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Too Old To Work?

Closeup of a construction worker in hard hat using a measuring tape with the numbers facing forward. Focus is on the mans hands and tape measure.

Closeup of a construction worker in hard hat using a measuring tape with the numbers facing forward. Focus is on the mans hands and tape measure. All over the world, people are working longer. In 1985, just 18% of all 65-69 years olds were still in the workforce.

Today, the number is well over 30%.

Most people over 75 are no longer in the workforce, not necessarily because they are physically or otherwise incapable of handling their jobs. Rather, their interests and needs change and they leave voluntarily.

Job seekers in the older age bracket seem to find it harder to secure a new job the older they are, but it does depend on the industry, and who is doing the placements. HR consultants privately admit that after 55 or 60, it becomes hard to find meaningful new employment.

A study examining hundreds of job applications found that those purportedly sent by “younger” people were 40 percent more likely to result in an interview request than those sent by “older” ones. However, there are age-friendly careers and if you are self employed, then it’s easier to keep the boss on side! 

Doctors, lawyers, accountants and journalists often improve with age and experience. For those who have been in more hands-on work, a move to consultancy or project management will enable career longevity. It’s also vital to remain up to date with the latest trends, research and training and retain an open mind. This allows you to work well with a wide age range and be perceived as an asset.

Older workers are also renowned for their experienced, loyalty, dependability, customer rapport and good judgment.    

“Someone 50 is not an ‘older’ worker,” says Deborah Russell, AARP’s director of workforce issues. “He or she will work at least 15 more years. That’s a significant investment for a company.”

“Looking at a 70-year-old, that person could sit behind a computer for 20 more years,” Russell adds. “A job like a nurse or a mechanic might have diminishing returns because of the physical demands, but for airline pilots, police and other jobs where there have always been mandatory retirement rules, we need to take a closer look at those ages. Should someone 70 fly a plane? If they can pass the stringent physical and mental tests, why not?”

To fight stereotypes and bias, it’s best to stay with the job you have.

Simply put, if you want to work in retirement, don’t retire. Or, take steps to ensure you can stay in your chosen career for as long as possible.