Skip to Main Content
by Erik Sorenson | May 28, 2009


The number of American workers filing new unemployment claims last week soared to almost 600,000, reaching a level that hasn't been seen in this country since the early 80's.  As reported in this blog and elsewhere, a record number of well-educated college grads will join the millions now looking for work in just a few months.  And to turn this squeeze play into a trifecta, consider the tens of thousands of retired Americans who may decide to become UN-retired in 2009.

Why would it happily retired former exec decide to get back to work?  That's easy.  To begin with, most former execs are Type A personalities and weren't necessarily "happily retired" in the first place.  Secondly, almost nobody's retirement portfolio has been immune to decline the past few months and in many cases that decline has been steep.  Typically, the former exec is pretty good at math and the numbers aren't adding up.  Many also have pressure on their mortgage so they just don't have the runway to make it to the finish line.

So, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's back to work they go.  But where should the unretired look, especially in this youth-obsessed culture and super-tight market?

·         Educationenrollment in graduate programs, universities and community colleges is likely to grow in this economy and the demand for experienced voices should too.  Additionally, the Obama Administration is making publically-funded education a priority so there could be growing opportunities right in your community.

·         Health Care – this is one of a few categories that looks to expand even in a bad economy due to demographics (hey, you're retired, you should know!)   Even in the likely event that your previous career didn't involve healthcare per se, the industry needs management help in IT, accounting, finance, HR and marketing.

·         Government – see Health Care above.  Clearly government will be expanding in the months ahead and the hiring needs are extreme.  Ironically, so many workers are scheduled to retire in the next 2-4 years, the unretired from the private sector could be attractive for their experience.

·         Service Sector – even though the retail category has been sacked by the current tightening of credit and spending, turnover is high and there are often jobs at all levels for qualified, responsible adults (that's you!)  I'm not saying it's for everyone, but it is for some (see Michael Gill's fascinating book How Starbuck's Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else (and they have benefits too, at least for now).  Under this umbrella, I would also include work-at-home possibilities in the sales and service categories.

If you are among those retired who are considering the plunge back into the job market, it is strongly suggested that you do your homework.  That's always recommended for all job seekers and serious careerists, but it's even more important for the unretired since one bias you will face is that you are "out of touch."  Most of the homework you need to do on companies, industries, application process and the like is readily available on the Internet now, or even your local public library.  AARP is an excellent resource and there are many others.

If you are unretired and have a story to share, I'd love to hear it.  Oh, and good luck!


Filed Under: Job Search

Want to be found by top employers? Upload Your Resume

Join Gold to Unlock Company Reviews

Subscribe to the Vault

Be the first to read new articles and get updates from the Vault team.