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Job-seeking tips for retirees yearning to return to the workplace

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By Joan Martin

If you were able to retire, but then decide to go back to work, what would you do?

Some older Americans are looking for work because they want more involvement with people and ideas. Others seek to increase their income because they don’t have enough money to do the things they want to do in retirement.

Some older Americans go back to work because they lost their savings due to economic problems beyond their control.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the unemployment rate for older workers was 5.3 percent in August 2013. More recent figures could not be found for older workers. That’s better than in December 2009, but it is still nearly twice as high as when the recession began in 2007.

While long-term unemployment rose substantially across all demographics, it occurred at a great rate for older workers compared to younger workers. Nearly 50 percent of unemployed older workers have been actively seeking employment for more than six months. Older workers face several challenges to obtaining or regaining employment including high salary expectations, expensive health benefits for some, out-of-date skills and visible frustration during job interviews.

Eldercare.gov has a brochure with tips to help older jobseekers brush up on their resume writing, interview techniques and application forms. Search online for “Employment Options: Tips for Older Job Seekers” to find a copy to print or read in your browser. You can also call Elder Care Locator at (800) 677-1116 or visit the website to find a copy of the brochure. We also have copies at the Anderson County Extension Office.

If you are an older worker looking for a new job, keep in mind that today’s job market is different job market from what you may remember.

For instance, almost all applications are completed online now. Even first and second interviews may be conducted online using Skype or by phone. Some candidates never see an interviewer in person.

So, keeping up to date on technology is important for anyone who is seeking employment.

If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, paid employment could affect your benefits. If you work and are older than full retirement age, you may keep all of your benefits, regardless of how much you earn.

Full retirement age for those born between Jan. 2, 1943, and Jan. 1, 1955 is 66. In 2014, those who are receiving Social Security and are younger than full retirement will see their benefits reduced $1 for every $2 they earn over $15,480; if you are going to reach full retirement age in 2014, your benefits reduced by $1 for every $3 earned over $41,400 until you reach your birth month. Contact the Social Security Office to find out what amount you can earn without reducing your benefits check.

Some employers value older workers for their experience, work ethic and mentoring abilities and are willing to hire older adults. The National Institutes of Health tops the list of the recipients of the 2013 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 award, cosponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management.

This list includes employers from a variety of industry sectors, including for-profit and nonprofit, health care, universities, financial services, construction, aerospace, and federal and county government. The only employer I recognized in Kentucky was the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Copies of this list also are available at the Extension Office or can be found online.

Joan Martin is a consumer and family sciences agent with the Anderson Extension office. She can be reached at joan.martin@uky.edu