Resume your career


Retirement doesn't necessarily mean a change in direction. For many who find themselves at the retirement age who aren't ready to stop working, continuing in their career makes perfect sense. The advantages to continuing your career are many – you can leverage your experience as a value-add contributor to the next company; you can bring perspective and best practices to another organization; and you can avoid the challenges of making a major career shift. Of course, there are challenges associated with resuming your career if you are older. But the plusses are many so this option could be a good one. Whether you are considering continuing your career, or have decided to do so, the information on these pages will provide you with clarity and direction.

Am I right for this?

10 yes/no questions to help you determine if this is a good direction for you

Have I been completely honest about having the determination and ability to be successful if I reenter my previous profession?

Have I made a thorough inventory of the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in my prior profession based on changes that may have occurred in the industry or profession?

Do I have ways to prove that I can be successful if re-employed in my profession?

Am I willing to deal with the ups and downs that are inherent in job searching?

Can I articulate in interviews, and in writing, why I would be successful if rehired after my retirement hiatus?

Am I prepared to deal with ageism?

Am I willing to commit to a specific length of time if I apply for employment with a company?

Will I be able to obtain references from past employers, colleagues, and others as to why I will be successful in restarting my pre-retirement career?

Do I have or am I willing to develop personal marketing materials to support my job search?

Will my spouse or significant other support my plan for returning to employment?

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If you answer six or more “yes,” this is probably a good direction to pursue.

Tips for workforce reentry

  • Collaborate with a reputable recruitment agency
  • Identify target companies
  • Reconnect with your professional network  
  • Get current on the latest job search strategies
  • Get clear on your value proposition and how/why you are a desirable candidate
  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Track the process as you would any other multi-dimensional activity
  • Go on as many interviews as possible (be prepared to meet virtually)
  • Have a positive attitude as you go through the job search process

Keep a job search tracking sheet, and include the following items

  • Position title
  • Company
  • Hiring contact
  • Date found
  • Application deadline
  • Date applied
  • Application follow-up date
  • First interview research
  • First interview date
  • First interview follow-up and date
  • Second interview date
  • Second interview follow-up and date
  • Third interview follow-up and date

Ways to overcome ageism

  • Deflect focus or conversation about your age
  • Have a businesslike email address
  • Stay current on trends and technology
  • Don't directly answer questions regarding your age (most are illegal)
  • Focus on your experience and expertise
  • Emphasize your ability to adapt
  • Remain positive
  • Omit your graduation dates from your resume, etc.
  • Make your social media profiles private
  • Highlight training you’ve had to keep job skills current

Key attributes of seniors who successfully return to the workforce

  • Confidence in their abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Proactive
  • Listening
  • Discipline and focus
  • Customer oriented
  • Financial skills
  • Ability to lead/motivate staff
  • Patience and resilience
  • Determination

Vital concepts to include in your resume and LinkedIn profile

  • Collaboration
  • Leadership
  • Focus
  • Willingness to learn
  • Energy
  • Current with technology
  • Future oriented
  • Adaptability


Here are questions and answers that address common issues and concerns for those considering resuming their career.


How do I know if continuing my career once I have retired is a good move for me?


While many people find satisfaction that comes with the change of pace in retirement, others miss the creativity, purpose and passion that comes with an active working life. And while there are many ways to stay productive and purposeful, there may be a voice whispering that you still have more to give to your original career. Not to mention, continuing your career may be the best way to earn income. Of course, challenges come with returning to the workforce; as an older worker it’s likely to take longer to land a position. The good news is that according to Rand Corporation’s American Working Conditions Survey, 40% of workers aged 65 and older had previously retired at some point.


How do I know what type of company is right for me as I re-enter the workforce?


Four important factors to consider about the company are:

  • Are they growing?
  • Do they hire people with my professional background and qualifications?
  • Are they open to a diverse workforce, including employees of my age?
  • Are they in an industry or market space that interests me?

Where do I begin my job search?


It’s always best to begin with companies where you have relationships or contacts. Members of your personal network can also suggest companies that meet your criteria. A good step would be to make a list of companies you would like to work for. Scan company website career sections and job boards like Indeed, Monster, Ladders, Glassdoor, and others.


What are likely to be my biggest challenges searching for a post-retirement job, and how can I overcome them?


The good news is that you only need to find one job, but the path to that job may take you through many twists and turns. Explaining why you want to return to the workforce after having been retired, and why you are well qualified for the job at hand will require careful thought. A good way to proactively be prepared for this is to research the job and company, have a current and compelling resume and share your thinking about how you would approach the job once you’re hired. Having good references will also be helpful.


How do I identify companies that welcome older job hunters and especially those returning to the workforce after retirement?


While you will have to do some legwork to identify prospective employers that fit your requirements regarding compensation, location, nature of the job and other factors, it is helpful to know that more than 1000 companies have signed the AARP Employer Pledge of Commitment to an age-inclusive and diverse workforce (see additional resources in this section). Companies that sign the pledge promise equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age, and that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs. It also promises to recruit across diverse age groups and to consider all applicants on an equal basis.


Should I hire a professional resume and LinkedIn writer and if so, what are the advantages?


You can create your own resume, of course. Or you can retain a professional writer who understands the nuances of communicating your story for today’s complex job market, especially if you are “unretiring.” The most effective resumes and LinkedIn profiles today are more than a list of job titles and timeframes; they are active, forward-looking marketing documents that position you as a competitive candidate. They also effectively convey transferable skills if you happen to be targeting a different or new job. A top quality professional resume writer will know how to accomplish this.


What happens to my Social Security payments if I return to work?


If you go back to work, depending on when you were born, you may or may not reduce your Social Security benefits. However, the factors and formulas for making this calculation are very complex and vary person-to-person. You should discuss this with your accountant or financial advisor.

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Assess this option against the following eight criteria:

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Additional resources

Next steps:

Step 1

Get clear on your goals and willingness to do what it takes to re-enter the job market.

Step 2

Organize your thoughts/notes regarding your career history and experience relevant to prospective future employers.

Step 3

Create a list of desired attributes for your new job including location/commuting time, salary needs, any special needs regarding physical access, industry, size of company.

Step 4

Develop a list of companies/prospective employers who you can reach out to regarding opportunities.

Step 5

Reach out to members of your past and present professional network, and ask for references, and company suggestions.

Step 6

Optimize your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Step 7

Prepare a daily routine – looking for a job is a job, so establish a disciplined schedulefor each day’s search efforts and track job search contacts and activities.

Step 8

Consider the impact on your Social Security benefits.

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