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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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Describing the benefits of working in retirement, Messmer says, "It is so good to be moving and doing something. I still take time for relaxation and hobbies. We have time to charge our batteries, and time with our spouses."

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Whatever challenges older applicants face, demographics are increasingly on the side of retired workers. "In the next 14 years, the number of people over 50 will increase by 74 percent, and the number under 50 will increase by 1 percent," Driver says. "There simply are not enough younger people to replace those who are leaving the workforce due to retirement."

Making that demographic shift easier for both employers and employees will require more money to retrain older workers, Cirillo says. "For so many folks, we're seeing a mismatch – square pegs in round holes. There are people who desperately need to get back to work but need training to do so. It behooves employers to do everything they can to recruit and retain mature workers."

As one sign of progress, Operation ABLE received $40,000 from a foundation to help professionals who need job-search assistance and a review of computer skills.

New retirees who hope to reenter the workforce need to find ways to stay connected and keep their skills – including computer skills – current, says Susan Ascher, CEO of The Ascher Group, a contract staffing firm in Roseland, N.J.

"You need to keep your network going, staying in touch with folks you worked with and attending conferences," she says. "Keep in touch not only with people but with current events and trends in your industry. Taking courses or seminars that can enhance what you've done in the past keeps you current." She also recommends volunteering.

Energy is also essential. "When you demonstrate energy in the job search process, it goes a long way in compensating for other issues," Mr. Seidel says. "It becomes incumbent upon folks who are older to be aware of how they are projecting energy."

He cautions that being out of the workforce for an extended time can make it harder to reenter. But in any job search, he adds, "The core piece of what you do is convey your value." The message to an employer is: "I can really help you."

Gradually, signs of progress are appearing. Some companies, anticipating a labor shortage, are starting to form consulting pools among their older employees, Ms. Ascher says. She adds, "No matter how smart or educated a 30-year-old is, they simply do not have the experience, maturity, and savvy of someone who has been in the workforce for 30 or 40 years."

Mr. Coleman also sees a growing appreciation for what older workers bring. "Younger people tend to be more energetic and aggressive, but are more likely to jump ship and go somewhere else. Older workers are more focused on having a good work experience that meets their passion and their schedule, and are more likely to stay with an employer."

Driver notes that according to the US Department of Labor, workers over 50 turn over at one-third the rate of workers under 50. They have a strong work ethic and are reliable and service-oriented. As employers look for quality applicants, Driver says, "They realize this segment of the workforce is a good investment."

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

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