Retired? Not for long.
Retirees have various reasons for reentering the workforce. But finding the right job presents challenges.
A year after Helen Davis retired, ending a satisfying 22-year career as a marketing official for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, she longed to reenter the workforce.Skip to next paragraph
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"I've always enjoyed working," she says. To fill the gap, she took a job as an educator with a national charity, helping older people. But when her part-time position expanded to full time, she left. After another year off, traveling with her husband, she worked part time as a community outreach director at an assisted living community.
"I really enjoyed that," Ms. Davis says.
Until recent years, the phrase "retirement jobs" was an oxymoron for most people. Retirement meant freedom from work. Now, as more retirees like Davis want or need employment, they are finding both challenges and rewards.
Money does not always head the list of motivators. A new Financial Freedom Senior Sentiment Survey reports that among the 35 percent of seniors who plan to work in retirement, more than half say they enjoy working. Nearly 40 percent are bored. Twenty percent say their spouse is driving them crazy, while another 16 percent think they spend too much time with their spouse.
"There are some who will always be bored and want to go back because they miss the structure," says Joan Cirillo, executive director of Operation ABLE of Greater Boston, a nonprofit group serving mature workers. "Others retired thinking they had enough to live on, then realized that with the escalating prices of gas, real estate, and healthcare, they do not have enough."
For both groups, job hunting techniques and requirements may have changed since the last time they knocked on employers' doors. "So many jobs want you to e-mail a résumé," Davis says. "There's no human contact when you're looking for a job."
Ms. Cirillo observes other challenges retired job seekers face. "They might have the occupational skills to transition, but lack the job search skills – being able to write a résumé, write a cover letter, send it electronically, and search online," she says. "There isn't anyone who doesn't need assistance in these areas."
Even for Davis, who has already held two jobs in retirement, the search grew challenging when she and her husband moved 60 miles away to Fort Collins, Colo. "I thought, 'It'll be very easy to find another job in an assisted living community,' " she says. "But I have found it's very difficult to find a job here. The job market is not as vibrant as in the Denver area."
When she attended a senior job fair, Davis found "a real mix" of employers. "The bulk of them were looking for lower-skilled jobs – waitresses, cooks." She adds, "I have a lot of skills and experience. I miss working as a team with professionals to do a project."
Some retirees turn to consulting. Bob Kenworthy, who spent nearly 30 years with DuPont, now works part time as a consultant at the nonprofit Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.
"For me, it is a desire to be significant," he says. "Is what I'm doing meaningful, of benefit to society? The driving force is much more about significance than making money."
Mr. Kenworthy works 150 days a year, spending two days a week in the office. "That's typical of what postretirement workers do," he says. "We integrate our personal lives with our work schedules in a more thorough fashion than we were ever able to do when we worked full time."
Why retirees return to work
55% say they actually enjoy working
53% would like more disposable income for fun purchases or travel
39% are bored
20% say their spouse is driving them crazy
16% of married seniors said they spend too much time with their spouse
Source: Financial Freedom Senior Sentiment Survey of 1,129 retirees conducted June 21-25. Margin of error +/- 2.9 percentage points