Filling in the Gaps: Opportunities for Retirees

Retirement is a special time: more time to enjoy hobbies, travel and be with loved ones. But for many retirees, the transition to life without work can be hard. Studies show that, often, the allure of the workplace intensifies when experienced employees step away and try to navigate life without a career.

As the famous college basketball coach Abe Lemons once said, “The trouble with retirement is, you never get a day off.”

The good news, according to a recent article in The New York Times, is that retirees don’t have to choose between their retirement and the work that they love. Employers are increasingly finding ways to reintroduce highly skilled and experienced former employees to the workplace, striking semi-retirement arrangements that benefit both retirees and the companies they work for.

From the article:

“At a moment when the unemployment rate is low, hovering around 3.9 percent, some employers are turning to their pool of retirees to fill holes in their staff.

‘In a tight labor market, firms find recent retirees increasingly attractive,’ said Kathleen Christensen, who funds research on aging and the American labor market at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. ‘Their skills are up-to-date, they possess critical institutional knowledge, and they can mentor younger workers.

‘Hiring back recent retirees appears more common than at any other time since the Great Recession,” she added.

At Aerotek, we have long recognized the benefits of semi-retirement. When coupled with flexible scheduling and opportunities to provide mentorship, it can be a satisfying arrangement for both employers and employees—especially in highly skilled fields like nursing and engineering.


It’s a great way for recent retirees to stay engaged with the industries and companies that they’ve long been passionate about while also generating the supplemental income to help fund their retirement. Indeed, a recent Staffing Industry Analysts survey indicates that, of those age 56 and older who choose to be temporary workers, 62 percent of them are doing so because they want to supplement their income without looking for a permanent or regular position.


Retirees can and frequently want to contribute a wealth of experience and insight, even in physically demanding fields. Many employers are finding new ways to utilize the skills and mentorship of retirees, often in less physically strenuous environments.

Retirees have years of experience that you can’t teach or replace. While the economy is running hot, companies are looking to hire people with extensive leadership experience.

Nurses, in particular, possess specialized skills and expertise that—having been acquired over many years of experience—are hard to duplicate with less experienced employees. For those who love that work but want to wean themselves from being on their feet 12 hours a day, options span from managing cases to working with data as a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) nurse.

Maureen Scanlan, vice president of nursing and patient care for Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, told The New York Times that experienced nurses are so valuable that the hospital has sought to make contact with older nurses before they retire to offer them some flexible options.

“To retain nurses beyond their natural retirement age is valuable because experienced nurses have a wealth of knowledge,” Scanlan said. “It’s a loss when that level of knowledge retires. They can remain with us in different capacities. It may not be in the role they’ve retired from, but they all become mentors.”


While many retirees would like to keep contributing and earning money, the idea of returning to a full-time, year-round grind has lost its appeal with some. By taking a contract position through a staffing company, many retirees are able to find roles that make the most of their skills and strike the right balance between work and semi-retirement.

We have also seen a similar trend in retirees being a good fit for temporary assignments that may not necessarily align with a former career path, but do align with a former passion. We expect to see retirees who are not looking for a long-term employment commitment to fill temporary jobs such as call center and customer service representatives for the upcoming holiday rush.


Several studies published by AARP show that senior staff are more likely to show up on time, work hard, pay attention to detail and make informed decisions using past experiences.

“Older workers are a tremendous resource for organizations because of the experience and variety of situations they’ve been in during their careers,” said Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross.

The payoff for employers is clear.

Joe Swenson

Joe Swenson
Director of Divisional Operations, Engineering at Aerotek

Joe Swenson

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