Hired! Coming out of retirement at 65

Like many others, Boyd Barger had to put his retirement plans on hold and rejoin the workforce.

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By Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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Boyd Barger, 65, put his retirement plans aside and rejoined the workforce.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Forget lazy days rocking on a creaky porch swing, these days working is the new retirement.

Last year's severe market losses left many once-healthy retirement accounts depleted, forcing many seniors to put their retirement plans on hold and head back to work.

There were 450,000 people age 65 and over actively looking for work in July, a whopping 60% increase from a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Boyd Barger was one of them --until just recently when he found a job. After a long career in the Air Force, Barger climbed the corporate ladder to senior management at the Dept. of Labor's Job Corps program. He retired three years ago.

Barger opened a small arts and antiques business out of his home to supplement his retirement plans.

"The first year was OK," he said, "but then the economy turned."

Like many small businesses, sales grew sluggish as the recession took hold. That's when, in April, Barger, 65, decided he needed to go back to work.

But getting back in the game wasn't easy. "I found that when I went back and read my old résumés they were not really focused on today's employers' needs," he said.

So Barger got up to speed on the current job market by networking with old friends and Air Force buddies, researching tips on how to update his résumé, watching webinars and online videos related to his job search and learning today's computer requirements.

Barger got a lead on an opening in his area when a former colleague told him about a position at Serco North America as an Army OneSource community support coordinator, providing support and access to services, such as day care and health care, for soldiers and their families.

Barger applied online and heard back within a week. After a series of interviews he was hired and started in June.

According to Barger's supervisor, Johannes Graefe, age was never an issue.

"What stood out to me was what Boyd did in the Air Force, working with individuals and spouses and how well spoken he is," he said.

Graefe said he interviewed several other candidates for the position, but "you have to have it in your heart and Boyd has that."

Getting back in the game

Workers forced to delay retirement and reenter the workforce will find that today's job market bears little resemblance to those found 40, 30, 20 and even 10 years ago, according to Bob Skladany, chief career coach at RetirementJobs.com.

"Mailed, hard copy résumés and walk-in applications have given way to Internet-based job listings and interactive, online applications. Yesterday's job searching techniques and skills are generally not effective today and new skills are required, particularly for workers in their 60s, 70s and 80s," Skladany said.

Skladany recommends that job seekers first update and rejuvenate their résumé, get up to speed on basic computer skills, such as word processing and e-mail, join social networks and be easily accessible by cell phone and e-mail.

For mature workers with previous military experience, like Barger, there are also many advantages that often go unnoted, according to John O'Connor, president and CEO of Career Pro Inc. in Raleigh, N.C., which specializes in helping military personnel transition into the workforce.

In addition to an extremely vast and valuable network, there are also often many technological, logistical and coordination skills obtained in the military that can translate to today's job market, he said.

"There's so much coordination that needs to be done, working with inside and outside vendors. That could be the same thing that a manufacturer or distributor does."

"It may be called something different," O'Connor said, but that's just "the semantics of it."

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