Returning to work after an early retirement

4 min | 05 June 2023

The Chase team

With thousands of over-50s leaving the workforce since the pandemic, what are your options for returning to working life if you’ve changed your mind about retiring early?

The COVID-19 pandemic turned a lot of things upside down, including the way we approached retirement. More than 300,000 people over the age of 50 became ‘economically inactive’ during the pandemic for reasons including health concerns, and caring responsibilities.

The UK government hopes to coax the 50 to 64 age group back into the workforce. Notably, for those born after 5 April 1960, there will be a phased increase in the State Pension age to 67 and eventually to 68.

Despite a labour shortage in sectors like construction, hospitality, health and social care, research from the Chartered Management Institute showed that, in a survey of 1,000 managers, just 40% were open to hiring someone aged between 50 and 64.

Yet according to the Office for National Statistics, 58% of those between 50 and 65 who left their job during the pandemic would consider returning to work. So, what can you do to improve your recruitment chances if you’re 50 or older?

Reversing retirement

The decision to start working again after you’ve retired might be because your pension savings aren’t going as far as you thought, and you’re worried about your financial security. If that's a concern, keeping your disposable income in an account that pays interest, such as a Chase current account, means you'll earn interest when you're not spending.

It could just as easily be an emotional decision. Maybe you’re not quite ready to leave the workplace and have more to offer, like a valued skill you’ve developed over the years. You might miss the stimulation and challenges of being at work.

Whatever the reason, there are things you can do to strengthen your prospects:

  • Network: talk to people you know. Have they re-entered the workforce or found a different approach you might not have thought about?
  • Be flexible: match your skills with the jobs you’re looking at. You might find yourself overqualified, so be flexible about salary, benefits, different job titles and responsibilities
  • Market yourself: play to your strengths in your application with a clear message about why you’re going back to work and how you can bring experience and a flexible approach
  • Consider contract work as a specialist. You could work one or two days a week at a day rate, offering expertise as a contractor rather than in a full-time position
  • Update your CV: tailor your CV to each job you’re applying for, and don’t go further back than 20 years with your qualifications and experience
  • Brush up on tech skills: not only will this show an employer that you’re willing to learn new skills and invest in your personal development, but it will also boost your confidence in your own abilities. If you’re not sure where to start, look at your local library or community college
  • Know the interview process: most companies will use competency-based interviews that you can learn about online or through reading up on the techniques and types of questions to expect
  • If you get an interview: ask the company about their interview process and what to expect if there are further stages

Switching careers if you’re 50 plus

It’s not uncommon to have taken up a different line of work if you’ve been raising a family or caring for someone. There are a few things you can do if you’re looking to pivot away from a previous career path or pick up from where you left off:

  • Explore training and learning opportunities to boost the skills you had previously. Be realistic about your skillset and abilities
  • Make sure people can find you. Join reputable job websites and submit your updated CV to agencies specialising in the roles you’re looking for
  • You might find more jobs that are part-time, freelance or contract-based, so be open to these opportunities
  • Consider volunteering (Opens in new window) while job hunting, especially if it’s in a sector you want to work in eventually. It helps your community but also shows an employer that you’re committed and motivated

Think about what's important to you and consider companies that might recognise what's important, such as:

  • Having an open culture and perhaps offering schemes like supporting a mini career break or a sabbatical
  • Embracing hybrid working and caring responsibilities for their employees
  • Featuring reverse mentoring

Unfortunately, a stigma remains associated with hiring older people, which society still needs to address. But if you’re reassessing what retirement means and whether to return to working life, it’s good to be armed with the right tools and skills to make it happen.

Fancy working with us?

Have a look at open positions on the Chase careers page.

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