills. Do not format your resume in chronological order.
- In your opening summary, focus on what your experience is, not on how many years of experience you have.
- List employment dates only for your most recent position. Resume experts suggest including only dates for roles you have held within the past 15 years. Listing positions that predate this period is acceptable; however, it is advised to omit specific time periods during which those roles were held. In addition, also consider omitting roles you have had that were not in the professional setting (ie, working at the local ice cream shop).
Take a personal inventory of the skills you have acquired throughout your career. During your job search, take note of common technical skills that may be listed, such as proficiency in Microsoft or Workday. If you do not have familiarity with current software programs, take the initiative to pursue educational opportunities to develop these skills. Most applications that are used in business can be self-taught.
Some of the criteria for your goals should be that they are specific, attainable, and designated with a specific time period for achieving your goals.
As stated earlier, regardless of whether you are looking to make a career change or planning to stay in your present position, continuous learning is essential. An excellent demonstration of what continuous learning can provide is noted in the following quote from LinkedIn:
“Continuous learning is your self-motivated persistence in acquiring knowledge and competencies in order to expand your skill set and develop future opportunities. It forms part of your personal and professional development in an effort to avoid stagnation and reach your full potential.”6
Networking allows you to make valuable connections and create opportunities to build relationships with those in industries that interest you. Opportunities for networking exist in professional social media platforms and seminars as well as in remaining in touch with former colleagues. Networking not only helps you but also provides the opportunity for you to help others. For those getting started, reading the Harvard Business Review article by Amantha Imber, “Easy Networking Tips for the Networking Haters,” can help.7 It is a short but excellent article on networking tips.
Millions of professionals look to LinkedIn to network with others and to source for open positions. According to Forbes, 95% of recruiters are utilizing LinkedIn as a resource to secure candidates.8 When building your LinkedIn profile, it is a good idea to keep the following things in mind:
- Your “headline” (what people first see when they look at your profile) should describe you and not just list your current job title. Consider adding details that describe your skill set or experience, such as Marketing Professional | Communications Manager | VP of PR. You want to keep it concise but robust to highlight your experience.
- Use a professional profile photo. While photos you have of yourself enjoying a vacation or spending time with family are wonderful, your focus should be on providing the best professional version of yourself to potential employers.
- Be active on LinkedIn daily. Being passive with your activity will yield lackluster results. The opportunities for networking with others, sharing information you learned from a course you recently took, and linking in with others in the field you are exploring are limitless.
There may be disappointments and frustrations along the way. Staying positive and focused will help you navigate what can be a challenging but rewarding journey. Keep track of your progress and intently pursue your career plan.
Employers recognize and value what the experienced worker brings to the table: knowledge, a strong work ethic, and resiliency.
Labor shortages, healthier lifestyles, enthusiasm for learning, and new opportunities have opened the doors for individuals who are not ready to put away the business suit. Employers recognize and value what the experienced worker brings to the table: knowledge, a strong work ethic, and resiliency. Choosing to work past the average retirement age, or to make a career change later in life, is more realistic than ever before. Retirement can wait.
- Civilian labor force participation rate by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Updated September 6, 2023. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.bls.gov/emp/tables/civilian-labor-force-participation-rate.htm
- Number of people 75 and older in the labor force is expected to grow 96.5 percent by 2030. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. November 4, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/number-of-people-75-and-older-in-the-labor-force-is-expected-to-grow-96-5-percent-by-2030.htm
- Medical practice manager demographics and statistics in the US. Zippia. Updated July 21, 2023. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.zippia.com/medical-practice-manager-jobs/demographics/
- Working later in life can pay off in more than just income. Harvard Health Publishing. June 1, 2018. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/working-later-in-life-can-pay-off-in-more-than-just-income
- Labor shortage driving demand for retirees – 20% have been asked to return to work. Resume Builder. Updated October 20, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.resumebuilder.com/labor-shortages-driving-demand-for-retirees/
- Nagpal A. 7 reasons why continuous learning is important. LinkedIn. June 30, 2017. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-reasons-why-continuous-learning-important-amit-nagpal
- Imber A. Easy networking tips for the networking haters. Harvard Business Review. October 15, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2023. https://hbr.org/2021/10/easy-networking-tips-for-the-networking-haters
- Ryan R. 95% of recruiters are on LinkedIn looking for job candidates. How to impress them. September 9, 2020. Accessed October 18, 2023. www.forbes.com/sites/robinryan/2020/09/09/95-of-recruiters-are-on-linkedin-looking-for-job-candidates-how-to-impress-them/?sh=52421f442ef8