Suppose you were driving an underpowered 1962 Plymouth and suddenly discovered yourself in today’s heavy, fast-moving freeway traffic. Would your vehicle be up to the situation? Cars and questions are both vehicles to take us somewhere we need to be.
A reporter recently requested an interview with me about jobs and work After 50. His questions:
- What are the best jobs for people over 50?
- How much can they make?
- How can they be assured the jobs are permanent?
The problem, of course, is that the quality of the question (vehicle) always predicts the quality of the answer (arriving at where we need to be). The reporter’s questions were the equivalent of that underpowered 1962 Plymouth.
Maya Angelou correctly points out people are more similar than dissimilar. However, we are also as unique as fingerprints from the collective results of years of decisions we have made before 50. Consider the worldview, work-related needs, and marketable abilities of 76 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. How likely is that they will be identical to each other?
Pretending that permanent jobs are our only way to create work and earn money After 50 in the “new normal” misses the point. We’ll also need to consider self-employment, expertise consulting, being entrepreneurs, and becoming investors of time/energy/expertise, and money in specific businesses. Self-marketing in all of these categories is becoming a survival skill for anyone After 50.
When it comes to creating work and money, we’re at least as unique as we are similar.
Carrie lives in the Midwest. She is 52. As a longtime single mother who carefully selected Post Office job security, she is only now entering into a career-driven era of focusing simultaneously on going back to school part time, climbing the professional ladder, increasing her income, saving for distant retirement, and building a life on her own.
Max lives on the East Coast. He is a very young and athletic 75. He has plenty of money, energy, skill and not enough challenging stimulation. Max is frankly bored with volunteering and golf. He’s seeking work to keep him engaged, creative and productive three or four days per week.
Susan lives in the Pacific Northwest. At 45 she started a retail Hand Crafts and Classes business. Now 21 years later she is tired of the demands of her store. She is selling the store and has negotiated working as an instructor afternoons only so she can continue to have health care coverage, some additional continuing income and a life style that includes mornings off and afternoons with the crafts she loves.
Rick is 76 and lives in Florida. He is one of the reportedly 1 million Social Security recipients there who has spent down their eroded assets and now relies almost exclusively on Social Security. He needs to get a job and hasn’t searched for work in 30 years. His work skills are not current. Rick and his wife never dreamed they would be in this position when they retiredto their golden years.
The truth is there are no monolithic “best jobs” for people After 50. Best work After 50 depends upon:
• the individual’s needs and the work available or that can be created in the region
• the individual’s match with, and selection of one, or a combination of possibilities (jobs, self-employment, expertise consulting, being entrepreneurs, and becoming investors of time/energy/expertise, and money in specific businesses)
• how good the person is at self-marketing
Compensation will depend upon what can be earned through self-employment or what employers’ compensation studies in any given region or industry.
“Permanence” will come from a combination of work available, updated skills and expertise, performance on the job and always keeping an eye out for future opportunities on the correct assumption that current work may not last forever.
At the end of the interview the reporter conceded his editor was looking for copy based on short lists for readers who didn’t like or want to reach beyond easy answers. He asked if he could come back with smarter questions for a longer interview. He wanted to upgrade from his 1962 Plymouth questions to a set of questions (vehicle) that could result in some really useful answers (destination).