The work landscape for boomers promises to be unconventional in 2014. Employment trends have transformed, leaving middle-aged people with more alternatives and difficult choices. Change leads to challenges. Boomers face the spectre of ageism as younger wage earners enter the job market.
Boomer Entrepreneurship as a Necessity
Sarah Baldwin, from Highland Park, IL, is a creative freelancer and blogger in support of struggling boomers at Kool-aid Rehab for Bright-eyed Entrepreneurs. “There’s a perception that experienced people are too expensive to hire,” she said. “So the price of great talent is going down.”
To escape the inevitable onslaught of younger cheaper talent, Baldwin decided to work for herself. “I became an entrepreneur by necessity,” she said. “There are no opportunities for boomers.” She has partnered her talents with a company specializing in recovery wear, Goodnighties.com. The freelance marketer liked its product so much, she arranged to become its exclusive marketing and sales rep.
It was a deal made in the trenches. But Baldwin had special reasons to align with the online company offering recovery night wear for women with body temperature issues – over 40-years-olds or those undergoing chemotherapy.
Baldwin had suffered from sleeplessness and found the company’s product line beneficial for her. Goodnighties.com is still a work-in-progress, but Baldwin is working hard to promote a product of personal interest. “It’s make your own way,” she said. “Boy is it hard.”
Sabbaticals for Successful Boomers
Bill Van Eron – CMO of Headwaters Marketing – was born in 1946 in the first wave of boomers. He works out of Fort Collins, CO, in strategic PR and integrated research and communications for high-profile clients like Hewlett-Packard.
Over the past year, he has transformed his work and personal goals by capping recruitment with new clients. At 67, he has taken a partial sabbatical or GAP year. Similar to Baldwin, he advocates personal business values.
“People need to depend on a special sense of trust,” he said. On a practical level, Van Eron feels the pressure of a new, upcoming generation. “I don’t want to compete with young college grads and their cool design firms when I can re-envision my personal purpose.”
For Van Eron, a looming issue facing Boomers is to go beyond traditional retirement. “Retirement has taken on negative connotations. We almost need to invent another word.”
Telecommuting – The Flexible Alternative
Flexible work – telecommuting – has become a growing trend for boomers and will continue into 2014.
In 2006, Sara Sutton Fell was seven months pregnant and laid off. She began looking for flexible home-based work. “I was really astonished by all the scams in the niche,” she said. She came up with the idea for FlexJobs, a place where qualified workers could find flexible professional online work. She hatched FlexJobs in 2007; a company she said has helped over 650,000 job seekers in their search for adaptable work hours.
FlexJobs attracts boomers who need to remain in the work force, and others who want to stay active and involved. “The nature of how, when, and where we work has changed so much in the last decade,” said the FlexJobs CEO. “Many professionals are opting for telecommuting.”
These are sample work situations that boomers will create of find available in 2014. The trick is to discover the right fit.