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Boomers clock back in

Resource type: News

Bradenton Herald |

Online sites help over-50 individuals find work in messy economy by BRIAN NEILL Gene Burnard knows what it’s like to be over the age of 50 and looking for work. That’s because he’s older than 50, himself, and runs an online service that helps retirees and mid-life career seekers find jobs. Burnard’s site,, has more than 4,000 employers who pay $109 per job listing to advertise to job-seekers older than 50. On one hand, the large number of employers willing to consider older workers is encouraging, Burnard says. Having said that, there is very definitely an age bias out there, Burnard says. We’re a youth-oriented culture in the U.S. and everything is young, young, young. There’s a lot of that – people not thinking actively about hiring from over-50. With an aging Baby Boomer population and an economy in a tailspin, however, that might change. A study AARP conducted in the spring found that middle-aged Americans were postponing retirement plans in greater numbers. Twenty-four percent of respondents ages 55 to 64 had prematurely withdrawn money from their IRAs or retirement plans. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they had lost money in their retirement accounts during the past year, and those on fixed incomes reported having to cut back because of falling interest rates. More sites like Burnard’s have been cropping up in recent years. They bear names like,, and Patrick Rafter, vice president of, which partners with AARP in providing job-search services for people older than 50, said unique monthly visitors to his site have exploded in the last several months due to the economy. In July we were getting an average of 200,000 unique monthly visitors to the Web site, Rafter said. By the end of September that was up to over 400,000 unique visitors, so traffic doubled in essentially three months. October is even more crazy. Just this Monday we had 44,000 (unique visitors) to the site on one day. Many are people who were looking forward to being able to retire, but through what’s happened with the credit crisis and Wall Street, have seen their picture change dramatically, Rafter said. One of them is Ed Treffinger of Neptune Beach. A year ago, Treffinger was called into a conference room at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Jacksonville and was told his job was being eliminated. Treffinger, who had worked for the insurer for more than 26 years, at first thought the layoff was a blessing in disguise, given the healthy severance package he was offered. In fact, the 60-year-old began to think retirement wasn’t such a bad idea. No boss. No duties. Just relaxation. But when this financial stuff started hitting and I started losing about 10 percent of my portfolio a month, I decided I needed to go back to work, Treffinger said. Treffinger uses the site, as well as various others, but has yet to have any luck. I’ve got my name all over the Internet. I’ve been working with about four or five headhunters, Treffinger said. I got a call last week, and that’s about the first call I’ve gotten in about two months. There’s just really no market out there right now. My objective is to keep from drawing on my savings, so hopefully by the time I actually do get to retire, the market will have come back and I’ll have my nest egg. Among the jobs has listed in this area are an irrigation supervisor in Bradenton and a cashier’s position at Ringling Museum of Art and an occupational therapist at an orthopedic practice, both in Sarasota. The top jobs are nurses and health care people, Rafter said. That’s a huge thing. There are many reasons employers choose to hire people over the age of 50, said Burnard of Older workers are typically more loyal because they need and value their job and don’t tend to move, Burnard said. Some companies opt for older workers because of the business clientele, he added. He gives as an example, Babies R Us. Their customers are typically the grandparents and the older workers can relate much better to them than a 20something, Burnard said. Says Rafter: You look at people over 50, they tend to stay in jobs longer than people in their 20s and 30s. This is an incredibly switched on, passionate, healthy group of individuals.

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