How to Sell Your Skills as an Older Worker

July 12, 2013

sell skills older workerEvery week it seems as if we are being treated to yet another story or report saying that Americans aren’t saving enough money for retirement. The statistics seem consistent with the claim, no matter what the source. But if people aren’t saving enough for retirement, what options will they have when the time comes?

For most, it will involve some form of work. Very few people will be able to live on Social Security alone, and if their retirement savings aren’t enough to cover the difference, then some form of earned income will have to do it.

But how do you sell your skills as an older worker?

You Have Plenty of Experience

If you are over 55 chances are that you have not years, but decades of work experience. Not only have you held several jobs, but you may have worked in two or more careers as well. That can give you an unusual combination of skills that should find a willing home in some business somewhere.

There is even scattered evidence that employers are showing a preference for older workers over very young ones. The reason cited is easy to see – older workers not only often have hands-on experience, but they understand what it takes to hold and to succeed on a job. “Little things,” such as punctuality, attention to detail, and customer service are major advantages in almost any type of business.

In any type of job that you would like to have, you should do what you can to redirect the employer’s attention away from your age and toward your many years of experience. Sell the employer on what it is you can bring to the table.

No Need for Benefits

Employee benefits are a major part of overall compensation packages in nearly every industry. This is a big reason why many employers are looking for ways to eliminate benefits. This is also where you may have a major competitive advantage.

If you already have health insurance, either through your spouse, a private plan, or Medicare, you will have no need of an employer-sponsored plan. Since this is a large and growing expense for employers, the fact that you don’t need a health plan will give you a huge advantage over younger workers who consider it to be a “must-have.”

No Family in Tow

Young people often have heavy family- and social-commitments. But as a mature person who is past the child-rearing years, you’ll have more time, energy, and mental alertness to concentrate on a job. If you have children, or you have raised them in the past, then you know exactly what I’m referring to. Children are a blessing in life, but they can and often do compete with your efforts to earn a living. As an older worker with no family to support, your demands for both time and money can be less extreme than it will be for younger workers.

Contract, Part-time and Seasonal – No Problem!

Another very big advantage that you have as an older worker is flexibility. If you have Social Security, pension income, and/or a healthy retirement portfolio, you will be able to be more flexible in your work schedule.

Where a younger worker may absolutely need a full-time, permanent job, you can be available to work contract, part-time, and even on a seasonal basis. That flexibility can make you more desirable to employers than younger workers with greater needs.

In addition, employers are often looking for workers with very specific skills to handle a certain job within the organization. With your long career history, there’s a very good chance you may have such a skill. An employer may bring you in to handle that job, which may only be part-time or seasonal. In that way, you’ll have a significant advantage over younger workers.

As a first order of business in preparing for retirement, you should do all that you can to maximize the funding of your retirement plans. But if those plans – plus Social Security and any other income sources you have – won’t be enough to cover all of your living expenses, you may have to look to some form of employment to fill the gap. And if you do, you will have definite advantages.

Can you think of any other advantages that older workers can bring to an employer?


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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