I retired, then 'unretired' 2 months later at the same company. I now have the best of both worlds.
- Laurel McDowell retired in 2019, only to go back to her company two months later.
- But she didn't go back full-time — she only works 25 hours a week and can still enjoy her free time.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Laurel McDowell, a 69-year-old part-time project coordinator on the MyPath team at recruitment firm ManpowerGroup in Steubenville, Ohio. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
After nearly three decades of a very satisfying career working with the staffing firm ManpowerGroup, most recently as a market manager of one of the company's branch markets, I decided for personal reasons that it was time to retire in May 2019. Though I was passionate about my job, I wanted to reduce the time I was investing in my career.
During my brief time — two months — between careers, I did the typical things a new retiree does: spring cleaning, getting caught up on action items that needed my attention, reaching out to friends with whom I hadn't had the time to connect with regularly.
But I barely had time to enjoy it before the corporate office contacted me about coming back to work. They wanted me to spearhead an initiative that would target older workers and help them find jobs.
I can't tell you how delighted I was to be contacted about coming back to work
I wanted to again feel that I was making a positive difference in people's lives. Having spent my career helping connect people to meaningful work and volunteering with nonprofits, I was seeking a way to continue to contribute in some fashion.
When I retired, I believed my Manpower chapter was over and I'd have to source a new avenue where I could still make an impact. Imagine my delight when Manpower reached out to offer me an opportunity that would meet my needs and new work preferences. The company knew that I could understand firsthand how others at my same life stage felt about making a change. The decision to "unretire" was also partly for financial reasons.
At first, I was asked to consider remote work at full-time hours, but I declined. Shortly after, I was offered to work part-time.
Initially, my employer thought they would go in the direction of a full-time candidate. However, due to my wealth of experience in the field and other contributions I had made to special initiatives, they adjusted their offering within a couple of weeks.
I accepted the opportunity in July 2019, initially coming back to the company as a virtual recruiter and consultant, and in February 2022, I became a project coordinator. My first passion is supporting mature job seekers and workers. However, I've also always been attracted to the concepts of employee appreciation and recognition. The strength of our recruiting support staff increased to the point where I could take on some of those additional initiatives while still advocating for mature workers in my role. Through this experience, I learned that my company was very astute to not allow years of expertise to walk out the door for good.
I now work a reduced schedule of 25 hours per week. I spend the rest of my days enjoying time with my grandchildren, attending social events, and serving on the board of our local United Way. Also, I've begun to learn a new language.
My advice for older job seekers, career changers, and retirees who want to come back to work is to create a rebranded résumé
In your résumé, focus on the transferrable skills you gained during your years of experience, rather than on a particular industry.
Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new for which you're only partially equipped, and be open to learning new skills. You should also be as flexible as you can with your availability and salary requirements and keep your technology skills current.
Remember, too, to have the makings of a home office — good internet, an updated computer with a working camera and microphone — in the event that you land a virtual role. If you haven't interviewed in a while, practice with a friend using an on-screen platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams and record yourself.
With the way Manpower has arranged for me to fit my work into my "retired" schedule, I have no compelling reason to think about a second retirement at all.
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