Marketable Skills After Retirement

Seniors in the workforce

Top Tips for Re-entering the Workforce.

Dreaming about the day retirement arrives is something that every worker – regardless of whether it’s their first day on the job or their 7,300th day. So, when the big moment actually arrives, it can be overwhelming and exciting.

For some, retirement is everything they hoped it would be and more. They are able to take up a new hobby, or travel the world, or just sleep in every day past 6 a.m. if that is their desire. For others, retirement is a short-lived experience. According to the Pew Research Center, more older Americans – defined as those age 65 and older – are returning to the workforce following retirement. The largest increase in the number of seniors in the workforce occurred following the Great Recession of 2008.

While some seniors have returned to the workforce due to financial necessity, others return because they miss working. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging for seniors to re-enter the world of the working. Knowing which skills are the most marketable and which industries are more likely to hire experienced workers can help make finding a job you enjoy more likely.

Tip #1 – Know Your Skill Set

Finding a job has been challenging since the Great Recession of 2008. At the peak of the recession, unemployment rates were at or slightly above 9 percent nationwide. According to the National Confederacy of State Legislatures, the nationwide unemployment rate through August 2017 (the most up-to-date statistics available) is 4.4 percent. While the market has improved, and more companies are hiring, it still can be challenging for older workers to re-enter the workforce.

One of the best ways to find a job – one that will fill your financial needs and that you will enjoy – is to know your skill set. Take some time to fully assess your skills, your passions and your strengths. Then, look at jobs where those things are an asset and focus your energies on applying for those jobs.

Part of knowing your skill is set is also knowing how to market those skills to potential employers. If you see a company where your skills would be an asset, don’t be afraid to reach out to them, even if they are not actively hiring. Writing something known as a grief letter can be a great first step. In the letter, identify an issue the company may be facing, and then explain how your skills are perfect for solving the problem. Market yourself wisely, and even employers who didn’t think they needed you will be knocking on your door.

Tip #2 – Turn a Passion into a Career

According to a March 2017 CBS News Money Watch report, 51 percent of Americans are not engaged in their work and feel no real connection to their jobs. Because of their disengagement, these workers tend to put in the bare minimum when it comes to effort.

One of the best ways to become engaged in your work is to follow your passion. Working for the sake of earning a paycheck often does not lead to the kind of work most people find fulfilling. While it is sometimes necessary to work just to pay the bills, it is not a good long-term strategy.

Enjoy gardening? While selling home-grown produce and plants is certainly a way to make money, you would have to have a very large garden in order to make a reasonable profit. But teaching others how to grow their own gardens, or blogging about gardening if you have a talent for writing, are great ways to earn a living from your passion.

Enjoy sewing? It’s possible to make decent money from hemming and stitching clothes if you’re quick – and good – at it. But you also can consider making your own unique creations and selling them online in a forum such as Etsy.

Have a heart for missions work? Considering launching a missions-focused nonprofit that trains missionaries to go into targeted areas, or focuses on work such as helping communities to gain access to clean water or sustainable food sources.

Tip #3 – Call in a Professional

Not sure how to turn your passion into an actionable business? Unsure whether you need to return to the workforce on a full-time or part-time basis? Consider consulting with a professional career planner who can help to determine your skills, strengths and passions, and finding the perfect fit for your goals.

There also are a number of resources to help seniors find jobs, including the Working at 50+ section of the AARP website, which is strictly dedicated to helping those aged 50 and older to secure jobs.

Other valuable resources include, but are not limited to:

  • American Job Centers (Workforce Development Boards)
  • Staffing Agencies
  • Nonprofit Workforce Organizations (Goodwill, FedCap)
  • Senior Community Service Employment programs

These agencies and others like them can help pair your talents and passions with companies who are looking for those skills.

Tip #4 – Modernizing Your Employment Profile

Job hunting is a lot different than it was just 15 to 20 years ago, which can be disorienting for seniors who retired from a long-time position with the same company and are now looking to get back into the 9-to-5.

Gone are the days of sending in a paper-resume and cover letter. Now, there are a variety of online marketing tools that help to highlight your professional accomplishments, along with the reasons why a company should look no further than you to fill a position.

The web has made it easier than ever before to promote yourself and your “brand.” Networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter provide professionals with a convenient way to market themselves in a way that will reach a wider audience than ever before. LinkedIn, for example, allows users to upload resumes and portfolios in a variety of medium. Resumes no longer have to be contained to paper, for instance. Video resumes – which help employers to get a feel for your personality – are becoming a popular way to promote your skills and assets. Portfolios are no longer confined to PDFs and other traditional media. Many websites provide the tools to create visually engaging and interactive portfolios that can set you apart from the competition. Among them are, NinjaEssays,, and Accredible.

Have a success story you’d like to share about returning to the workforce after retirement? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

Mary Spann

Mary Spann

Mary Spann is the founder and president of Upside of Downsizing®. In addition to her 26 years in construction, interior design, and home staging, Mary also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, making her uniquely qualified to assist with the downsizing process. Mary learned the key components of construction and interior design at an early age. Her father was a prominent custom home builder in Minnesota and Texas, and her mother was a successful interior designer and a real estate broker.
Mary Spann

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