The Best Years of Our Lives

In 1985 I retired as director of sales with a housewares company, where I had worked for 20 years. Since then I have done volunteer work and I've loved it, but nothing replaces the excitement of business. I am 76 years old. I want to rejoin the business world -- but how?

Kurt A. Baer

Beechhurst, N.Y.

"Older workers are an important part of the mix; they're more experienced, they've gotten more bloody noses," says Ben Strohecker, chief executive of Harbor Sweets, in Salem, Mass. (See "Managing the New Work Force," January 1990, [Article link].) He estimates that one-third of his 130 employees are of retirement age or older. "These people are a real resource," he says.

Help abounds for retirement-age people who want to work. And there's help, too, for managers like Strohecker who want those people to work for them.

Operation ABLE runs several programs tailored to those 40 or older, including the ABLE Institute, which helps place people in professional, managerial, and technical jobs, and for $150 offers a two-day job-search training program. After completing the program, clients may return to ABLE for weekly strategy and individual placement assistance. Similar programs in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Detroit, Little Rock, Los Angeles, and Lincoln, Nebr., receive about 12,000 job orders each year. Write Operation ABLE, 180 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 802, Chicago, IL 60601. Or call (312) 782-3335, or fax (312) 580-0348.

Forty Plus is a nonprofit membership organization that serves professionals and managers 40 or older who are changing careers. There are 16 independent offices across the country. The Washington, D.C., organization's program is typical. It charges members a $300 initiation fee and thereafter charges active members $25 each month. Its two-week training course includes instruction in résumé writing and interview techniques. Afterward, Forty Plus becomes the members' office, accessible seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Those who find jobs become lifetime members -- and important network contacts for the organization. Forty Plus takes an active role in marketing members to the corporate sector, a service which is free to employers.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) sponsors a program similar to Forty Plus's workshops. AARP Works is offered at 70 sites across the country. Programs run several times a year for $35 each.

AARP also offers valuable services to companies that want to set up programs for older workers. For no fee, the National Older Workers Information System will put an interested company in touch with other companies that already have such programs. AARP also offers three free publications to help employers recruit, train, and manage older workers. Write to AARP, Worker Equity Program, 1909 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20049. Or call (202) 662-4958, or fax (202) 775-8373.

The Senior Career Planning & Placement Service (SCPPS) accepts résumés from professionals 50 and older, and places them in its database. When a client company requests candidates for a particular position, SCPPS researches its database and recommends a list of people who meet its needs. Write to Senior Career Planning & Placement Service, 257 Park Ave. S., New York, NY 10010-7304. Or call (212) 529-6660, or fax (212) 228-3958.

Tom Fitzpatrick, acting director of human resources for Merchandise Mart Properties, in Chicago, has hired six people through Operation ABLE, including his assistant, Muriel Foster. "Muriel has more than 20 years' experience in human resources -- more experience than I do," says Fitzpatrick. "She makes everybody look really good." n -- Michael P. Cronin