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How To Continue Working In Retirement (And Still Be Happy)

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Michael Herndon, Working In Retirement

With Michael Herndon, VP for Financial Resilience at AARP

The airwaves are filled with negative stories about older folk struggling to find a second career.  However, a recent article from AARP stated that while it’s not easy finding a job later in life, many are able to do it.  Steve’s guest, Michael Herndon, Vice President for Financial Resilience at AARP, shows us how.

Financial Resilience

Financial Resilience is how AARP wants its members to think about money issues, so they remain financially strong, are resilient against shocks, are able to produce income and build assets, and have choice and financial independence throughout their lives.

Michael cites the case of a woman who grew up in a family that fixed things on their own and went on to become a tool rental associate at Home Depot in her later years.  And for the first time in her life, she loves what she’s doing.  It’s about doing something that you’re passionate about and capitalizing on it.  Such people also make great employees.  This lady’s advice for others is “Be persistent, and don’t underestimate your talents.”

Update Your Skills, Learn New Ones

Another key trait and common thread to finding meaningful employment later in life is staying tech savvy and learning new skills.

Michael gives us the example of someone who at 58 applied for a job at Wheel of Fortune, his favorite television show and didn’t get it at first.  He then improved his skills, kept striving, and at age 60, got to be the Director of the show,  finally hitting this position that he’s really happy about.  This gentleman’s words of wisdom were, “Always be open to learning something else.  Even people in their 50s need to take the time to watch and learn.

Stay Connected

The other common thread to fruitful employment in your later years is networking, staying connected, and building on and leveraging your contacts.  As another successful AARP member put it, “network incessantly” and the jobs will come.

Michael recommends thinking about the kind of work environment you want and then building your resume around those employers in that particular sector.

Another woman was a private banker who wanted to live near family, so she took a job as a family office advisor so she could move to where her family was.  Her secret was, “I developed meaningful relationships with those I work with and I stay in touch.”

So, building networks and staying in touch with those in your field and your profession is a recurring theme to finding job success later in life.

While some people over the age of 50 dread the idea of looking for a job—and it’s not that easy—if you have the talent and keep your skills up-to-date, there’s a good chance you’ll get the job you’re looking for.

So, for those over 50, the message here is “don’t be afraid.” There are opportunities out there, but you need to sometimes re-tool, re-educate, stay connected, and leverage your network for new opportunities.  To learn more, visit AARP.org/work for tips on staying employed and for inspirational stories from others who have walked in your shoes.


Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital.  Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.  Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances.  The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.

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Steve Pomeranz: You know, the airwaves are filled with lots of negative stories about individuals who are struggling in our society, especially older folks who struggle to find a second career.  However, a recent article from AARP stated that while it’s not easy finding a job later in life, many are able to do it. And then they wrote an article highlighting 6 people who prove it can be done.  My guest is Michael Herndon.  He’s Vice President for Financial Resilience at AARP.  Hi, Michael. Welcome to the program.

Michael Herndon: Hello.  Thank you very much.  Happy to be with you today.

Steve Pomeranz: I have one quick question before we get started.  The title, the department “Financial Resilience.” What exactly is that?

Michael Herndon: Financial Resilience is a way that we approach money issues in AARP.  We look at it as people have the ability to remain strong financially, so they’re resilient against shocks, and they’re able to produce income and build assets and have choice and independence throughout their lives.  We see a resiliency that we hope they have financially, throughout their lives.

Steve Pomeranz: Oh, that’s quite interesting.  I’d never heard that before, so was very curious as to what you guys were thinking.  The first example in the article was someone who actually managed an office for a dog training company but is now a tool rental associate at the Home Depot.  Tell us about that.

Michael Herndon: Yes.  It’s an interesting story in that she grew up in a family that fixed things on their own.  I think that must have been ingrained in her because she says now, for the first time in her life, she loves what she’s doing.  It’s maybe something that you grew up doing, or it’s something that’s innate.  You get a job and you go out to your career, and then you by chance, come back around to something that is a passion, and we see that in a number of instances, where the 50+ worker, they’re really able to identify those things that they’re passionate about and capitalize on that, and that’s why they can often make such great employees because they’re really engaging in what’s a passion to them.

