Retiring from Retirement: Resume Tips for Re-entering the Workforce

Posted on March 9, 2009. Filed under: Resumes, Retirement | Tags: , , |

Returning to workby Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)


Baby Boomers Working Longer or Returning to Work

It is very common today to hear about folks making the decision to return to the workforce after retiring within the past few years. In almost all cases, it comes down to a lifestyle decision of some type. For example, some elect to return to work because they are absolutely bored out of their minds and want to stay active professionally after a brief time away. Many others have had their investment portfolio slammed by the market, losing considerable value, and necessitating a return to work so that they can maintain a certain standard of living. Still others may have protected their assets and sustained their retirement portfolio but have the cash locked into areas in which it is not very liquid, requiring them to return to work for spending cash.

Regardless of the particular scenario for you, your time in “retirement” has likely translated into what many would consider to be a “gap” in your employment history. This is particularly true if you have been out of the technology, engineering, or manufacturing sectors. I (@ITtechExec) would like to offer some suggestions and words of caution about how to address employment gaps and other types of situations on your resume.

Consider Your Target

The first order of business is to identify the type of job you will pursue. Depending on your situation, you may be looking for a job that is exactly the same as your most recent position or one that is completely different. If the job is similar, you will want to play up your experience and accomplishments as well as your time in the industry. If you are going for an unrelated position, you will want to position your work history and your achievements so that they are translated into terminology that someone in your new line of work will value and understand.

Don’t Try to Hide Any Gaps

A common error made by folks in your situation is to attempt to cover up the fact that you have not been employed for a period of time, whether a year or 5 years. Now, if you retired in late 2011 and are putting together your resume early in 2012, I would not consider that a “gap.” As such, simply begin your work history with your most recent professional role. If you have more than a full calendar year gap, list “Family Sabbatical” or “Early Retirement” with the corresponding dates and location next to it. No other information is wanted or needed here. Keep in mind, the purpose of this entry is to overcome the method in which many HR reps view resumes—looking for unexplained gaps in employment.

Don’t Attempt to Explain

I do not advocate using space on the resume or the cover letter to explain away why you left the workforce or why you want to get back in. At this stage of the game, hiring managers, recruiters, and HR reps are not interested in this information. They really only want to know whether you have the skills, experience, and track record of someone that can be effective in this position. You can discuss this information in an interview setting, although much will not even be appropriate to talk about in that setting either.

These tips should help you be able to structure your resume in a way that addresses your time as a retiree without being left out in the cold as you launch your job search.

About Stephen—-

Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (check out his exclusive offer). Contact Stephen directly at or send him an invite at To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You?

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9 Responses to “Retiring from Retirement: Resume Tips for Re-entering the Workforce”

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Excellent advice. I find that this demographic often feels like they have a big bullseye on them because of age and the looming issue of retirement. First, get over it and second, don’t focus on it and focus on the specific assets you have that will make the want you for a position. At this age, it’s easy to feel like you could to a thousand different jobs but you must focus your job search,resume and how you speak about yourself.

Thanks for commenting. We are working on putting together material specifically related to the challenges on Baby Boomers in the technical arena. If you have content to share on that subject, would love to connect.

Thank you for your the advice. You have helped a lot.

There’s one thing these return to work after retirement articles never address. They all talk like you just retired last week. In today’s changing workplace it is highly unlikely that a retiree of over 3-5 years can supply any job references as it as likely the people they worked with or for have moved on to other jobs and no one at their past employers even remember the riteree who left 5 years ago.

How to you supply non existent job references the the new employer will ask you for?

Hi Gary, If your job references are truly nonexistent, then you will have to look to other outlets you’ve been involved with over the last 5 years, such as volunteer organizations, local associations (church, Rotary, community boards), or professional affiliations you’ve maintained (such as a union membership or industry association group). A reference doesn’t necessarily have to come from a “paid” position; it can come from these other outlets, particularly if you have been actively serving them. Also, if your former colleagues have moved on to other jobs, or are even retired themselves, they can still serve as references for you as long as they can speak to the work you did together at that time.

[…] For more on this subject, check out Retiring from Retirement. […]

[…] For more on this subject, check out Retiring from Retirement. […]

Looking to reenter the workplace after early retirement (2008). Advice?

My first piece of advice would be to make sure you are using LinkedIn well. Build a strong profile, enter and participate in industry groups, get reacquainted with former colleagues, and showcase any volunteer activities you have had since 2008 that have marketable relevance to your target audience.

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