Encore Careers January 2010
About 4 years ago I became aware of an emerging concept called “Encore Careers.” As Boomers began to face retirement age, they realized that they wanted to apply their talents to combine continued income, greater meaning and social impact. They were ready to work fewer hours, but not give up the stimulation of the workplace. Many were ready to try something new. This concept was further developed by Civic Ventures, the Metlife Foundation and AARP. Research demonstrated great concern about the potential loss of wisdom and stability of the older worker and how to replace the countless hours that older adults give to their communities when the next generation is both smaller and appears more self-serving.
In the past year, the concept has been expanding to include a growing number of people over 50 who are trying to re-enter the workforce out of necessity. Some have been laid off, some found their retirement savings much diminished, and others are responding to other changed family circumstances. Many “experienced workers” are finding that there is an employer reluctance to hire people who they judge to be “old school,” not tech savvy, likely to leave within 5-10 years, more costly, or vulnerable to health problems. There is research that demonstrates that older workers are actually more likely to stay with a company than young workers, more able to apply experience to the new position, and more able to adapt and go with the flow during difficult times on the job.
People who are seeking employment face a very different—sometimes bewildering—new world. One needs to be able to generate resumes on a computer and send them out to many more opportunities electronically. Job searches are done online through a wide range of sites as print Want Ads fade into history. There are also a number of website resources which can be instructive in navigating this new world if one knows how to choose, access and utilize them. These challenging times require creative thinking and extensive networking.
Civic Ventures, MetLife, Atlantic Philanthropies and others have offered grants to organizations that would develop model programs for creating encore career opportunities, volunteer leadership and building social capital. PSRC participated in one project led by the Princeton Area Community Foundation which explored developing social capital in our area. The winners of the 2009 Encore Opportunity Awards were just published. Projects include passing language and culture from Dakota and Ojibwe elders to young children, recruiting, training, and hiring people as caregivers to people with disabilities, an employer creating an “adjunct employee” option, encore workers mentoring young staff and clients/inmates, an interim executive director training program, partnering with AmeriCorps, training experienced tradesmen to be teachers and creating peer support networks. For more information, go to www.encore.org.
PSRC is expanding our fledgling Engaged Retirement program to support people seeking Encore Careers. This fall we offered programs on using volunteer experiences to build a resume and starting your own business. We have several programs planned for this winter and spring (see Engaged Retirement and Encore Career page in this issue).
We also want to put these principles into practice by finding individuals who are experienced in Human Resources who would like to develop and present workshops on resume writing and other related topics. Please contact Carol King or me if you are interested.