October 16, 2023

How Experienced Workers Can Extend the Life of Their Career Through Project Work

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The age of retirement is nothing but a number to many workers today. In what the Society for Human Resource Management calls the “Great Unretirement,” the number of people ages 65 and older who are working or looking for work has increased 144% in the past 20 years. Financial issues like high cost of living, healthcare costs and lack of retirement savings are contributing to older professionals staying in or returning to the workforce. For many older people, work also offers a sense of personal fulfillment that discourages them from retiring.

While a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job can be demanding for older workers who don’t need all the hours or income, project work offers an attractive alternative that can keep older people working, in a more flexible set-up. For older workers who want to continue working but not necessarily in a permanent full-time position, the following are some reasons to consider project work.

1. Ability to Advise & Consult on What Interests You

With all the experience older workers have accumulated throughout the years, they’re in a prime position to take on project solutions consulting and advisory roles. Businesses that have short-term project needs are interested in completing projects quickly and successfully. The experience older workers offer means projects can be managed faster compared to companies that hire up-and-comers.

In a consultant or project solutions role, older workers can be selective in what they want to work on and pursue their passions. In their roles, older workers can draw on their expertise to adapt and manage tasks more effectively. Older workers also provide advantages like more extensive business networks and insights from lots of years at potentially diverse companies. This makes older workers in high demand for firms that want to maximize their project success.

2. Short-Term Commitment

Most contract project commitments are relatively short-term and range from a few months to a year. This gives older workers more flexibility, in that they can reassess what they want out of work once the contract is over.

Project work can be great for older workers who:

  • Aren’t sure if they really want to commit to retirement yet
  • Are curious if another type of field or job may fulfill them before they retire
  • Need income but don’t necessarily want to commit to a full-time, permanent role

Project work enables older workers to stay in the workforce, while giving them more control over the terms they do so in. It also helps older workers gain a better understanding of what exactly they want out of work, without having to go through a permanent hiring process.

3. More Insights Into Workplaces & Industries

Speaking of a better understanding of work, project work helps older workers discover new things about the working world, from different types of industries, to various types of job duties and responsibilities. Unfortunately, a 2023 survey by AARP found 64% of adults ages 40 and older believe workers face age discrimination in today’s professional landscape, while 41% have experienced some type of ageism at work in the past 3 years.

Project work gives older workers a way to try out new jobs and tasks in in-demand positions. Since project work needs are often caused by a lack of workforce support, older workers may find it easier to secure this type of work compared to starting a new full-time position. Older workers can use their unique experience and skill set to improve project outcomes, while gaining more experience in a new role.

Project work may inspire older workers to pursue a full-time permanent position in a similar industry or role after the project’s completion. With the experience project work provides, this can help older workers improve their standing among other candidates.

4. Leadership & Mentorship Opportunities

Older workers have a particular set of skills and experiences to draw from that can positively influence those they work with. In project work, older workers can apply their vast knowledge to the project, which enables them to contribute ideas, collaborate with others and provide guidance on various project variables.

Project work gives older workers the opportunity to be a leader for various parts of the project and a mentor to others who are working alongside them. Mentorship can create more meaning in one’s life, as older workers have the opportunity to contribute to positive change in the world by advising others.

For older workers who didn’t have a leadership or mentorship role in their previous positions, project work can provide these meaningful opportunities.

5. Continued Income With New Career Possibilities

Of course, project work also provides older workers with income that can help them pay their bills, cover caretaking costs and save for permanent retirement someday. For older workers who want to continue growing their careers but who feel stuck in their full-time role with no opportunity for advancement, project work gives older workers a pathway to grow their careers.

Project work provides benefits like:

  • Learning new technology
  • Working with diverse types of people
  • Gaining new industry/job experience
  • Strengthening existing skills and putting new skills into practice

All these benefits can be integrated into a resume and cover letter, should an older worker want to continue working once a project is completed. Project work could lead to outcomes such as being offered a full-time position with the project’s company, securing a new full-time position at a different company, or opening one’s own business as an entrepreneur.

For older workers who need time to decide their next professional move, project work provides valuable experience, income and time to help make a more informed decision.

Interested in Project Work? Contact AccruePartners

The AccruePartners recruiting firm specializes in project solution workforce candidates for diverse companies. If you have experience and want to stay in or re-enter the workforce, we can help. Contact us to sign up as a candidate with our firm.

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