8 Things Companies Say Older Workers Should Do to Stay Employable

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Many older workers want — or need — to remain on the job as long as possible. But keeping your career moving forward can be difficult as you age and the workplace changes.

The best way to remain an asset in your employer’s eyes is to stay competitive. Older workers who keep pace with or surpass the output of younger workers will always be highly valued.

Recently, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies issued its annual retirement survey. As part of that report, Transamerica asked employers to recommend steps that older workers can take to ensure they will be able to work as long as possible.

Following are the tips that employers offer to today’s older workers.

1. Stay healthy

working out
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 64%

Workers who said they do this: 58%

Perhaps you want to work well into your senior years. And maybe your employer would love to keep you on the job for many years to come.

However, poor health can quickly scuttle those work dreams. Almost one-quarter — 22.6% — of people 65 and older describe their health as fair or poor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, take care of yourself and make sure to avoid the “7 Fatal Health Mistakes People Make After Age 50.”

2. Keep your job skills up to date

Senior using a laptop
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 62%

Workers who said they do this: 49%

The workplace is changing fast, with artificial intelligence threatening to upend how we do our jobs. That means it is more important than ever to keep your skills current.

It is interesting to note the large gap between the percentage of employers who recommend older workers brush up on their skills and the smaller share of workers who say they actually are heeding that advice.

Need help getting started? Check out the “5 Colleges Helping Seniors Start New Careers.”

3. Perform well at your current job

Senior man working in agriculture
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 60%

Workers who said they do this: 54%

As our hair grows grayer, it often seems like the world around us gets younger and younger. That fact can sometimes make it tempting to throw in the towel and let the whippersnappers take center stage.

But such a defeatist attitude is unlikely to make you more attractive to employers. Working hard and succeeding mightily at your current job every day is one of the best ways to ensure you remain employed.

4. Take classes to learn new skills

Senior Student
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 43%

Workers who said they do this: 24%

Sometimes, going back to school is the best way to stay on top of changes in a competitive marketplace.

However, while nearly half of employers urge older workers to take classes and sharpen their skills, just one-quarter of those workers take that advice.

5. Network and meet new people

Couple meeting with a financial professional to sign documents
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 35%

Workers who said they do this: 26%

The old cliche contains a lot of truth: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Networking might be the single best way to learn of opportunities before others do. Making new connections and nurturing those relationships can provide you with a network of professional support that becomes more valuable with each passing year.

6. Attend virtual conferences and webinars

Happy senior man working on his laptop and phone at a remote job.
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 27%

Workers who said they do this: 15%

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we all became more comfortable interacting with others online. Now that the pandemic is mostly over, face-to-face meetings have returned.

However, it’s unlikely that virtual interaction will disappear. So use those well-honed digital skills to meet with others via conferences and webinars.

7. Obtain a new degree, certification or professional designation

Older woman student using laptop in library studying
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 26%

Workers who said they do this: 17%

Getting a new degree or certification can give you a leg up when competing against others for new roles. Employers recommend older workers pursue such extra education as a way of staying competitive.

But weigh this decision carefully. Additional education can be costly. You want to make sure it will pay off in the long run.

For more on this topic, read “5 Things to Weigh Before Going Back to School After Age 50.”

8. Scope out the employment market and opportunities available

An older worker shakes hands at a job interview
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Employers who recommended that workers do this: 24%

Workers who said they do this: 19%

Even if you are happy in your current job, it is always wise to keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities. Workers who move to new jobs often receive big pay increases or discover roles that help boost their careers.

And older workers might find a lot more opportunities now than in the past. For more, check out “Why Employers Can’t Wait to Hire Older Workers.”

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