Can boomers go backward? Not so much

Plenty of baby boomers get bored with retirement and want to go back and pick up where they left off. But London’s Tom Curtin, a reputation management consultant, says it’s not so easy… maybe even not possible at all. He says we need a dose of realism in the jobs market.

Would your 30 year-old self hire you?

Think back 30 or so years. You are young, in your first managerial job, and you need to hire someone into your team. You sit down with the Personnel Department— that’s what they called Human Remains in those days— and you come up with a job description, something like:

Junior Executive
We’re looking for a dynamic and ambitious graduate to join our rapidly growing division, etc, etc, etc

You’ve seen the ads; you’ve probably written them. Now go over to the mirror and ask yourself: Do I fit the job description?’

On paper, sure, you’ve got all the qualifications and more. You’ve got experience.

Will you get interviewed? Probably not. And if you are, it’ll be tokenism.

Pour yourself a strong one, before opening the inevitable rejection email. Then read it. You may console yourself: It’s ageism. Spot on. And that’s not legal or right. But you can’t prove it and they know it and you know it.

There’s lots of us out there. We’ve been lured by that siren called early retirement. Days on the golf course, touring the country in a Winnebago, all those books you meant to read but never did.

And at 50-plus, you’ve probably got decades more on the planet. After 30 or more years of work it’s become a habit and like all habits it’s an addictive one.

Your social life revolves around work. You probably met your life spouse there (40% of us, according to one survey). You probably also met the one who caused the divorce (I can’t find the numbers for some reason). It’s where you have your friends and your life focus.

And as you hit 60 you’re bored senseless. The golf handicap is 23; the Winnebago is rusting in the driveway, and all those books were boring. The active mind hasn’t taken to retirement. It wants some action, it needs a life focus. So you foolishly start applying for jobs. But then there is the inevitable rejection.

Tom Curtin.

So, what do you do if you want to re-enter the world of work?

First, get real. You’re not going back in the same place, at the same salary, in the same position. Ever. You cannot go back to where you left off. The vacuum has already been filled by a 20, 30 or 40-year-old something.

Second, you’re not even going back at the lower levels. There is a natural human discomfort about bossing your mum or pop, especially when they know the job better than you.

Third, get the hell out of the house. Get a structure back in your life. There are hundreds of blogs and books out there about this.

And they can be summed up as DSFT: Do Some F***ing Thing.


Tom’s book, which you can buy here, is “Land of the Free: An Irish Odyssey in America.”

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