"Redeployment" isn't Just a Military Term

OntheClockRetirement expert Kerry Hannon writes frequently about working past the traditional retirement age. She recently told MarketWatch that, when it comes to switching jobs in your 50s or 60s, "The truth of the matter is a lot of what you can do is redeploying skills you have." She suggests promoting skills you already have on a resume and says for older job switchers, it's about "being resilient and being flexible."

I think the concept of "redeployment" is a solid way to view the all-too-common dilemma of seeking new employment. If you're a Boomer who has lost a job you had for many years, or you're simply burned out and want a new opportunity, you will likely be faced with age discrimination. While you cannot overcome this basic bias completely, you can represent yourself and your skills in the best possible light. Marketing what you really have going for you can make a big difference.

It pays to ask yourself some serious questions about your competency in various areas and make sure your expertise in these areas is emphasized on your resume, in your cover letter, and at an interview. "Soft skills," such as listening and communicating well or being analytical, could also be viewed as very valuable by a potential employer. Hannon says such skills can be advantageous, regardless of the field you're in. "What a lot of employers look for if they want you to be a part of the team is if you have social skills."

So think about it: How could you redeploy your current skills and experience into a brand new job, potentially in a new field of interest to you? Is it possible to leverage your professional background, your specific expertise, and your soft skills so that you look like a very distinctive and attractive job candidate? In addition, in redeploying your abilities, do you recognize that you may have to be more flexible in accepting a new position in terms of managerial level, hours worked, or compensation?

"Redeployment"of your skills and abilities could be a key strategy to finding the right "second wind" opportunity.  


Can You Market Your Passion?

OnaWhimOnce we've reached Boomer status, many of us already realize what we're passionate about. The challenge in this second phase of life is being able to market your passion. Wouldn't it be great if you could actually turn your passion into part-time retirement income instead of working at a random, unrewarding job?

Nancy Collamer's recent article for NextAvenue.org, "How to Turn Your Passions Into Retirement Income," spotlights some Boomers who have done just that. One of them, a food lover, now works as a part-time guide for a food tour company. Another retiree who loves dogs gets dog walking jobs online. A third Boomer who has a passion for painting is selling his artwork online. Nancy suggests four possible ways to turn your passion into retirement income:

  1. Find a related part-time job
  2. Apply for contract work or "gigs"
  3. Sell your creations online
  4. Teach what you know online.

I can tell you from personal experience that marketing your passion works. During my professional career in advertising, I always loved to read business books. Now I've retired from advertising, but I still read business books -- and I also get paid for writing reviews of them. I have combined my love of reading and an ability to write into part-time retirement income.

What is your passion? Is it something you can market? You might be surprised to find out that you really can turn your passion into retirement income.


The Leisure Retiree

OnYourOwnOne of the ways we Boomers are redefining retirement is by combining work and leisure in the pursuit of happiness. While not every Boomer is in a position to pursue this creative concept, it is certainly worth considering if you can make it a reality.

A good example of the leisure retiree, writes Claudia Dreifus for The New York Times, is Dr. John Siebel, a retired oncologist. Siebel decided at age 64 that he wanted to continue to see patients, but only part-time, and he wanted to find a way to combine that with his love for adventure and the outdoors. Dreifus reports that "Dr. Siebel’s answer was to become a kind of oncological 'temp,' covering for vacationing doctors with practices in interesting places — including Alaska."

This is how it works, according to Dreifus: "For up to three months of every year — the limitation is Dr. Siebel’s choice — a medical employment agency books him for short stints in remote parts of Alaska, California or Idaho. He will only accept assignments near wilderness areas.

Weekdays, he sees patients. On weekends, he heads to the mountains and explores."

Dreifus shares other examples of leisure retirees in her excellent article.

The point, I think, is that an ideal rewirement (I use the term to replace mere "retirement") is one that leverages your career skills into a flexible part-time position so you can pursue leisure activities as well. In order to do this, certain conditions must exist, of course:

  • You need to have sufficient retirement savings/income so that you can work part-time rather than full-time.
  • Your skills must be in demand, at least to the extent that you can achieve the kind of attractive work/leisure balance as did Dr. Siebel.

I have taken a slightly different but similar approach. I was a direct marketing professional who had started a direct marketing agency, and I also authored a number of marketing and business books. When I left the profession, I struck out as a part-time marketing consultant/part-time business writer. Nowadays, I write more than I consult. I combine that with volunteering for non-profit organizations, as well as enjoying some leisure time. In my case, the three-way balance of part-time self-employment, volunteering, and leisure work just fine. Perhaps that would work for you, too. 


