Getting Back in the Game

It is very common today to hear about folks making the decision to return to the workforce after retiring for a 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 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. In this post, we will 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 role, 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.

Furthermore, get educated on “personal branding” strategies and how they are playing a part in today’s job search and resume portfolio.

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 1 year or 5 years. Now, if you retired in 2013 and are putting together your resume early in 2014, I would not consider that a serious “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 “Sabbatical” with the corresponding dates and location next to it. No other information is 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.

Generally, I would avoid using the word “retired” or discussing “retirement” in your resume portfolio. Ageism aside…as you know, the best way to land any job is to focus on how you are there to solve a problem the potential employer has, and you do that by showing how you are current to the market, not by talking about how you left the market.

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. 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 why you left in an interview setting, although you really want to drive the discussion back to what your intentions are moving forward. Be honest but maybe not too honest…you really don’t need to say, “I’m just doing this because I need the money for retirement” or any other statement that makes it sound like the job is inconsequential except for what it does for you. That wasn’t a good strategy back when you were younger, and it is even worse now.

Don’t Run Away from Social Media

I have a lot of Baby Boomers connecting with me on social media. Many of them are open to entering back into the workforce, but on their LinkedIn profiles, Google+ intros, and Twitter feeds, they use the word “retirement” all over the place. My advice is to run, not walk, to remove that from your social media content. As discussed, let’s keep the focus on how you are current to the market, not out of it.

And if you think you might be better off just staying away from social media completely, think again. Social recruiting is on the rise, and companies are now actually looking at candidates that think they are cleverly eluding social media with skepticism. Believe it or not, they want to know what you’re hiding by avoiding LinkedIn and other sites.

Social media doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and it doesn’t have to be pointless. It can serve a purpose if you learn how to use it to your advantage, and it can make you relevant to the market you are targeting.