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The Big Question: Retire or Not?

When you go the dictionary and look up the word retire, here is what you will find:  1. to leave one’s job and cease work, typically upon reaching the normal age for leaving employment. 2.  Withdraw to or from a particular place.  But what if you are one of the millions of employees that are not ready to retire? What do you do if you still have years to go before you decide to quit working to pursue other ideas? If you are only in your late 50’s or even in your 60’s, leaving work now may be one option, but what about the many others that exist?  We will explore those options here and shed a little light on a seemingly insurmountable problem.

In the movie “Up in the Air”, George Clooney is hired by companies all over the country who are outsourcing firing employees.  Watching this movie is a bit sad when you see the looks on people’s faces as they get the news. The responses are all the typical things you have heard from employees when they have gotten that news. Clooney tries to soften the blow by providing a packet of information about options that the newly unemployed people can use to figure out what to do next.  All of the people fired are over 55 and some are over 65. They are dumbstruck by the event.  Some cry, some scream, others just walk out of the office numb.  Unfortunately one person commits suicide.

Looking for a new job is a full time job in itself.  But before you commit to that full time job, consider the following ideas:

1. How to match your physical health with the new job.  Do you need to be able to work full time, part time, as needed, tele-commute, or work as a consultant?  A new employer will certainly ask those questions. Be ready with those answers, or you could lose your opportunity. There is a line in a popular song that goes, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”  It is very true. The job is open because someone else could not do it. Make sure you can answer the question about what type of hours you can work.

2. Does your life experience qualify you for the job, over the actual work experience? There are situations where your life experience could get you the job and then you could learn whatever is needed to complete the job.  Many companies cannot find enough qualified applicants to fill the openings. Be prepared to document how what you have learned in life that will prepare you for this job opening.

3. Check out the history of the company. Do you want to work for an upstart company that is on the cutting edge of technology? Or a company that is seasoned and is willing to hire older workers to get the job done.  Your answer to this question will make quite a difference in your approach.  There will probably be a range of employees in either venue, but choosing the right mix will make all the difference in the outcome.

4. What is your reputation in the workforce? Are you someone who is well respected in your field? Does your reputation precede you? When you call a prospective employer, does the sound of your name put a smile on their face, or a grimace?  Reference letters are nice, but what would a former employer say about your reliability on the job when the call came to his or her desk.  Your prospective new employer wants to know if you are going to be reliable and trustworthy.

5. How much money do you need to live? Of all the ideas put forth here this is perhaps the one that will trip you up the most. In the past have you negotiated your own raises? Bringing in the information that supports the work you have done since your last raise? If not, you really will need to decide on a dollar amount, either hourly or on a salaried basis before you apply for any job. You don’t know if you are asking for too much or too little. You will probably be asked this question later in the interview, so be prepared for it.

Do have enough education for the new job? Will you be in middle management or higher up on the ladder? Would it take more time, money and training for you to get the job?  If you are hired will the new employer spend the money for you to get the training needed?  Do you want to be in a classroom or learn online?  Do you need a new wardrobe, or a new place to live closer to the new workplace?  It can be overwhelming to have to consider all of these new things when all you want to do is get back to work.

Headhunters and temp services can be helpful in locating the new job for those who want to put it in the hands of those more expert in the task at hand.  You will have to take some tests, both personality and technical skill, and answer questions that have been raised in this article. It can be worth the effort, or it can drain your energy and make you want to give up. It is up to you which path you want to pursue.

Whether to retire or keep working is something each person has to decide for him/herself. You have to discuss it with those closest to you and decide how to proceed. If you decide to pursue life-long passions that could pay you handsomely, then do that. If you decide not to work at all, consider how you would spend your day. 

Retirement is not for everyone. I am almost 68 and I intend to continue working for about three more years. I don’t call it retirement; I call it quitting work. Semantics, I know, but I prefer my idea over the standard jargon associated with being older and still working.

About the Author

Carol Bronson has been employed at Allied Research Technology, Inc. since November 2011. She was initially the Finance Manager, responsible for paying the bills and the payroll. Her responsibilities have increased over the years and now include human resources, workers’ compensation claims, unemployment paperwork and new employee interviews. She finds that her psychology degree has come in handy when employees come to her for personal issues. 


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