Hail the Boomer Consumer

MediaDisregard for the Boomer consumer runs rampant in American advertising. There is a good reason for it: Many advertisers and their agencies believe the future is in youth. The rationale is that it pays to invest marketing dollars in reaching younger generations who will hopefully become long-term customers of a brand. In addition, the demographic shift has just put Millennials ahead of Boomers as the largest segment of the population.

Still, studies indicate it is Boomers that have the most collective wealth and the most disposable income in America. That fact is not lost on at least some marketers. In an intriguing commentary for MediaPost directed to marketing professionals, Mark Bradbury writes, "There is a noticeable momentum shift in the marketing of mainstream brands to Boomers." The reason is that brand marketers now see "a significant loss of Boomer consumers that has not been made up for in the acquisition of new Millennial brand users. Having believed that Boomers’ brand loyalty was set in stone, many had hyper-focused on Millennials, only to learn that Boomer customers were more than willing to migrate to competing brands." Bradbury points to research to validate the claim: "Recent trend research from GfK MRI indicates that literally hundreds of CPG brands have lost 20% or more of their Boomer business over just the past five years."

Brands that have been systematically avoiding advertising to Boomers are now paying the price. You would think a demographic segment as large as Boomers (currently over 76 million) would warrant at least some attention. We are not unaware of brands that ignore us, and we are just as capable of switching brand loyalty as a Millennial or younger consumer.

Bradbury cites three examples of brands that not only appeal to Boomers, but also embrace Boomers in their marketing campaigns. Read his article to learn about these brands. We can only hope that they will teach a lesson to a marketing industry that has mistakenly and prematurely tended to cast aside the Boomer. 


5 Steps to Help Ensure Adequate Retirement Income

Guest Post by Merilee Kern

MusingsWhile plenty of people are duly committed to saving for retirement through 401k, IRA or other nest egg-inducing personal finance plays, however devotedly and even over many years, it turns out several may actually be suffering a false sense of security. 

“For many years, financial planners have espoused general formulas for determining the amount of income retirees will need, the most popular being the ‘70 percent rule’ that suggests that retirees will need to replace just 70 percent of their pre-retirement income to provide for their living needs in retirement,” notes Ray LeVitre, CFP, author of 20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now; and founder/managing partner at Net Worth Advisory Group — a firm specializing in retirement financial planning

“That may have been an effective guideline a few decades ago when the rule was established; however, for many retirees, relying upon it today may be fraught with financial peril."

According to LeVitre, modern-day aging cost considerations include:

  • A male turning 65 years old today can be expected to live another 19 years versus 11 years in 1970; for women, they can expect to live another 23 years

  • The chances of retirees or an elder family member requiring some form of long-term care is 7 in 10.

  • Many of today’s retirees are carrying some form of debt into retirement, including mortgages, consumer debt and student loans.

  • Although inflation has moderated somewhat since the 1970s, lifestyle costs, such as housing, food and transportation consume a larger portion of a retiree’s budget today.

  • Although health care cost increases have slowed, the rate of cost increases continues to be well above the general rate of inflation.

I asked LeVitre what baseline, foundational steps those within 15 years of retirement can do to enhance lifetime income sufficiency. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. Track your expenses now. You should begin to track your living expenses and gradually adjust your budget to smooth out your consumption between your living requirements now and your requirements in retirement.

  2. Start living like a retiree now. Taking it a step further, you could take the approach of changing your lifestyle now to reflect how you expect to live in retirement. That might mean downsizing your home now, reducing your leisure travel, driving more efficient cars, and generally adopting a more frugal mindset.

  3. Increase your savings. Any combination of the first two steps should generate steady increase in excess cash flow which should be saved for retirement. Pre-retirees within 15 years of retirement should target a minimum of 15 percent of their earnings for contributing to their retirement.

  4. Start exploring your Social Security options. Retirees who are able to postpone their Social Security benefits until age 70 can significantly boost their lifetime income; and additional Social Security planning for spousal benefits could increase it further.

  5. Don’t invest too conservatively. Although the natural inclination is to reduce your exposure to risk-based investments like equities the closer you are to retirement, reducing your exposure by too much, too soon could stunt the growth of your capital. To ensure lifetime income sufficiency, today’s retirees should always have some exposure to equities. A broadly diversified, well-balanced portfolio of equities, bonds and cash offers the best opportunity to maintain the necessary growth of capital needed while minimizing volatility over the long-term.

LeVitre also underscored that, regardless of your planning method or process, it would be a mistake to succumb to standard formulas or a generalized approach to retirement planning.  

“Right now, your retirement vision—formed by your specific needs, wants, attitudes and beliefs—rests in your mind, and it will undoubtedly change as your outlook and priorities change,” he says. “But, you should always base your income needs on realistic assumptions.” So it’s time for America’s aging population to do a collective fiscal-future reality check. 

