Dream Job: Staying Put 'Til 65+

Last Updated Mar 22, 2010 10:40 AM EDT

The Great Recession has officially taken its toll on career aspirations. More than half of American workers recently polled by the benefits consulting firm Towers Watson report that their current job offers no opportunity for career advancement, and another 43 percent are aware they need to get a new job to advance. Yet 81 percent of respondents say they aren't actively looking. Right now, the American dream job is simply keeping the one you have. That's not exactly surprising with unemployment near 10 percent and the tally for un- and underemployed workers near 17 percent. But the extent of the job-insecurity is noteworthy. More employees chose a "secure and stable position" (86 percent) ahead of earning "substantially higher levels of compensation" (76 percent).

Moreover, the severe recession and prognosis for a job-less recovery has rocked the whole notion of the modern, mobile economy. Poll data suggest that the new dream job is staying put, rather than moving on to bigger and better jobs.

Source: Towers Watson Global Workforce Study

Not only do more American workers want to stay put, they also want to stick around for a lot longer. While the current average retirement age is around age 62, nearly seven in 10 workers say they expect to still be working at age 65; and a not insignificant 30 percent plan to still be on the job post-70.

Dashed Dream Jobs? As much as the new dream may be to stick it out in the job you have, the reality is that baby boomers need to prep for the reality that they are increasingly unlikely to age gracefully in their current workplace. One study found that in 2004, fewer than a quarter of men between the ages of 58 and 62 and working full time were still with their age-50 employer; that's down from 45 percent in 1983. That trend suggests that the new career dream to coast to the finish line could be just that. A dream. Planning for a late-career job switch is likely to be the best way to ensure that you can in fact keep working as long as you want (and need) to buy yourself a secure retirement.

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