How to Come Out of Retirement

Martin Yate By Martin Yate March 20, 2018
How to Come Out of Retirement

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.     

I have been retired for almost four years. I'm in my mid-50s and hold a master's degree in human resources management. I have more than 20 years of experience in global human resources. What will be the best strategy to re-enter the workplace as a senior human resources professional in a global company?

You aren't alone in retiring and subsequently deciding that you want to get back in the game. It's more common than you might think. I understand you last worked at a senior level for international corporations, specializing in global HR issues, which tells me that you have solid skills and experience relevant in a global economy. Your global HR expertise makes you attractive to any international company. 

I don't know the job title you are targeting, but if it is the same as the title you held before retirement, that focus could cause problems. In this scenario, your competition will be people who are doing that job now. For a moment, imagine yourself as the hiring manager considering which of two top candidates to bring on: One who was doing that job until four years ago and the other who is doing that job now. Who would you prefer to hire? 

I think the most strategic target job title would be at the level below your last title. My experience with successful professionals who want to get back in the game later in life is that they want to work and make a difference with their presence. Yet at the same time often recognize that they don't want all those responsibilities that they used to carry. When they take the time to reflect, they see that pulling back a notch makes sense for their re-entry and quality of life outside of work. Does this resonate with you? 

Also, put yourself back in the hiring manager's seat, looking at someone just like you—can't you see this person as a potential right-hand employee? 

You can position yourself this way—with all the skills and experience that could be wished for—you are not after that manager's job but you have an understanding of the weight she or he carries. You are capable of heavy lifting, you're unlikely to job hop, and you can be a steadying influence on your team in times of crisis and willing to stand at your manager's back. 

Best Approach

The best approach in a job search is to identify target companies and hiring managers and then approach them directly, with an e-mail and traditional mailed letter. I know that sounds strange, but people get very little mail anymore, and, when it does appear, it offers a good opportunity to take a break from the computer screen. 

Global companies are usually publicly traded, which makes it easy to identify the companies and the names and titles of senior management by referring to (all public companies) or (public and private companies). In any job search, be on the lookout for people holding the job titles one, two and three levels above your target job title because these are the people most likely to hire you or know the right person to hire you. 

At your level, using resources like the above, you'll find that these titleholders are quite likely to be listed. Alternatively, you can probably find them through social media research on LinkedIn. If not, you can certainly find more senior HR people at the target company, who would be able to give you a name and maybe an introduction. 

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

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