Steve Pomeranz: This person was Tracy, and she was from Douglasville, Georgia, and her advice that you stated in the article was, “Be persistent, and don’t underestimate your talents.” Right?

Michael Herndon: Right.  I think there’s a thread that we’ve seen throughout.  A lot of the people in the stories were talking about being persistent and continually striving and pushing forward, and some were saying, “Staying tech savvy and learn new skills and update this profile,” but I think you see that as a common thread throughout the stories, of that strive forward.

Steve Pomeranz: You also listed a job this was really quite interesting.  The old job was the technical director on the Wheel of Fortune, and the new job was the director at the Wheel of Fortune.  Tell us about that.

Michael Herndon: Yeah.  That’s a great story, because I love the fact that he said, again, you kind of hear this passion coming through where he had seen, when he was a child, watching a TV show, and that made him realize what he wanted to do, and being in television and production and stayed with it at an age when many people think that people are not looking forward.  This person tried twice.  At 58, applied for the job and didn’t get it, and he improved his skills.  He kept striving, and at age 60 got to be the director, and finally hit this position that he’s really happy about and in a fun environment, a game show.

Steve Pomeranz: Right.  You know, what’s interesting about this story, too, is that he had 38 years in the industry, but Wheel of Fortune was on for 24 years.  It looks like it’s still going strong, because they obviously continue on and on and on.  I guess that’s that the …

Michael Herndon: Yeah.  I think it speaks to, he hopped on a good wheel there, and it’s taking a ride, and it’s 24 years, and he stayed with the show and ended up in a good place.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.  His words of wisdom were, “Always be open to learning something else.  Even people in their 50s need to take the time to watch and learn.” Let’s move on to Jennifer from Atlanta.  She was 55, and her old job was a human relations consultant, and her new job is a human relations consultant.  Why did she change?

Michael Herndon: You know, you see that, I think 50+ workers mirror a lot of things that happen to every worker.  Some of them decide, “I want some new line of work,” and just like other people, she got laid off.  It was a corporate cutting back on costs, and through, I guess, certainly being an HR consultant, knows that networking is so key, and that was the other thing that I picked up on in reading all these stories.

And we look at these people as that they all talked about networking and staying connected and building on your contacts and leveraging your contacts, and that’s what certainly she knew to do was to, she said, “Network incessantly.” By doing that, a job came along.  It wasn’t a job fair or a look scanning a website.  It was at a volleyball game, and she came across an opportunity through networking and talking and being open, and found a position.  Then, found an open job, and few weeks later, had the job.

Steve Pomeranz: Yeah.  You know, she also mentioned, or it was written in the article that she had 25 years of human resource experience, and when she updated her resume, the recruiter advised her to remove that information that bragged about her 25 years of experience.  “Why let them know you’re in your 50s?,” asked the recruiter.  What do you think about that?

Michael Herndon: Yeah.  I look at that and think, “Well, there’s certainly different schools of thought about what to do.” When you show up for an interview, it’s likely that someone’s not going to think that you’re just out of college, and certainly the Old Americans Act protects workers over 40 from age discrimination, but I think you have to think about what kind of environment do you want to be in.  Do you want to be in an environment where if they’re not going to hire you because they think you have 25 years of experience and that may indicate …

Steve Pomeranz: That’s a good point.

Michael Herndon: …  A certain age, what is it going to be like when you get there, and people maybe won’t listen to you?  They don’t find your input very valuable because they think you’re not really in touch.  I would say, be very careful about what kind of environment you want to be in in the first place, and then build your resume around those employers and that situation, and then move forward.

