From the time we enter the job market, the idea of the traditional career path leading up to retirement has been an accepted “norm” in society. Working up the career ladder, experiencing job growth and becoming professionally established were considered milestones on the path to retirement, and the goal of not working another day.
But in the past five years, that traditional paradigm of work and the idea of retirement has changed for some professionals. Many are experiencing a “second act” within their professional lives, which now includes part-time freelancing. In the New York Times article “Over 50 and Freelancing to Fill the Gaps in Retirement Funds”, Lisa Marsh, president of the AARP Foundation, commented “We really need to bust the myth that each of us works until a defined age and then have a defined retirement period.”
According to findings highlighted by the AARP in the January 18 2023 article, “High on Priority List for Older Workers: Meaningful Employment and Flexibility” between 2005 and 2017, the percentage of people fifty-five and older working as independent contractors, freelancers and other types of on-call workers increased. Further, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonpartisan labor-related think tank, the demographic of workers aged 55 to 64 rose from 18.8 percent in 2005 to 22.9 percent in 2017. For those ages sixty-five and older, the share climbed from 8.5 percent to 14.1 percent.
When competing for freelance opportunities, this demographic has the distinct advantage of possessing years of work experience over younger workers. This experience provides these seasoned professionals with a specialized body of knowledge that can often only be curated over time. For this reason, hiring managers are looking more closely at retirees as these professionals can typically execute high-quality work reliably with minimal training.
To put a finer point on this, according to the March 2023 issue of Forbes, one of the top areas where older workers are pursuing freelancing opportunities remains in consulting. “Consulting is extremely popular,” says Chris Kampitsis, a financial planner at The SKG Team at Barnum Financial Group in Elmsford, New York. “[The] reality is in many industries it is very difficult to replace the knowledge of today’s retirees and perhaps more cost effective to retain an experienced employee part-time than to train a new employee and provide benefits, etc.”
However, finding the best freelance opportunities that align with a retiree’s priorities can be challenging in a tight job market. And as a result, many mature freelancers are looking towards talent platforms to help them find their next opportunity that aligns to their desired flexibility, community, and income. “The desire to work, in part, comes from a financial place, but it also does transcend beyond that to a desire to be engaged in the world,” adds Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
As today’s gig-economy continues to evolve, the number of older workers who freelance is projected to grow substantially over the next decade, offering employers a prime opportunity to build a more age-diverse and inclusive workforce. It’s time to rethink the concept of retirement after a certain age and think of this trend as a fresh second act in one’s career.
If you are a freelance professional looking to explore your “second act” at top companies, connect with a TALENT SHIFT® team member. With endless potential to explore new career paths, develop new skills and expand your professional circle, the TALENT SHIFT team is ready help you navigate the world of gig work and identify a flexible career path.
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