Are you over 50 and looking for a job? Here’s what to know about age and work

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With the bear market hitting retirement portfolios hard, bonds as mediocre as stocks, and inflation raging, what seemed like secure retirement income may be more of a pipe dream for many older Americans who had left the labor market or were planning to retire soon. The economic situation is pushing more workers of retirement age back into the labor market. A recent CNBC survey found that a majority of retirees would consider returning to work. But finding the right job isn’t always easy.

Many companies don’t offer the flexibility that many older workers want later in life. Age discrimination is another factor, with 78% of older workers saying they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to 2021 data from AARP. This is the highest level since 2003, when AARP began tracking data.

Yet many companies are increasingly looking to attract mature workers, and for good reason. On the one hand, the labor market is as tight as it has been for decades and there are now two open jobs for every worker in the country, and companies are struggling to recruit and retain talent. . Research from employee planning firm Homebase suggests older people are more engaged; more likely to look forward to work; more connected to their businesses; and less likely to consider quitting smoking. That makes older workers particularly attractive in today’s tight job market, said Jason Greenberg, chief economist at Homebase.

Here are four tips to help older workers find an age-friendly employer.

1. Identify companies that are committed to hiring older workers

Start with those who have publicly committed to leveling the playing field for older workers. More than 1,000 companies, including Humana, Microsoft, Marriott International and McDonald’s, have joined the AARP Employer Pledge program. Eligible companies must not have been sued for discrimination in the past five years. They must also agree to recruit from various age groups and consider all applications equally, regardless of age. AARP also offers a job board to help match experienced candidates with companies that are committed to having a diverse age employee base.

The Age-Friendly Institute also certifies companies that are considered best-in-class for workers aged 50 and over. Candidates go through a thorough review and certification process, which includes a commitment to “meaningful employment, development opportunities, and competitive pay and benefits for employees over 50.” The list, last updated in April, includes Aetna, Home Depot, Macy’s, Starbucks and Wells Fargo.

Just be aware that these lists can change and don’t give you the full picture, so be sure to do your due diligence on any company you’re considering, said Lance Robertson, former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. for Aging, who is now a director at Guidehouse, a global provider of consulting and IT services.

2. Look for clues in job postings

Older candidates should check out a company’s job postings, which can give insight into the company’s culture and whether they really include age, said Paul Lewis, chief client officer at Adzuna, a online job search engine. Older job seekers should look for language that specifically states the company does not discriminate based on age, he said.

Conversely, seniors should be wary of companies that use the term “digital native” in a job description or set a cap on the number of years of experience as a job requirement, said Karina Hertz, director of AARP strategic communications.

Additionally, websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Glassdoor can be helpful in finding resources and information about a company’s employment practices, including its commitment to older workers. And talking to current and former employees is also a good opportunity to gather information, Robertson said.

It’s also worth checking out what tools, if any, a company offers to help older workers find jobs. Humana, for example, has a careers site, with a “jobs after retirement” section where seniors can search for jobs, learn about popular roles for older workers, and get answers to FAQs, including what might be the impact of working on their Social Security benefits. Workers who are younger than what the Social Security Administration considers their full retirement age and earn more than the annual earnings limit, $19,560 in 2022, may have their benefits reduced. This means a deduction of $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the annual limit, for those who have not reached full retirement age all year.

3. Tap HR for specific answers on learning, benefits

After doing your basic research, be sure to speak to a company’s human resources department to better understand company policies, Robertson said.

Seniors should inquire about the types of supports the company offers for caregivers and what flexible work options exist in case an employee needs to take on or increase existing responsibilities. This can include an array of options, including job sharing, compressed work weeks, remote work, hybrid work and project-based work, said Chantelle Johnson, associate vice president of the hand -work and culture at Humana. It’s also important to know if the company offers senior networking groups, which is a good way for mature workers to connect and benefit from shared experiences, she said.

Team collaboration approaches and learning and development opportunities are important to know in advance, said Ronni Zehavi, CEO of HiBob, an HR technology platform. “Even if someone has been in the workforce for 30 years or more, that doesn’t mean they’ve acquired all the wisdom they want,” he said.

It’s equally important to ask how this learning happens, as many older adults aren’t as tech-savvy as their younger counterparts. Find out if the company offers options other than online and app-based training, Robertson said. And health care options, including dental, vision and pharmaceutical benefits, become even more important as people age, so that needs to be understood, he added.

4. Know the red flags

Check to see if older workers are featured on the company’s website and in promotional materials. According to Lewis, it’s a bad sign if the organization chooses to only feature employees in their 20s and 30s.

And if a potential employer asks you how old you are, when you graduated, or any other question designed to gauge your age — whether on an application or during a job interview — consider that a red flag. , Hertz said.

They shouldn’t say things like, “I wasn’t even born when you had that work experience or went to college,” Lewis added.

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