Merilee Kern, MBA, is an influential media voice and communications strategist. As the Executive Editor and Producer of "The Luxe List International News Syndicate,” she’s a revered consumer product trends expert and travel industry voice of authority who spotlights noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers. Merilee may be reached online at www.TheLuxeList.com. Follow her on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/LuxeListEditor and Facebook here: www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList.


A Real Solution to Workplace Age Discrimination

OnaWhimAge discrimination in the workplace is a threat to Boomers in the United States, as I mentioned in my previous post. But in South Korea, age discrimination is so culturally ingrained that companies routinely force workers over 60 into retirement.

An enterprising Korean, Chung Eunsung, has come up with a terrific solution to rampant ageism: He started EverYoung, a technology company that practices a different kind of blatant discrimination: The company hires only workers who are 55 years of age and older, many of whom are former engineers and mathematicians. EverYoung's oldest employee is 83.

Chung told Tech Wire Asia, “I believe by employing seniors, we help to improve their quality of life and welfare. Korea is aging and the phenomenon is accelerating, so we believe their participation in our economy would, in fact, revitalize it, as well as breathe some life into the aging society.” The company requires its employees to take a 10-minute break every hour, and the work is performed in 4-hour shifts. Benefits include a stocked pantry, sofas and books in a break area, and use of a blood pressure machine.

Kim Seong-Kyu, a manager at EverYoung, said the company's older employees, unlike younger employees, are detail-oriented and they work diligently without being distracted. The employees monitor blog content, among other things. "They are full of passion," Kim said. "The time they have, and their interest in this work, are primarily why they come to work."

Just imagine if one or more American companies were able to follow such a model. It could revolutionize the way American business operates, solve senior unemployment, and change attitudes toward aging, all in one fell swoop. I'd love to see an American entrepreneur have the guts and wisdom to create an EverYoung look-alike in this country. Of course, the irony is that such a company here would probably be sued for discriminating against younger employees! Still, we can dream, can't we?


No Easy Solution to Age Discrimination

MusingsIf you'd like to get an eye-opening perspective on age discrimination, read Chris Farrell's recent article on NextAvenue.org. He discusses a Supreme Court case which essentially sided with R. J. Reynolds, a company that allegedly discriminated against a 49-year old highly qualified job applicant named Richard Villarreal. Despite the 50-year old Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which in theory protects those 40 years and older from age discrimination in the workplace, the Supreme Court let a lower court ruling stand; Farrell writes "The courts dismissed Villarreal’s suit saying the ADEA claim he brought only protected existing employees, not job applicants. The courts also agreed with Reynolds that Villarreal hadn’t 'diligently' pursued why he didn’t hear back about his application."

Farrell points out "The Supreme Court and many lower courts increasingly defer to employers on hiring and employment decisions when it comes to what the ADEA calls 'reasonable factors other than age.' (For example, employers can justify as a reasonable business decision laying off their most expensive workers who happen to have seniority and are mostly older.)"

So if there is no legal recourse when you believe you have been discriminated against because of your age, what can you do? Chris Farrell has some excellent suggestions, but all of them put the onus on Congress or the federal EEOC to take action.

Farrell makes an impassioned plea to government and industry to institute a kind of hiring known as "safe harbor," along with training programs for older workers: "The timing may be propitious for an experiment combining safe-harbor hiring and well-funded training programs for older workers. After eight years of steady economic growth and an unemployment rate at 4.4 percent, employers are currently looking for workers. Yet management too often seems blind to the opportunities available from recruiting older applicants with skills, knowledge and experience."

Sadly, there is no easy solution to age discrimination, which puts many Boomers at risk in the job market. Maybe this is one reason an increasing number of Boomers choose to work for themselves.

Read Farrell's thoughtful article here: http://www.nextavenue.org/the-supreme-court-turns-its-back-on-age-discrimination/


Americans are Still Not Saving Enough for Retirement

MusingsIt is no wonder that more and more Boomers are staying in the workforce, maintaining either full-time or part-time positions or working for themselves. Many Boomers need to continue to work, because surveys indicate that Americans simply are not saving enough for retirement.

For example, a new AARP survey of 1,500 middle income workers ages 40 to 59 confirms that retirement savings take a back seat to other financial needs. According to AARP, "76 percent of respondents have accomplished significant financial goals such as buying a home, while more than 70 percent have paid off mortgages, student loans or credit card balances. Some 67 percent have saved for a family vacation. 

"But just 48 percent say they’ve saved enough to live comfortably through retirement. Nearly 30 percent say they forgo essentially free money by failing to get the full employer match in company-sponsored retirement plans; nearly 25 percent aren’t using recommended savings tactics such as setting aside automatic paycheck deductions."

AARP believes the problem is so serious that the organization has launched an interactive coaching tool to help people squirrel away retirement savings.

