Working
May 15, 2020

A fresh start when you’re 60 and over

Every second person who is retired wants to continue working. Many take advantage of this phase in life to do the things they want to do and not the things they have to. Finally!

Starting in a completely new field in retirement promises to be an adventure.

Every new beginning involves unknowns and a certain level of personal risk.

Dr. Franz Kolland, an Austrian sociologist and gerontologist, has been researching ageing for decades. He knows that staying active in retirement is a necessity.

"There's the famous saying of a retired man. It goes like this: 'I don't have the time'".

Busy in retirement

American gerontology even has its own term for this: the busy ethic. It stands for the hyperactivity of people 60+. This self-inflicted restlessness works well for many people - it is primarily important for men to have a full calendar, says Kolland.

Unfortunately, many people don’t care about the nature of their activity. "We see that many activities are meaningless. So that means when people plan their retirement, they should always keep in mind that activities during this period should be meaningful." Taking 20 community college courses in different subjects is not going to be an asset in the long run.

So what should work or activity look like in retirement?

"It has to have something to do with your life. If you don't connect with something that's already a part of your life in some way, it won't work."

So is the chance for a fresh start in retirement not possible?

"It’s difficult," says Kolland. "But recent research shows that it is possible. The sociologist refers to the concept of the so-called continuity of age. What people do in their 50’s will most likely be what they will do when they are older.

However, according to the latest research, 20 percent of people over the age of 60 do something completely different in retirement.

This means that 1 out of 5 people essentially start a new career in retirement. "The other 80% do what they already know - or nothing. In any case, the majority start where they left off," says Kolland.

A fresh start in retirement

Psycho-gerontological research has an explanation for radical change in advanced age. It has found that 20 to 25 percent of people over the age of 75 undergo fundamental changes to their personality traits.

"An introvert suddenly becomes an extrovert or someone who was a bit of a control freak lets go," explains Franz Kolland. He stresses that lifestyles are unique and that one or even two generations cannot simply be lumped together: "There is simply no such thing as a homogenous group of 'old people'".

Where can a fresh start be worthwhile?

However, if someone has spent 40 years in a job, they need to be patient with themselves to make the transition to a new job. "It takes new skills, adapting to a new income - these are challenges in themselves," says Kolland.

But it works. At the Austrian retail chain Leiner, for example, older tailors who have become unemployed have been successfully retrained to sell curtains. "There are certain professions that are no longer in high demand. But a person can find a new job with an equal level of importance in a new area," adds Kolland.

WisR Tips

Which skills can be easily transferred to a new industry? What jobs can you do right away? 

👥Communications

A good job for anyone who has some technical skills and a passion for communication is Social Media Manager. For former journalists, teachers, copywriters, consultants, PR experts, managers, advertisers or linguists, this could be a straightforward transition.

Social Media Managers are needed in almost every company, NGO, and public institution. The good thing about this job is that there are continuing education programs that offer a wide range of courses so you can get up to speed quickly even if you are starting from scratch.

👩🏼🏫Consulting and Training

Anyone who has been an advisor, manager, salesperson, lecturer, actor, musician, or teacher in his or her active working life has a good foundational skill set for training or consulting.

👨🏼‍💼Sales

Anyone who has been active in sales, management, or consulting during their active career and has had experience in dealing with customers are extremely valuable for companies. This industry thrives on good contacts, trust, and experience whether it is a part-time job selling blast furnaces or as a consultant for medical shoe insoles.

👩🏽🍳Gastronomy & Hotels

Seasonal jobs such as working at a reception desk or at the breakfast buffet of a small hotel in holiday and recreation areas are always needed. Jobs in the catering and hotel industry are also suitable for minor employment.

👩🏻🎤Something completely different

It pays to keep an eye on the job market. You may find a job on the internet or in the newspaper that you didn't even know exists and that might be suitable for you.

Helpful resources about jobs and starting fresh in retirement (in German):

WisR-Blog (DE / AT / CH)

WisR Jobsuche (DE / AT)

i trau mi (AT)

Seniors4Success (AT)

Vollpension (AT)

Unruhestand aktiv (AT)

Austrian Senior Expert Pool (AT)

Rentnerrado (AT)

Zeitbank (AT)

Kuchenklatsch (DE)

Rentnerbörse (DE)

Alte Profis (DE)

My Oma (DE)

Indeed (DE)

Seniorenportal (DE)