By Angela Pacienza
It's sometimes hard for workers to imagine wanting to go back to work after retirement. But that's the case for thousands of seniors who aren't always ready to call it quits at age 60 or 65.
Linda Welstead was one of those people. She vividly remembers how difficult it was to leave her job of 40 years.
Linda Welstead is the spokesperson for retiredworker.com, an online employment agency her daughter Sarah started for retired people who want to work part-time, and the employers who are looking to hire them.
A high school teacher, the 62-year-old left the working world two years ago because she felt the workload had become too much for her.
"I really loved my job. I wasn't anxious to get out," said the Burlington, Ont., resident. "I was only 60. I was happy to retire, however I don't like to sit around and do nothing."
On her daughter's advice, she turned to the Internet to look for part-time work.
Welstead was baffled after seeing that popular job sites like Monster.ca and Workopolis.com were mostly geared to people at the beginning stages of a career.
"My friends and I aren't on a career path," she said. "They don't take into account people looking for occasional work."
That frustration led to the creation of www.retiredworker.ca
, spearheaded by her 34-year-old daughter Sarah Welstead.
Aimed at seniors searching for part-time, casual or seasonal work, retiredworker.ca features large-sized fonts and easy-to-read pages without fancy Flash animation.
"We try to make it older-people friendly," says Sarah Welstead, who runs her own marketing company in Toronto.
A point-and-click questionnaire bypasses any requirements for a resume, something the senior Welstead says terrifies older workers, who can search the site for free. Employers, who pay $50 per posting, are e-mailed a list of 10 candidates who meet requirements within 24 hours.
"Some retired people wrote their resume 25 years ago," explained Linda Welstead. "Those resumes aren't very good by today's standards. It frightens people of a certain age because they know great strides have been made in how resumes are written."
Since going live last October, the site's popularity has exploded. The Welsteads muse that it's because seniors are living and working longer.
The most recent figures from Statistics Canada suggest 8.4 per cent of seniors were working in 2001, compared with 7.8 per cent five years earlier. Those figures have likely jumped since then.
Retiredworker.ca began by listing jobs offered for the Greater Toronto Area, but after receiving dozens of e-mails from across Canada, the Welsteads expanded their reach.
So in January, the site began offering listings for members coast-to-coast. In early April, they branched out into California, Florida and Texas -- as www.theretiredworker.com -- after being inundated with e-mail requests from those states.
Competing against such websites as www.experienceworks.org, www.availablejones.com and www.aarp.com, the Welsteads hope to grow their business by expanding slowly.
Job postings, although far from abundant, include everything from truck drivers to translators and mystery shoppers. There are also plenty of work offers for part-time bookkeepers and retired medical personnel such as nurses and X-ray technicians.
"As time goes on and people lose their stereotypes about what it means to be an older worker or what it means to be a retired worker, we're just going to see that grow and grow," Sarah Welstead said.
Strong work ethic
She added that senior workers bring a different skill set to offices, including a strong work ethic, people skills and independence.
And as more seniors jump online, employers are starting to lose the notion of the group as computer illiterate.
"More and more seniors are doing it because they have the time," said Judy Cutler, a spokeswoman for Canada's Association for the Fifty-Plus. "They can continue lifelong learning and e-mails to keep in touch with friends and family around the world."
Some stats suggest people over 65 are the fastest-growing group of computer users. A Forrester Research report from last year found one in five European seniors was connected, while an eMarketer study said 46 per cent of U.S. seniors have been using the net for more than five years.
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