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Retired? Not for long.

Retirees have various reasons for reentering the workforce. But finding the right job presents challenges.

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Some retired job seekers turn to special sites on the Internet. Tim Driver, CEO of, finds more women than men visiting his website, which he calls the largest career site in the country for people over 50.

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"They're either searching for themselves or for their husbands," he says. "A lot are saying they think it's a good idea for their husband to get back in the workforce. This is at first blush comical, but it makes sense for either spouse to have some kind of engagement outside the home in their retirement years. The 'retired husband syndrome' is a very real phenomenon."

For both men and women, age bias remains a very real obstacle, employment specialists say. As one way of countering that, Mr. Driver compares companies' policies and actions to determine which ones are age-friendly. His list runs the gamut from nonprofits – the Red Cross, the Peace Corps – to financial institutions such as Wells Fargo and Citizens Bank. It also includes retailers such as Borders.

One way to overcome age bias, Driver says, is by facing it head-on. "Make sure you take the attitude that you are appropriate for the job because of your competencies and because of the skills you have. Show how those skills are going to meet the needs of the employer you are speaking with."

Jobs in manufacturing, government, and utilities can be "very difficult to transition into and out of," Cirillo says. Less age discrimination is found in nonprofit organizations, education, and healthcare, according to Howard Seidel, a partner in Essex Partners, a career management firm in Boston.

Betty Brown, who retired in 2001 as director of a social services agency in Chicago, now works part time as a hospital social worker. "I'm learning a lot," she says. "They are very glad to have me, which feels awfully nice. And they are very flexible with my work hours. If I want to travel, they say, 'Fine, go, have fun.' The intellectual stimulation is important. And the money helps a lot."

Ms. Brown found her job through a group called Retired Social Workers, which is part of the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. "It's aimed at attracting employers to the value of this untapped resource of people who are recently retired," says Joel Rubin, executive director. He hopes other state chapters will establish similar groups.

Bill Coleman, chief compensation officer of, sums up the wish list of many retired applicants. "People are looking for flexible schedules that meet their personal needs. They're looking for something they are passionate about. A lot express interest in helping or giving back to the community. There is a strong sense to stay involved, to continue interacting, and to continue to grow and not just go off and golf for the rest of their lives."

Richard Messmer of Boulder, Colo., operated a full-service gas station for 25 years, retiring in 2002. "I've always worked from 6 to 6," he says. "My wife thought it would be great to have me home. But," he adds with a laugh, "after I retired, she said that wherever she went, there I was."

Mr. Messmer volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, going to South Africa twice. He also did mission work in Mexico. A year ago he took a job as a caregiver with Home Instead Senior Care, working in healthcare centers and homes. "There's a need out there," he says. "You learn a lot from the seniors. They've got some great wisdom."

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