For Boomers, Now Could Be the Time to Consider Consulting as a Career

Consulting as a career

The August jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that U.S. employers added 173,000 jobs last month. This was below what most economists expected and the smallest gain in employment in five months. Employers added 245,000 jobs in July. 

Since January, the U.S. economy has created nearly 1.7 million jobs, and job gains have averaged 212,000 per month. 

The big bright spot in the jobs report was the unemployment rate. It fell to 5.1 percent, according to the BLS, a seven-year low and a level that the Federal Reserve considers to be full employment. The unemployment rate in July was 5.3 percent. 

The BLS also reported that the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers 25 and older was 2.5 percent in August, down from 2.6 percent in July.

Other highlights from the August jobs report include the following:

  • The healthcare industry added 41,000 jobs last month. Over the year, employment in the sector has risen by 457,000.
  • Employment in professional and business services continues to grow, with the addition of 33,000 jobs in August, and 641,000 jobs over the year.
  • Combined job gains in June and July were 44,000 higher than previously reported.

august 2015 jobs report summary

Baby boomers — and their skills — take center stage

A lot of attention is being paid to the younger generations in the workforce today as they begin their careers and move up the management ranks. But don’t let that obscure the fact that baby boomers still occupy a spot near the center of many companies’ radar.

The simple reason is that their skills are in demand. We are in a specialized economy, but specialists are tough to find. Robert Half’s surveys of top executives across multiple fields continue to show that the demand for professionals with niche skills — including those tied to mobile, cloud computing, cybersecurity, big data, and financial regulation and compliance, among others — outweighs the supply of available workers. 

Employers are looking for professionals with a track record of proven success to lead complex initiatives. They value the insight and knowledge experienced talent can bring to the organization. And as newer generations of workers are hired, firms seek individuals who can help these promising workers develop into future leaders.

Remaining professionally engaged

Baby boomers are taking advantage of the opportunity. Many professionals from this generation have already decided to keep working past the traditional retirement age, for financial reasons or personal fulfillment, or both. The strong jobs reports we’ve seen so far in 2015 may also have baby boomers who have retired thinking that now is a good time to re-enter the employment market. In addition, recent stock market volatility has been a reminder to some that anything can happen and that professional flexibility is an asset.

Experienced professionals at or near retirement age who want to keep one foot in the workforce have many options. One to consider is consulting as a career.

The benefits of consulting as a career

It’s a great time to become a consultant. Since the recession, more employers are relying on flexible staffing strategies — including the use of consultants — to meet growing business demands while avoiding overhiring. Through this approach, businesses can bring in the resources they need exactly when they need them, and for just as long as those skills are required.

Companies look to consultants to provide specialized expertise for specific projects or business initiatives, which can last weeks, months or even longer in some cases. The work is typically challenging and diverse. Depending on your skills and experience, you might be called on to assist with a merger or acquisition, implement a new software or business system, lead a major marketing or ad campaign, or help guide litigation or eDiscovery work. 

In fact, research by our company found that eight in 10 senior financial executives consider consulting an attractive career.

How do you know if consulting as a career would be the right move for you? Consider some of the benefits of these arrangements:

  • Flexible work schedule — You can choose projects that suit your lifestyle, enabling you to maintain the right work-life balance as you transition into retirement at your own pace.
  • High earning potential — Depending on your skill set and how often you choose to work, you could actually make more money as a consultant than you did in a full-time position.
  • Focus on the skills you enjoy most — You may utilize only a portion of your total skill set in a consulting role, but you can ensure it’s the portion you’re passionate about and enjoy the most. 
  • A thriving network — The dust won’t settle on your list of business contacts. You’ll meet many new people and continue expanding your network.

Something else to think about: Consulting can provide an inroad to a particular company or business sector that you have always wanted to work for or in, but were unable to explore when you were focused on your full-time career. 

Consulting as a career is all about flexibility. It can give baby boomers more power to choose how and when they want to retire. Before starting a second or an “encore” career in this field, consider speaking with a staffing firm that specializes in placing skilled consultants, or a career coach, to discuss what types of positions would be best suited to your unique abilities.

august 2015 jobs report summary

Tags: Jobs Report, News