Return to work after retirement

Finding Your Passion Is Key to Work Happiness at This Stage of Life

Return to work after retirement

Is working after retirement for you?

So, you retired. Maybe you had a party. You certainly thought you were never working again. And then it happened: You got bored. Or you missed interacting with people every day. Or you decided life might be easier with some extra income. Here’s the thing: Working after retirement isn’t unheard of.

In one survey of 3,900 people 45 and older, even the ones who had retired (13%) said they were either still working or looking for work, according to the AARP.

If you’ve decided that a return to the workforce is the best next step in your life, here are some tactics for making it happen.

Choose your game plan

Take some time to analyze why you’re getting back into the workforce and what you hope to get out of it. Are you bored and miss the interaction with people? Do you need the income? Are you thinking of doing a U-turn and working on a passion project? Nail it down—because your return to work could take a variety of different forms.

Leadership development expert Carol Lempert recalls a woman who was a librarian before she retired, and after a few years of retirement, she was lonely and bored. “She was a very social person and she loved learning,” Lempert says. “She hung up her shingle as a consultant to libraries.”

Meanwhile, another acquaintance who’d worked as a trucker for his whole career also discovered that he was bored after he left work. “He went and got a job at Home Depot,” Lempert says. “He was social, he knew stuff, he liked people, and it was a little extra money.”

Dive back into your industry

While you’ve been away, it’s possible that a lot has changed. If you haven’t been avidly keeping up, here’s your chance to do that.

“Research industry publications, forums, and blogs to get caught up on the newest lingo, industry trends, and technological breakthroughs that have occurred while you’ve been retired,” says Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college- and career-prep company. “The last thing you want to do is show up to an interview uninformed or have a resume that’s completely outdated and is thus uncompetitive.”

Consider skills training

If it looks like you have some weaknesses or gaps on your resume, specifically related to industry trends or technological shifts in the workplace, take a local class or an online course to update your knowledge.

“A lot of colleges have their courses available online for free,” Patel says. “Check your local college or check well-known universities to see if they have their course work online.” There are also podcasts available on a myriad of professional topics, plus online courses on sites like Coursera, General Assembly, Teachable, and Udemy.

Have a strong elevator pitch

You should be able to quickly and concisely talk about what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and where you want to go.

“Have a 15-second version, a 30-second version, and a two-minute version for the interview,” Patel says. “If you know what you’re talking about and you sound articulate, they’ll know right off the bat that you’re not there to waste their time.”

This includes being clear about why you’re considering working after retirement. “You do need to have a good reason for coming back, and it shouldn’t just be, ‘I’m out of money,’” says Dana Theus, an executive and career coach with InPower Coaching.

Know what you have to offer

Sure, you’re an older worker. But that means you’ve got years of knowledge that can benefit a workplace full of younger employees.

“Emphasize your experience and your ability to mentor younger workers,” Theus says. “One of the main reasons people are going to want older workers is because they can mentor and they have experiences. Your life experience has a lot of value—don’t discount its importance.” 

Bump up your networking

Networking is key at any age, but after a gap in your work life, it’s especially crucial. Everyone in your circle of work acquaintances should be aware that you’re looking to jump back in.

“You should be attending industry events,” Patel says. “You should be offering to take people out for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks. Show them that you are here. Show them that you appreciate their time.”

If you don’t have a social media profiles—or they haven’t been updated in a while—it’s time to do the work. And if you have the money, hire a college student or web designer to make you a website that can act as your online resume. “You don’t need fancy portfolio stuff,” Patel says. “Just a single page that shows your experience and your past.”

Don’t be afraid to take a left turn

This could be your chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do. When one of Theus’s clients retired, he eventually picked up a few different volunteer gigs, including working with a local domestic violence group and volunteering at a local museum. He occasionally takes on consulting work in his previous field for pay, but he only takes the interesting projects.

“He’s feeding all those different interests, and he seems really happy with it,” Theus says. “He’s reached a balance: ‘I get to do things for me, and I get to do things to make money, and I have more control over what I do with my time.’ But it took him four years to get to this place.” 

There are countless experiences available to you as a retiree—think of it as a second chapter in your life. You could work for a nonprofit, volunteer for Americorps, or even open a side business on Etsy selling handmade goods.

Theus also recalls a man she met who had retired from his executive job, but was working three different side jobs while he waited to claim Social Security. Among them, he worked as a substitute teacher and ran wine tastings for the local Whole Foods. “They sent him to a sommelier school,” Theus says. “The guy just exuded happiness.”

Let Monster open doors

Curious about working after retirement, but not sure how to take the first steps? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts emailed to you so you can be among the first to apply when a new opportunity becomes available. Why squander your talents when there are plenty of employers who could put you to work?