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Posted: July 23, 2013

Best of CoBiz: Too young to retire ...

...too old to rehire?

John Heckers

There is a new catch-phrase that I'm hearing out on the "street." It is "Too young to retire, too old to rehire." It is complete and absolute hooey! Here are some things you can do if you're a mature executive to assure that you will be rehired much more rapidly.

1). Don't believe them. The media makes its money by fear-mongering. With the exception of one client who passed and one who got a terminal disease, I've never had a client who hasn't gotten hired, started a business, or, in one case, won the lottery! And that's over 30 years of helping folks with their careers. That's a pretty good sample of the working population, through both boom and recession. One of my successful clients was 70, and many have been in their 60's. The phrase is fertilizer. You're not too old to re-hire.

2). Consult. Yes, everyone is a consultant. But you have unique skills that someone will want, even if it is at a low price and only for a couple of weeks here and there. Consulting will bring in a little cash and keep your name out there, as well as possibly leading to a regular position.

3). Don't stop looking. Don't get discouraged because you haven't found anything yet. Jerry Seinfeld was booed his first time on stage. Walt Disney was rejected for a bank loan again and again. Einstein was judged by his teachers to be almost developmentally disabled. Look at the fame and success each of these people has had. You, too, will be successful if you don't give up looking.

4). Do something! Don't sit around watching the idiot box and being depressed. Network. Volunteer. Apply. Research. Do odd jobs. Consult. Exercise. Teach. But do something every working day. If you are working at something, paid or unpaid, you'll be a lot happier human being.

5). Look as young as possible. If your face won't betray you, dye your hair. Have at least one or two suits that are as new as possible. Walk and talk with vigor. Exercise regularly, even if it is difficult. Keep your hair well cut and styled. Look as neat and groomed as you are able. Old folks often let themselves go. Working people (regardless of age) are well-groomed and up-to-date.

6). Volunteer at a company. There are dozens of start-ups and other companies that would love to have you. They just can't pay you for your work. That's OK. By volunteering your professional services you have several opportunities to get employed. a). The company could find you so valuable that they'll find the money to hire you. b). They could get funded and begin to pay you. c). You might meet someone in the course of working for free who wants you for pay. d). You will gain new skills and experience that might get you employed.

The key to being successful at this is to not be there full-time. Devote a few hours a week to volunteering your professional work at a for-profit company, a few hours a week toward volunteering with a community organization, and the rest of the time to your job search.

How to get this started? Find a company that you want to work with, and have a chat with the CEO or other hiring authority. If you know the folks at the company, just start to "hang out," and offer to do this or that. Someone did that with me once, and wound up with a job.

7). Get help. There are many small groups of older executives where you can exchange ideas and job leads. A transition coach with experience in your demographic can make all the difference in the world. Others who have made the transition into a new position in their 50's or 60's can give you tips and advice. There is plenty of help out there, if you simply reach out.

8). Look at self-employment. Large corporations are dinosaurs. The bulk of the GDP is produced by small businesses. While capital is very helpful, many companies have started on a shoe-string, including mine. What you need is a good idea and the creativity and gumption to make it happen.

You can always find some nay-sayer4 who will sing the blues and try to derail you in life. Ignore them. While what they say might be technically true, it isn't true of you. Choose not to be a statistic for the government. You're better than that!

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

Great advice John; and a good point from Paula. I advise my clients to stand up during phone interviews. Standing helps project the voice and can make the speaker sound animated, not flat. ~ Scott By Scott Woodard on 2010 10 29
Thanks Paula. That's one I'll pass on to my clients. We often forget that the phone interview can be the most important interview in that, if you don't pass that one....you aren't going to get the face to face. Ron...when I had admins in my past, even though I was young and foolish, I usually hired the most mature admin possible. They'd never be late, were incredibly hard working, and were grateful to have a job in an increasingly youth oriented world, so would work even harder. More mature workers are a great bet for any business if they want skill, stability, a great work ethic and proven competence. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2010 10 28
good article, I once hired a gentleman who was in his 70's to do mechanic work. He worked out fine for a couple of years. After he turned 80, I told him he had to retire. He had a great work ethic, was not late for work, kept working when the younger guys would waste time. He never was on his cell phone, he never checked his e-mail whil on company time, he was never on the internet wasting time on company dollars. If I had to do it over again, I would make the same decision. By Ron Neblesick on 2010 10 28
Excellent ideas! I would add one more: Practice sounding energetic and enthusiastic over the phone. Because many initial interviews are done by phone, that initial voice impression carries a lot of weight. By Paula Ancona on 2010 10 27
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