Return To Work

By Lauren Baumbauer

May 15, 2009 5 min read


Retirees come back to the 9-to-5 after leaving the work force

Lauren Baumbauer

Creator News Service

Working after retirement may seem like an oxymoron. The last thing most retirees want to think about is going back to work, but due to the hard economic times, many are doing just this.

If you are considering returning to the working world, you aren't alone. "People who are retired and had no expectation of working again are returning to the work force or beginning their personal job search in incredibly large numbers," says Tim Driver, chief executive of, the leading career website for people over 50.

Those in older age brackets are returning to work more than their younger co-workers. The number of men and women at least 65 years old staying on a job or returning to work increased 101 percent between 1977 and 2007, compared to an increase of 59 percent for persons 16 and over, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job searching techniques and skills have changed from 10 years ago, and employers have different expectations of their employees. There are also new employment opportunities that may include new technologies and unfamiliar occupations. In order to stand out from the crowd and ready to step into an old or new role, it's best to be well prepared.

Before jumping into a familiar field, do a lot of research to know the health and outlook of a desired industry. Know what skills and experiences are expected, such as skills related to computer technology.

"This is also an opportunity to take skills learned and do something different, like work in a growing industry if your old one is declining," said Roxanne Ravenel, a career coach from Elyria, Ohio, and founder of The Savvy Jobseeker.

Don't forget to update your resume. "Don't feel the need to list every job -- just relevant jobs," said Ravenel. "Keep it short."

Driver recommended keeping it one to two pages in length and starting with a functional summary of who you are and what you can do, emphasizing skills and capabilities. Employers want to know what you've been doing for the past 20 years or so, so it's best to tailor the resume to each job you apply for.

It's also necessary to learn computer skills, as these are expected of modern job seekers, according to Driver. Basics include word processing and the ability to use e-mail and the Internet. Not only should an older job seeker appear "tech savvy," but it's important to remember that electronic job posting boards are the newspaper ads of today. If you can't access them, you will miss countless job opportunities.

Keeping a neat physical appearance and updating your look are important factors in a job search. "Not young, but current," recommended Ravenel. "An outdated hairstyle or look can make you appear unyielding to change."

Also be careful to not take over or talk down to an interviewer. "It's very off-putting and shows you're not compliant and not going to listen," said Ravenel. "It surprisingly happens very often." Practice interviewing in front of others, or use a video camera to notice any behaviors that may hinder success.

Seek out age-friendly employers and opportunities. A great way to look is online. A report from Nielsen Online on the use and growth of online career websites said that the 65 and up age group was the fastest growing age category, increasing 41 percent from 2.5 million visitors in January 2008 to 3.6 million in January 2009.

It is one of the reasons sites like have found a lot of success. "Driven by the dramatic declines in the value of their retirement savings and overall net worth, caused by real estate and stock market meltdowns, we've seen the number of job seekers visiting our website triple," said Driver.

The AARP also has job resources through their National Employer Team. It was established by AARP as an online way to connect adults 50 years and older with employers who recognize the value of their unique experience and knowledge.

There are also some helpful programs offered by the government for job placement and training. In 2008, The Partnership for Public Service launched FedExperience, an initiative to enhance the government's recruitment of experienced workers. Meanwhile, the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service and work-based training program for older workers authorized by Congress in Title V of the Older Americans Act of 1965. It provides subsidized, part-time, community service work based training for low-income persons age 55 or older that have poor employment prospects.

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