After nearly three decades working with ManpowerGroup in the Steubenville, Ohio area, most recently as a market manager, Laurel McDowell decided it was time to retire. But she barely had time to enjoy it before the corporate office contacted her about coming back to work. They wanted McDowell to spearhead an initiative that would target older workers and help them find jobs.
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McDowell was intrigued by the opportunity to address a true need in the market. She believed in the benefits of hiring experienced workers. (“They’re dependable, they’re loyal, they come with a high skill set and are able to problem-solve,” she says.) And her experience made her well-suited to head up this initiative. But she also wanted more flexibility in her life. Soon, she was able to come to an agreement with her former employer and joined their team, heading up Job Connections for Mature Workers, which has consulted with about 350 mature workers.
The historically tight labor market with the opportunities it holds is one reason some retirees may want to go back to work now. Others may find that either retired life isn’t how they pictured it, or they may need to work for financial reasons, says Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and founder of iRelaunch, a career reentry consulting, training and events company. And such rehires are happening even at the highest levels. Cohen points to Carol Tomé, who had retired from leading The Home Depot in 2019 but returned to work as CEO at UPS in 2020.
Many retirees are thinking about going back
McDowell isn’t the only one coming out of retirement to seek new opportunities. A September 2021 survey by Resume Builder found that 34 percent of retirees have considered going back to work because of job opportunities that are now available. And 1 in 5 retirees (20 percent) say past employers have asked them to return because of the labor shortage.
Career strategist Saundra Botts with the job search firm ExecuNet specializes in helping people age 50-plus find new jobs. She’s seen an uptick in demand for retirees and older workers in general. As companies grapple with both a tight labor market and record-setting numbers of employees leaving their jobs, experience is in demand, she says. But retirees may also see opportunities to be choosier and make an impact with their next work experience. “The biggest change I’ve seen is that when companies are in sort of a time of uncharted change, they really reach out to somebody who can help them navigate those waters,” she says.
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