Returning to Work Part One

It’s reported that over seventy-five percent of the baby boomers will continue to work beyond typical retirement age. While many will continue in the jobs they’ve had for years, many will re-enter the workforce after an absence. Also, many baby boomer women will return to work after raising their family.

If you had a long term job or have been out of the workforce for awhile, the job search process can appear daunting and overwhelming. Thoughts race through your mind undermining any good intentions. Do you have any marketable skills? How do you deal with the gaps in your resume? Do you have the right clothes to look professional, especially if you’ve put on a pound or two? Are you going to know how to talk like an intelligent human being? Are you going to be able to survive in a competitive world?

These fears are perfectly understandable. No matter how competent you felt at your last job, the world has changed and so have you. Even the most active senior faces new fears about returning to the job market. It’s natural to have concerns about going back.

How do you start to find jobs in retirement? The logical first steps appear to be filling out applications or creating your resume. How do you begin doing those things when they seem so formidable? You don’t. A number of activities can be done before you even think about filling out an application. Some suggestions mentioned here might appear silly, but they will help you start to get into the right frame of mind and increase your confidence. They are especially helpful to persons older than normal returning to the workforce.

Getting Started

Though a looming number of unknowns exist in your job search, a good place to start is with what you know. These questions will help you get started. Don’t be concerned about what you don’t know. Some of these questions are adapted from the “flower exercise” in What Color Is Your Parachute?  A Practical Manual for Job-hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard Bolles.

Geographically, where do you want work? If you are staying local, take out a street map and draw a circle around the area you would like to work. One of the primary factors in determining your area is by defining your ideal commute. Retired jobs shouldn’t have the same commute as you had before. If you haven’t had to commute for awhile, you might not know how long it takes to get to work in the morning and back home in the afternoon. Experiment by traveling during rush hour.

The most adventurous of the boomer generation may be interested in jobs overseas. While not for everyone, it creates a whole new idea about retirement careers.

What kind of working conditions would you like? Think about the environment you would like to work in and describe these physical characteristics. Do you want to work outdoors, indoors or both? What size of organization do you want to work in? What sort of supervision, dress code, and atmosphere would you like for your work setting? What distasteful working conditions do you want to avoid?

What kinds of people do you want to work with and be surrounded by? Describe them in terms of skills they will be using, personality types or characteristics.

What purpose would you like the organization to have? Do you want it to help people, make a product, or offer a service? Do you like a particular industry?

What interests you? Make a list of all the subjects that interest you. Think about the different ways people can make a living in your area and then generate a list of 10 to 15 occupations you want explore.

What skills would you like to use? Think about your personality characteristics. What nice things do people say about you? What do you do naturally well? Remember, people often take their strengths for granted. Do you have good communications skills? Are you a natural leader? What kinds of problems do you like to solve.

What special knowledge do you have? Consider things you’re interested in and have learned about; hobbies or former jobs, both at school and at home.

What motivates you about working besides money? While we all want a paycheck, and benefits, work also provides us with opportunities for relationships, creativity, and making a contribution. In order for a job to be satisfying, what does it need to provide for you? W do you need for your job to be something you look forward to going to every day?

List accomplishments you’ve had in the past. Think about old activities you were proud of, did well and enjoyed doing. Also, think about problems you’ve solved, or conditions you improved. There is an exhilarating feeling we have when we are totally engrossed in an activity, losing all sense of time and space. Athletes refer to this as being in a “zone”. Recall when you were “in the zone” and describe what you were doing.

Hopefully you have successfully answered some of the questions above and started thinking about work in a different light. As you continue to explore yourself and your options, you will feel more confident and enthusiastic about returning to the workforce. Remember there are unique challenges for the mature worker, but if you persevere, there can also be great rewards.

Returning to Work Part II



About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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