Big deal! How about searching for work at age 65? I had just retired from a long-time career, and should have been all comfy with a good pension and Social Security. So, why did I have to drag my old bones out to search for a job?Good reason. My girlchild had just started as a freshman at an expensive Ivy League university, and her combined tuition and living expenses were to be at least $35,000 per for the next four years. She was … and is … a responsible person, so she managed to get a $5,000 a year scholarship and a part-time job at a boutique food shop near the university.
However, that still required dear old dad to shell out $25,000 a year.
When I retired, and after not attending my insincere retirement ceremony, my spouse and I were on our way the next day from the cold, cold East to the hot, hot desert Southwest. We found an apartment and began looking around for work. My spouse, a medical pro, quickly found a part-time job that brought in some bucks, but not nearly enough to finance our daughter’s Ivy League needs. It was up to dear old dad to do get back into the job market.So, if you were an employer and a 65-year-old guy came in looking for work, would you hire him? Forget about all the anti-age discrimination laws. Chances would seem to be somewhere between “are you kidding” and “no way.” So, here’s what I did. My career, both in civilian and Navy years, had been in advertising, public relations and sales promotion.
When we moved West, I took a quality scrapbook of my work with me. In addition to my writing record, I also made sure to include samples of publications photography and art I had created along the way.
I went on a couple of interviews, looking primarily for freelance jobs. These visits were mildly successful, and I picked up some assignments. But for the first six months of my retirement, I averaged about $50 a week. It wasn’t nearly enough, considering I was spending too much of my time pitching for work, and traveling to and from jobs.
I decided to go for a full-time job. The first interview I managed to get was with a large city community center, and luckily for me the organization’s PR director had just been abruptly kicked out. Talk about timing and dumb luck! The job was tailor made for me, and when I flashed my portfolio samples, the center’s president said, “When can you start?”
I know I caught my future boss at just the right moment when he was desperate to get someone to take over the PR and ad work load that was piling up, but I like to take some credit for my presentation, attitude and self-confidence. To any other older person seeking a new job, my advice is to prove to the interviewer and potential boss that you still have all the skills and capabilities the job requires. In fact, you can point out that statistics show most older workers are considerably more reliable and have more solid work ethics than younger ones.
Incidentally, I worked at that job for five years, then retired again and volunteered at the community center for another five years. I didn’t have to wander out to pasture until I was 75. Not incidentally, that daughter, whose Ivy League education caused me to re-enter the work force, is now a writer-producer for one of TV’s most popular programs.