Steve Pomeranz: Some of the people in the article, well, you mentioned one person and they moved or they had to change because there was downsizing.  Another, of course, we mentioned that he had the opportunity to try to improve his skills and do a job, a dream job for him, but some people move because they want to move to a new location.  It’s not necessarily something that’s foist upon them, but it’s a decision maybe for family reasons, or whatever.  You mentioned Angel Herrera from Plano, Texas. He was the COO of Student Housing, and his new job was COO of Student Housing, but …  Well, no.  Actually in this case, Angel’s employer wanted him to relocate, but he didn’t want to.  Go ahead.

Michael Herndon: Correct.  We have another case where the person wanted to relocate, so again, I think it mirrors all types of workers.  Some want to move, some want a new job because they don’t want to move.  I think that shows that for one, it shows that 50+ workers are going to have some of the very same demands, and we’ve done some other research that shows the reason that a lot of them look for new jobs is the same as someone in their 30s.  Most of the time it’s they want more money.  They typically are just as happy with flexibility and certain things as others, so I think you’re going to see where some of them say, “No, I want to stay where my family is,” and other says, “I want to move where my family is.” Any of that genesis for job searching I think is going to be very similar to anybody else, it’s just certainly for a 50+ person, they often have been in a job so long that they’ve not looked for a job in a long time.

Steve Pomeranz: Angel updated his LinkedIn profile, and through networking, he heard about this other company that develops student housing in Europe and the Middle East, and now he’s the COO of that company, and he says that, “I’m stronger, I’m driven and better connected in my 50s, than I ever was in my 40s.”

Michael Herndon: That’s certainly what we see in a lot of our research, is that the personal satisfaction at their age in their jobs, they’re very happy with what they’re doing, so again, that brings back to you’re able to capitalize on that passion that they have.

Steve Pomeranz: Claire Rizotti from West Bloomfield, Michigan was a private banker at Citibank, and she wanted to live near her family, and she took a job as a family office advisor for Greenleaf Trust, a family office.  What did she say?  She said that her secret was, “I developed meaningful relationships with those I work with and I stay in touch,” I guess more than networking thing.

Michael Herndon: Yes, again, it comes back to that networking, staying connected, and it’s obviously good advice for anybody in their careers.  Building networks and being in touch with your field and your profession.

Steve Pomeranz: Very good.  Finally, Jeff Devond aged 57 from Charlotte, North Carolina, actually it sounds, I feel like I’m on the Wheel of Fortune right now, you know?  I want to introduce Jeff Devond from Charlotte.  His old job was director of sales at Alabama Motor Express, and he took a new job as sales VP of the Tire Group International.  He’s 57, and his advice was, “Use your contacts and experience and keep your LinkedIn profile up to date,” but he was approached by a head hunter.

Michael Herndon: Yeah.  It’s interesting.  As you say, some people over 50 dread the idea that they’re going to be looking for a job or having to go look for a job.  It’s not as easy, but, in this instance, obviously it shows that there are people who out of the blue were recruited by a head hunter, and that’s a great story because you’re seeing that somebody said, “We need the talent, and this person has the talent that we need,” regardless of any other aspect about the individual.

Steve Pomeranz: I think one of the key takeaways here is …  I’m sorry.  Go ahead.

Michael Herndon: No, he obviously had the example of using the networks and, not to find the job, but by using the networks, by being in that contacts and LinkedIn, that’s what elevated him to be head hunted into a new position.

Steve Pomeranz: I guess the message here is don’t be afraid, that there are opportunities out there, but you need to sometimes re-tool what you’ve been doing. You need to reeducate, you need to stay connected with colleagues, and a LinkedIn seems to be an important factor here, but again, once again, to know that experience is valued in the marketplace, and so when you hit your 50s and your 60s, it’s not over by any means.  My guest is Michael Herndon.  I’m sorry, Vice President of Financial Resilience at AARP.  Final words, Michael?

Michael Herndon: Just check out AARP.org/work and a lot of these stories and the information and the things that these people are telling you to do, we have information on how to use them right there.

Steve Pomeranz: Very good.  Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.

Michael Herndon: Thank you.