A limited boomerang back for retirees – Twin Cities

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Amy Lindgren

When you retire, do you expect to work again? Statistics vary, but they seem to indicate that the answer will be yes for a significant portion of workers.

In 2019, for example, one survey found that 27% of respondents who were in the process of retirement planning were expecting to work at least part-time after leaving their full-time jobs. Other surveys show as many as 19% of post-retirement Americans are currently working part-time, while yet another report (Rand Corp., 2019) found that 40% of workers age 65 or older had previously retired before returning to the workforce.

The primary reason for working post-retirement is financial, although nearly half of employed retirees in a 2018 survey (Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies) said they continued working because they enjoyed what they were doing or because they wanted to stay active.

While it’s difficult to find studies that measure exactly the same thing, once you accept the variances in the research, the conclusion is still clear: A significant number of United States retirees return to the workforce after leaving their primary work.

If you think you could be one of them, you might find that having a plan makes for a softer re-entry.

For example, would you consider returning to your previous profession? This is one of the most common ways to continue work, especially in the years immediately after retirement — partly because this is when your contacts and knowledge are still fresh, and partly because this is where you might command the highest pay for your effort.

There are a number of ways you can stay involved in your field as a post-retiree worker. When people boomerang back, as an example, they might be excited to choose a new area of the industry they hadn’t experienced before. Or they could decide to go retro by offering their skills to organizations that still rely on old-school processes. Dropping back to a much lower (and less stressful) level or identifying just one task to perform are also common approaches.

To help you plan for an effective return to your field, consider these points.

Would you work for a past employer or manager? While some retirees are reluctant to renew old work relationships, others find it very rewarding to pick up some aspect of their previous work life. To smooth the transition, it helps to have laid some groundwork before leaving. But even if you’re returning after some months or years away, you can likely leverage your contacts and institutional knowledge in requesting a return.

Are you planning to work as an employee or as a contractor? Whether you’re working for a previous employer or with a new organization, you’ll find that it’s sometimes easier for part-timers to be hired on as a contractor than as an employee. In this scenario, you’d be responsible for health insurance and other benefits and wouldn’t receive vacation or sick pay. Instead, you’d expect a higher hourly rate and more flexibility in your schedule.

Do you want to downsize your responsibilities? For most boomerang retirees, the answer is a resounding yes. Otherwise, why retire? In taking account of your own goals, consider which parts of the field or profession you most enjoy, or which tasks you’d like to conduct — and which you want to drop from your next chapter of work.

Will you need more training, or licenses? It’s not unusual to become siloed in your work life, especially if you’ve been with one employer for a long period of time. By becoming expert in that organization’s processes, you may be very useful to them — but not as useful to organizations that do things differently. Even if you plan to return in a reduced capacity, you may find your value is increased when you broaden your skills or knowledge.

As you prepare for this option, remember that your reputation, contacts, and industry knowledge are the key assets you’ll be offering. With that in mind, it’s important to stay in touch with people you’ve worked with or met through your work. An updated résumé that emphasizes your skills and knowledge will also help sell these points.

When it’s time to talk with potential employers, whether they’re people from your past or new prospects, you’ll need to discuss why you left your work, why you’re returning, and what you’ll add.

What if you’re not sure you want to stay in the same career post-retirement? Next week, in the final part of this series, we’ll look at ideas for switching to new fields in this last chapter of work.

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