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For entrepreneur Tim Driver, forming a company that helps people over 50 find work “started as a business idea, and then it became a passion.”
A veteran of AOL and the startup Salary.com, Driver had long wanted to launch a jobs website for older workers, as he noticed baby boomers were retiring and living longer. When his father lost his management job at a bank in his late 50s, it became the catalyst for RetirementJobs.com, focused on retired and semi-retired people.
The 11-year-old company, based off Route 128 in Waltham, now draws more than 1 million job seekers nationally, who get access to the 100,000-plus jobs database for free — as with most job sites, RetirementJobs.com makes money through fees charged to employers that post open positions.
Companies look to the site to plug skill gaps as baby boomers hit retirement age. Its work, especially a program to vet and certify “age-friendly” employers, has been recognized by the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and by AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons). Age-friendly certification requires companies to, among other things, demonstrate that employees are judged “solely on their proficiency, qualifications and contribution,” and to have specific policies supporting older workers, like benefits for part-time workers or phased-retirement paths. On the list are more than 100 companies, ranging from Staples to Starbucks to Fidelity Investments. Absent from the list are many high-tech companies. “Silicon Valley is not receptive,” says Jocelyn Talbot, vice president for sales at RetirementJobs.com.
But plenty of employers value baby boomers. Sharon Emek, founder of WAHVE (Work at Home Vintage Experts), a Melville, New York, firm that hires customer service agents, says, “I hear all the time [from clients] that companies can’t keep millennials. They work for a year, and they leave.”
The boomer work ethic appeals to Tom Secrest, vice president for human resources at First Student Inc. The Cincinnati company uses RetirementJobs.com to find school bus drivers. “We’re looking for people who like to get up early,” says Secrest.
Carmazzi Global Solutions in Sacramento, California, hires people to record Social Security disability hearings, and it draws applicants from all walks of life. “We find the best fits are retired and semi-retired people,” says recruiting director Shari McGill. “They bring a certain skill set, and the value they add is often unappreciated by traditional employers.”
One of the most popular job listings is for elder care. Demand for elder care has been so brisk that RetirementJobs.com set up a separate company, MatureCaregivers.com, to serve that market. Patti Sparrow, a 62-year-old former corporate travel agent who now cares for three older clients, says the work lets her set her own hours, but it’s also rewarding. “You can make them feel through conversations that they’re still part of the world.”
That sentiment would please Driver, now 51. This fall, he told Governor Baker’s Council to Address Aging his goal is “making it easier for our older citizens to remain engaged in their communities, particularly through work. They will be healthier for it, happier, less isolated, and more independent. Our economy will also be better for it.”