Many companies are bracing themselves for the steady rise of Baby Boomer retirements, which should reach its peak by 2030. At that point, 73.1 million people in the United States will be at least 65 or older. As businesses plan for the future, it might not have occurred to many employees that there’s a great opportunity in the next eight to ten years for accelerated career growth.
Now is the time to review current statistics, consider your experience, look ahead at the competition you’ll face in the workplace, and be aware of what opportunities to look for as Baby Boomers leave a gap in the workforce like never before.
“The Great Retirement” Has Already Started
In recent years many of the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) ended their careers in favor of retirement. At least 40% of Baby Boomers have already retired, with 2020 being the highest year on record that this generation left the workforce. Thanks COVID!
Many younger employees left behind temporary gaps in the workplace during the Great Resignation as they left their jobs to start new positions at other companies or changed career paths. However, Baby Boomer retirees leave permanent gaps in industry knowledge and experience that many companies are already struggling to fill.
Many of us have experienced the effects of this shift as we saw managers, higher-ups, or even business owners hand the baton off to others. However, if you’re only now entering the workforce or are young in your career, you may not have had the opportunity to witness increasing trends of Boomer retirements.
Once you realize new positions are already opening up and will continue to do so as we head into the next few years, you can plot out what course of action you want to take in your career!
Tip 1. Look For The Right Opportunities
Historically, older generations stay in their positions three times longer than younger generations in the U.S. Many have been in their current positions for at least nine years or longer! This means the experience Boomers have accrued in their current job alone could automatically be the same amount of time you’ve spent in your entire career, or twice as long if you’ve switched careers at some point.
Additionally, due to retirement savings and current economic conditions, many may opt to stay in their positions long past their retirement age. While some might be in the financial position to retire at the national average of 61 years old, some will have to wait until they can collect benefits before they can fully retire.
Because of this, you’ll have to choose when to wait for opportunities to come your way, or determine when it’s time to act. Many businesses are planning ahead and obtaining additional business funds to invest in training programs and mentorship for internal career tracks.
Start looking for companies that provide this type of career growth opportunity and apply for positions you already have experience in. If you haven’t started one already, take this opportunity to create a five or ten-year plan to identify key moves you’ll need to make to get the position you want by the time one will open up as the workforce gap expands.
Tip 2. Upgrade Your Skills And Experience
Once you’ve set your sights on what career or specific position you want to fill, it’s time to take stock of what skills, experience and training you already have. While many older employees in the Boomer generation have enough on-the-job experience necessary to remain key players in the company, there are new resources and opportunities that provide education on topics that can put you years ahead in the industry.
This might mean upskilling to start a hard skill history list you can record on your resume for job applications. Upskilling can give you a strong standing if you’re being considered for a position within your company.
Create an upskill plan that includes skills you already have, as well as skills you plan to develop. Take a look at job requirements for open positions in other companies that you may not qualify for yet, with either a Master’s degree or relevant certifications, you could be a great fit within a few years.
Tip 3. Know Your Current and Future Competition
As of this year, millennials currently make up the largest generation in the labor force. This means as the Boomer generation retires, the competition you face for open positions will most likely consist of your peers, and less so of other generations such as Gen X or Gen Z. Businesses are already seeing a high drive in career growth among millennials, as they look to attract employees they can count on to fill the gap Baby Boomers leave behind.
Knowledge isn’t the only factor that will contribute to making a statement to your future employer; acquiring soft skills has become increasingly important, as many employers have put more emphasis on skill sets than in previous generations. Some skills take time to develop, such as confidence or conflict resolution, but there are many you can put into practice to improve in a shorter time frame, such as a willingness to learn and adaptability.
Look for opportunities to collaborate with individuals who have different skill sets and backgrounds. The ability to reach across the table to people who look, act, and believe different things in order to work together and achieve goals is essential in today’s workplace.
There is no doubt the Baby Boomer generation will leave behind large holes in their companies from an experience standpoint. But, there will be endless opportunities in many different career fields where you can breathe some fresh air into departments that may have been stuck in the status quo.
Be a Catalyst
Don’t hesitate to be a catalyst for change in your own career and for others you work with as you move your way up! There will be strong competition as you look to grow your experience in the next five to ten years, but there are thousands of resources in front of you to help you upskill. When planned carefully, you’ll be able to fill the gap and carry on for those retiring ahead of you.