Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Recruiting the Retired Community

We’re entering the age of the “Golden Boomers” — retired or soon-to-be retired baby boomers — but most of them don’t view retirement as their “golden years.” Many plan on pushing back retirement or expect to find new work to pad their incomes.

The biggest job growth has been seen in the 55 and older demographic, which is responsible for 3.2 million new workers since 2001, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’re entering the age of the “Golden Boomers” — retired or soon-to-be retired baby boomers — but most of them don’t view retirement as their “golden years.” Many plan on pushing back retirement or expect to find new work to pad their incomes. The Wall Street Journal reports that 68 percent of current workers expect to work after they retire and AARP published that 8 out of 10 baby boomers plan to work in retirement. Since more and more seniors want to work (in some cases, employers prefer their skills over younger workers), it’s smart to target ads that recruit the retired. One reason that reps should target this audience, of course, is that they’re avid newspaper readers.

Although 50-plus-year-old workers have been construed as costly, less industrious and inflexible, there have been a number of reports that combat these stereotypes. There is evidence that shows that older employees are stabile, eager and have varied work experience. The AARP published a study that shows older employees:

• Have a lower rate of absenteeism

• Have superior customer service skills

• Have better people skills

• Have a commitment to quality

• Have a positive attitude

• Are less likely to switch jobs

• Are eager to learn new skills

• Are punctual

These are excellent reasons to hire older workers, especially for jobs that are heavily customer based. Many retailers and vendors prefer older employees because they’re more patient with customers and really strive to engage with them. Often seniors want the social interaction and stimulation the job provides, and they tend to work harder because they feel like they’re contributing something productive and honorable to their workplace. Another incentive for employers to hire retired workers is that it can save on medical costs in some cases. Thomas Regional conducted a survey of small business owners nationwide, and 63 percent say that providing healthcare coverage for their employees is their number one challenge. By hiring retired workers part-time, it saves the cost of benefits. Since Medicare benefits starts at age 65, insurance benefits become less of an incentive for retirees. Medicare can be used as the primary insurer in most cases (the employer’s can be secondary). Many retirees do not or cannot quit working, so the need for work in the demographic is increasing and employers are taking advantage.

Here are a couple fields that are popular among retirees right now:

Health care: health care facilities like to hire older professionals. Their clients are aging, and older professionals are frequently excellent caregivers. These jobs are often flexible and give retirees an opportunity to do something meaningful, which are both important factors for older workers seeking jobs.

Retail (especially seasonal work): job openings are common and most of these jobs offer flexible hours and part-time employment. Because seniors tend to have impressive experience in customer service and engagement, retail stores welcome older workers because they want to make customers happy.

Volunteer work: while many seniors or recently retired need employment to add income, others just want a meaningful way to spend their time.

How to Advertise to the Retired:

Word choice is especially important when designing ads for retirees. Ads that emphasize “fresh thinking” or “energy” may suggest that a younger audience is the target. Try words like “knowledge,” “experienced” and “expertise” in your ads to appeal to older workers, be sure to include clear contact information and use an active voice. The AARP conducted a survey that questioned seniors on what they see as important to succeed on the job; retirees want adequate time off, respect from supervisors and flexibility. These results can be used to gear advertising as well. Age discrimination is an issue with recruiting retirees — seniors commonly won’t apply to general positions because they think they won’t even be considered for the job. Some think that their skills and abilities don’t qualify them for currently offered jobs. Employers that want to take advantage of the skills, reliability and experiences that retirees offer should target them specifically.