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Employment for the Silent Generation

Author: Helen Dennis, Specialist on Aging

Question: I am turning 65 and wonder if there are companies that particularly hire those over 60.  I am a pre-baby boomer and just beginning to grasp the changing thought process on this subject.  I want to continue working part time or full time.      

Answer: Employment in mid- to later life is a hot topic for millions of Americans who are equating employment with survival, quality of life and security.  Difficulty in thinking about work at 65 may be linked to being a member of the Silent Generation.

The term Silent Generation was first coined by Time Magazine in a 1951 cover story.  Historian and author William Manchester wrote that this generation was “withdrawn, cautious, unimaginative, indifferent, unadventurous and silent.”

The Silents, born between 1925 and 1945, are few in number and, some say, misunderstood. They launched the Civil Rights and women’s movements with Martin Luther King Jr. and Gloria Steinem.  They produced the greatest comedians, psychiatrists and songwriters and created the 1960 surge of the helping professions.  They also have been described as cautious, risk averse and valuing security.

College students studied to become teachers or engineers; many women went for their “Mrs. Degree.”  The Silents were polite and had the lowest rate of   crime, suicide, illegitimate births and teen unemployment in the 20th century.

Because of their small number, Silents had little competition in the labor market.    If they worked hard, showed up on time and did a good job, job security was a given.  Now consider them being 65 and thinking about employment.  It seems out of context, considering the generational history of security.

But given the economic realities of today, an increasing number of men and women in their 60s are looking for employment opportunities.

AARP recently published the “Top 20 Retirement Jobs and Industries.”  Among them:  nursing; health-care technician; teaching assistant; contract or temporary professional; grocery retailing; accounting and finance; insurance and investment services; home health care or personal aide; hospitality and food-service staff;  small employers; and federal, state and municipal governments.

AARP also has a National Employer Team that recognizes that older workers make up an important part of the workforce.  They acknowledge their leadership, experience and skills to do the job.

Several of these employers have a presence in the South Bay:  The Home Depot, Borders Books & Music; CVS/Pharmacy; Walgreens; Toys R Us/Babies R Us; Staples; Home Instead Senior Care; IRS; Office of Disaster Assistance; and Avis Budget Group/ABG.

There are many job sites for older workers.  The one affiliated with AARP is  Their Web site notes:  “Search full time, part time and flexible jobs from age friendly employers.”  Similar Web sites include, and the

What do employers want regardless of age?  Most are looking for computer literacy, flexibility, initiative to learn, being the ability to be a team player, the ability to make decisions, and the potential for high performance. An “easy” and pleasant personality helps.

Being prepared is key at any age.  Know your strengths and weaknesses; present a functional rather than chronological résumé; have good interview skills; present a professional appearance; know something about the company with whom you are interviewing; ask good questions and be a good listener.

To discourage the possibility of ageism, do not mention the “good old days.”  If there is an opportunity to refer to an energetic activity such a bicycling, jogging or tennis, do so.  Energy is often associated with youth.  And if you have learned something new recently, mention that also.  Your comments will dispel myths about older workers as being stuck in the past, having low energy and resistant to learning something new.

Perhaps the most important thing for you consider is to be strategic.  Assess your abilities and skills, determine your transferable skills and then identify industries known to hire and appreciate mature workers.

For more information, go to

Thank you for your good question and best wishes for a successful search.

© Helen Dennis 2010, all rights reserved.

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