Great Resignation May Present Great Opportunity
For once, being older is attractive to employers.
Readers, don’t miss the special invitation at the bottom of
Are you having second thoughts about retirement? Now may be your moment to score big.
Crises beget opportunities, and the crisis of the moment, the so-called “Great Resignation,” spells opportunity for retired and close-to-retired workers.
Yes, you may have explored the job market before, and found your efforts greeted with yawns, ghosting, and overwhelming disinterest, because of a strong (and ageist) preference for eager, younger, lower-paid employees. For women, it has been a nasty cocktail of ageism and sexism.
But that was then. This is now. As companies in many sectors face actual shortages of workers, at least some are more willing to give seasoned workers a second look. Some even profess to seeing older workers as valuable business assets. A survey in September by Resume Builder found that 20 percent of retired workers had been asked by their former employers to return. One-third of the retirees said they’ve considered going back to work because of these new opportunities (although the majority were not interested in going back to their former employer).
Behind the Resignation
You can probably guess the reason for the new employer attitude. Beginning last April and for the remainder of the year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded higher than expected numbers of workers leaving their jobs voluntarily each month. For all 2021, that totaled 47 million workers, about one-third of the total nonfarm workforce. It’s not as shocking as it sounds, because normal job turnover is in the tens of millions, but it was significant enough to create labor shortages in some sectors.
Covid, clearly, is a major factor. By forcing almost everyone indoors for months, it eliminated some jobs and closed businesses. More significantly, it forced millions of employees to work remotely while spending generous amounts of time vaccinating, isolating, and hibernating with their families. Some employees couldn’t wait to return to the office, but many more found they rather liked skipping the commutes, the stress, and the gossip. Some began to rethink their work-life balance and just how much (to paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill) up with which they were willing to put. For millions, the answer was, “Take this job and shove it.”
Many employers are feeling the pinch and changing their tune about soon-to-be or recently-been retired.
“They’re dependable, they’re loyal, they come with a high skill set and are able to problem-solve,” says an executive for a job placement firm. The CEO of another staffing agency told Fortune magazine employers eventually will have to allow older workers to set their own terms. Their preferences now, according to a poll released this month, is for reduced hours and a flexible work schedule – in short, “semi-retirement” rather than leaving the workforce full stop.
1. The labor shortages have not been even across all sectors. One-third have been in accommodations, food services, and retail, all of which offer wages on the low side. Resignation rates in construction, finance, insurance, information, and real estate have been comparatively lower.
2. All employers haven’t gotten the message about your loyalty, dependability, and wisdom. Old habits die hard, and some managers remain, consciously or unconsciously, ageist and sexist.
3. The reasons other quit may be reasons you wouldn’t want the job either – such as inflexible hours, low pay, unwillingness to accept remote work, or stupid bosses.
But if you do venture into the employment market, keep in mind the advantages you offer employers. You’ve proven for decades that you can get to work on time, give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, and know how to treat customers and fellow employees with respect. You won’t take as long for “onboarding” (don’t you just love the wholesale butchery of the language?) or cost as much to train. No, you may not do algorithms one-handed while texting and listening to music on your ear buds, but you do have maturity and wisdom to offer.
Some employers, it seems, are looking for that. If it interests you, there may be no better time.
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