Under-funded retirement is really no surprise. Consider how the very nature of work and retirement has changed during our lifetime. It is exceedingly rare for an employee to remain at a company for many years, and just as rare for a company nowadays to provide a pension plan. Some companies offer to match retirement contributions made by employees, but the employee still has to pay into the plan from wages earned. Ironically, some jobs many once considered poor career choices from a monetary perspective, such as teaching or mid-level government positions, could now be considered attractive because of their health insurance or pension benefits.

In addition, the cost of goods and services continues to rise even as workers' wages remain stagnant. The average American family often has two incomes, but that is hardly enough to cover more than the basics of life. What if that family wants to send a child to college? It is likely they would have to start saving for that college education when the child is a toddler. Add to this the reality of monthly rent or mortgage payments, credit card debt, and putting aside some money for an emergency, and it is pretty obvious that saving for retirement is not a priority.

The fact is, "retirement" is just not a possibility for millions of Americans. There are many conditions that need to change for most people to be able to consider retiring. Boomers are often credited with redefining retirement, but I suspect part of the reason we are redefining retirement is not just because we want to, but because we have to. 


Ever Wonder What Other Boomers Do for Work?

OntheClockWorking past the previously accepted retirement age of 65 is now commonplace. Most Boomers want to, or have to, work into their 70s and perhaps even beyond. So what are all these Boomers doing for work?

It turns out that an increasing percentage of Boomers start their own businesses, or work independently as freelancers in what has become known as the "gig economy." According to recent data cited by Nancy Collamer in her article about the gig economy for Next Avenue, freelancers/consultants/temps and on-call workers (i.e., "independents") make up 31 percent of the private workforce. For those 53 years and older, the percentage is 35 percent. Nancy offers some valuable tips on how Boomers can enter the gig economy.

So what jobs do the rest of us hold? Zippia, a new career site intended for recent college graduates, shares some interesting data in an article entitled "The Jobs You'll Work When You Retire." The five most common jobs for those over 65, according to Zippia, are motor vehicle operators (this includes taxis, trucks, etc.), embalmers/funeral attendants (really!), crossing guards, models/demonstrators/product promoters, and tax preparers.

Another data point is jobs with the most older workers. These jobs include: accountants, lawyers,nurses, physicians, retail salespeople, senior managers, and teachers/professors. It is also a fact that, in general, average workers age 60 to 74 are paid more in hourly wages than average workers age 25 to 59.

Check out the Zippia article for more details to learn what other Boomers do for work: https://www.zippia.com/advice/jobs-youll-work-retire/


How Tech Savvy are Seniors?

MediaThe respected Pew Research Center recently shared in-depth statistics about the use of technology by older adults in the U.S. The data presents a fascinating look at people like you and me who utilize smartphones and the Internet.

To put things into perspective, Pew defines "older adults" as those of us who are 65 years of age and older. That is currently 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population. That percentage is projected to grow to 22 percent by 2050. Almost half (42 percent) of these older adults own a smartphone now, a dramatic increase from 18 percent in 2013. Over two-thirds (67 percent) use the Internet, and 51 percent now have broadband connectivity at home. About one-third (32 percent) own tablet computers.

Younger seniors are more tech savvy than older seniors, reports the Pew Research Center:

"Seniors ages 65 to 69 are about twice as likely as those ages 80 and older to say they ever go online (82% vs. 44%) or have broadband at home (66% vs. 28%), and they are roughly four times as likely to say they own smartphones (59% vs. 17%)."

Another aspect of smartphone ownership, Internet usage, and broadband connectivity is not surprising: the more affluent the senior, the higher the usage and availability of technology.

Generally, seniors have a positive impression of technology:

"Fully 58% of adults ages 65 and older say technology has had a mostly positive impact on society, while roughly three-quarters of internet-using seniors say they go online on a daily basis – and nearly one-in-ten go online almost constantly."

The use of social media is mixed. A majority of seniors do not use social media, with just 34 percent saying they ever use social media networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. However, 45 percent of seniors under the age of 75 say they ever use social media.

One of the more telling barriers to technology adoption is confidence. According to Pew Research Center, "just 26% of internet users ages 65 and over say they feel very confident when using computers, smartphones or other electronic devices to do the things they need to do online. ... Roughly one-third describe themselves as only a little (23%) or not at all (11%) confident in their ability to use electronic devices to do necessary online activities."

For me, the data validates what I generally believe about technology usage. As a blogger and digital marketer who has made use of technology for a long time, I know that my comfort level with smartphones and the Internet is higher than many of my generational peers. However, I definitely relate to the relatively low usage of social media by seniors; while I blog and actively use LinkedIn and Twitter for professional purposes, I am not engaged with Facebook.

 Hopefully the data from the Pew Research Center helps you have a better understanding of tech usage by seniors. How does your use of technology fit with others in your age group?