Jobs That Welcome Older Workers

Emily Brandon

Workers over 50 often have an especially difficult time landing a new position. But there are jobs that welcome older workers and even recruit them. A recent Center for Retirement Research at Boston College study identified several types of jobs that disproportionately hire workers ages 50 and older. Here are some of the ways to find jobs that want older workers:

Connect with similarly aged customers. Many employers want to hire baby boomers who have good communication skills and will be able to effectively sell products to older customers. Retail sales jobs such as sales demonstrators are projected to grow by 10 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and many of the positions are expected to be filled by older people. "At Costco and BJ's or other big box stores you'll often find them giving away food samples or demonstrating products, and those are the jobs that are fairly well staffed by older workers who are good at communication," says Matthew Rutledge, a research economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and co-author of the report.

Being able to relate to customers can also be helpful in a medical setting. "One of the hottest areas is in-home elder care," says Tim Driver, CEO and founder of RetirementJobs.com. "You are rewarded for being closer in age to the person you are caring for."

Seek flexible scheduling. While young and middle-aged people tend to want to work full time, people closer to retirement are often open to a more flexible schedule. Jobs with flexible scheduling that are especially likely to hire older workers include crossing guards, taxi drivers and messengers and couriers, CRR found. "If it's got flexible scheduling, it's a lot easier for an older worker to work that job around their other needs," Rutledge says.

Emphasize your unique skills. Older workers might also be hired to fill vacancies in industries with declining employment opportunities, such as tailors, dressmakers and seamstresses, but few young people who possess the necessary skills. "They find something they like doing and then they find a way to get paid for that," says Anne Ward, a certified financial planner for Allodium Investment Consultants in Minneapolis. "Whether it's beading, pottery or selling artwork, people take their creative passion and then turn it into income."

Consider hobby jobs. Employment opportunities for older workers who want to be guides are prolific at museums or historical sites. And those who are interested in travel might be able to find work as transportation attendants at train stations or airport terminals, CRR found. But these relatively fun jobs may not pay much, with both jobs paying a median wage of about $11 per hour, according to the BLS.

Highlight your up-to-date skills. Of course, there are also many industries that rarely hire workers over 50. Obviously, physically strenuous and somewhat dangerous jobs, including drillers of oil wells and roofers, tend not to hire new older workers. Science jobs that require impeccably up-to-date skills, such as pharmacists, chemists and even dental assistants, tend to hire younger people, likely reflecting a lack of older workers who have kept up with the latest medical advancements. "Jobs that are associated with being retrained constantly and continuing to update your skills are less likely to be associated with lots of hiring of older workers," Rutledge says. "With the science-heavy jobs there could be a perception by employers that they are not going to be keeping up to date with the latest technology or the latest findings." If you want to continue to work in a science job, it's especially important to stay current with continuing developments within the field.

Pique the employer's interest. Older workers can fit into nearly any industry if their talents and skills match up with the employer's needs. "The best way to make yourself attractive to an employer is to figure out what is attractive about you to the employer, your utility of match for the job," Driver says. "If the key customer is older customers, it usually benefits the company to put someone on the phone who is closer in age."

Emily Brandon is the senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. You can contact her on Twitter @aiming2retire, circle her on Google+ or email her at ebrandon@usnews.com.