Late-Career Tips from the Queen of Delayed Retirement

Last Updated Aug 17, 2010 10:37 AM EDT

Warren Buffett may be Nebraska's gift to the investing world, but when it comes to career advice for anyone contemplating delayed retirement, Sally Gordon is a Nebraskan worth listening to. At the ripe young age of 101 Gordon continues to serve as the assistant sergeant at arms at the State Capitol, a job she began when she was 75.

Yes, I said 101
This past week Gordon was honored as America's "Outstanding Oldest Worker" by Experience Works, a nonprofit group that helps older workers find late-career job. She shared some late-career advice with the Associated Press: "Try to learn new techniques, listen and be kind to co-workers."

If she wanted, Gordon could make a pretty good late-career coach. Her simple advice is actually spot-on for anyone hoping to delay retirement:
  • Learn new techniques. Are your skills on par with the incoming whippersnappers? If not, get thee to some training. It's a well-known fact that older workers can learn just fine, it just may take a bit longer for the lessons to take hold. The longer you delay getting up to speed with the latest technology and strategies the more turf you will eventually need to cover, and that can make the learning all the harder. Get started sooner, so you can tackle a manageable stream of new material.
  • Listen: No doubt sound advice at any age, but a good reminder for older employees who may unconsciously-okay, maybe consciously-tune out with a "been there, done that" attitude.
  • Be kind to your co-workers. This reminded me of some great advice executive search expert John Challenger shared for how to stay employable:
"If you expect to be working at 65, everyone you work for is going to be younger than you. You better have relationships with them, and know how to communicate and relate to them. That doesn't happen overnight."

Challenger's point is that you need to play nice with the younger crowd at work, and in your networking efforts. Those youngsters will be the hiring managers when you are in your 60s and 70s.


Gordon could have also thrown in a tip to take care of your health. Good genes are no doubt a factor, but Gordon told the local paper she also helps her cause by continuing to walk to work and to do chores. Whether you want to work until 101 or just increase the likelihood you will be in good shape to enjoy your retirement, staying in shape is indeed good late-career advice.


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  • Carla Fried

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