The Risk Of Being Unhirable After Retiring Early Is Overblown

Is there a risk of being unhirable after retiring early? There is if you are out of the workforce for more than three years. However, if you decide to try and get a job after retiring early within three years, I don't think there's that big of a risk. Let me elaborate further in this post.

The Risk Of Being Unhirable After Retiring Early

In my post about the things I'd do differently if I had a retirement do over, one commenter mentioned something that caught my eye. Although I've briefly entertained this notion before, I never believed it to be true.

Here's what he said:

This isn’t to put down Sam in any way, but it is way too late for him to take a foreign position for a few years.

He is almost certainly unhirable in his old industry. In any competitive, dynamic white collar business you have a two, maybe three-year window to go back in. After that, technology, strategy, and contacts have all mixed on.

He has nothing to offer that a younger version of him at a firm (or from a competitor) wouldn’t provide. 

The moral of this post is do not leave a six-figure job expecting it to be available again at any point in the future.

Unhirable Loser I Am!

Ouch! The reader's comment caught me by surprise because I have never thought of myself as unhirable during my entire early retirement duration. I always felt that I could go back to work in finance for a similar salary if I wanted to.

I believe there's an irrational fear that once you retire early, you'll never be able to find full-time work again that pays well. However, no person who retirees early just twiddles their thumbs all day. Instead, they end up doing things they love and honing their skills.

Despite my confidence in being able to find work again in the financial services industry, let's look at some reasons why I and other early retirees might be shut out for good as the commenter believes.

Reasons Why Early Retirees Might Be Unhirable

OK, despite me believing the risk of being unviable is overblown, I'm a rational person. Here are some reasons why early retirees might be unhirable.

1) Potential lack of long-term dedication.

The longer you've been voluntarily out of the workforce, potentially the harder it will be to adjust to a regimented work schedule. Thus, the candidate will have to convince the hiring manager about his or her desire to stay with the firm long-term.

Given we're at close to full employment in America, turnover among employees is getting higher. It takes about 3-6 months for a new employee to get acclimated to the new work environment. The last thing a hiring manager wants to do is to train an employee who then leaves for greener pastures shortly after.

Further, an early retiree candidate might be less tolerant of workplace politics and other workplace unpleasantries and more easily decide to quit.

2) Age discrimination.

Age discrimination is illegal, but that doesn't stop some employers from wanting to hire younger employees with potentially more energy, enthusiasm, and agreeableness.

If you're the hiring manager, you want someone who is highly agreeable and will do what he or she is told. Ideally, you also want your employee to go above and beyond what is expected. Rightly or wrongly, there may be a perception that older candidates are more set in their ways.

A younger hiring manager may also feel awkward managing an older employee. The hiring manager may feel the older employee might eventually undermine his authority, much like how our parents habitually tell us what to do no matter how old we get.

If age discrimination wasn't real, there wouldn't be ongoing diversity training in most industries to educate employees about sex, race, and age discrimination in the workplace.

3) Too wealthy for their own good.

If the early retiree was able to retire early because he or she has enough investment income, then a hiring manager may be reluctant to hire someone who doesn't really need the money. It may be especially awkward if the early retiree is wealthier than his or her colleagues or hiring manager.

A wealthy early retiree who returns to work might foment bitterness in the workplace. If the wealthy early retiree is not extremely careful, a seemingly innocuous action like taking a five minute longer lunch break could set off colleagues.

The main reason why most people work is for the money. Poll after poll shows that roughly 70% of American employees are disengaged or actively disengaged at work. If a manager is also disengaged at work, it's hard to believe an early retiree won't quickly become disengaged as well.

4) Too self-promotional.

Some early retirees love to announce to the world they retired early. They'll post about their fabulous lives traveling the world on social media. Some might even go to great lengths to get a lot of media publicity. Accept it as a given that all employers will search a candidate's online profile before hiring.

Self-promotion is fine to a certain extent. However, there's an inverse correlation with how much one self-promotes and how financially independent one really is. There's a chance the hiring manager will be put off by excessive self-promotion because he'll believe such a trait may carry over to the workplace. No manager wants an employee who relentlessly toots his or her own horn.

Managers want team players who err on the humble side, especially if they've been out of work for a long time. Managers may also feel jealous about the early retiree's lifestyle and not want to reward them with a job.

5) Outdated skillset and client relationships.

Skills get rusty if they are not constantly practiced. Thus, during the job interview, companies will routinely test a potential employee's skills by having the candidate solve problems, create an action plan, and do a presentation.

For the early retiree who has kept his skills current, if he can solve a problem and interview well, it shouldn't matter how long he's been out of the workforce.

In a client services business, your clients are your most valuable asset. If the early retiree cannot produce a set of clients who will vouch for him or her, then it is logical the hiring manager would prefer someone with no employment gaps.

Maybe Finding A Job Will Be OK

risk of being unhirable

Well, it looks like the commenter is right! I'm SOL when it comes time to find another job in finance once my boy begins preschool. Being unhirable after retiring early is my cross to bear!

What kind of employer would take a chance on a stay at home dad who has been out of the workforce for over seven years? Surely not many, or at least not many smart ones.

But I guess we'll never know for sure until I start aggressively looking for full-time work. The things I have worked on since 2012 are the following.

How I Could Still Be Hirable

* Kept up relationships with some of my largest finance clients. We're now much closer today than while I was working because we deepened our relationships where no business was involved. We hung out because we simply liked each other's company.

* Maintained my written and oral communication skills by writing and podcasting multiple times a week for years.

* Kept up with all the nuances of the stock market, bond market, real estate market, and various alternative investments. Articulating an investment thesis is not a problem.

* Consulted for various financial companies and developed relationships with at least five of them who can act as references.

* Developed expertise in online media and a deeper understanding of certain internet companies.

It is harder to get a job after retiring early for years. However, I was able to get a part-time consulting job within a couple of months of looking thanks to the network I've built.

Keep Your Skills Updated

I strongly encourage every retiree to at least keep their skills fresh and keep their business relationships warm. Great business relationships are really the key to gainful employment if so desired.

If I somehow can't get a well-paying job in finance, then I'll pivot to an online marketing or business development role at one of the many tech startups or tech giants here in the SF Bay Area. Surely there are startups who want help growing their businesses from the ground up.

Worst case I stay unemployed in one of the tightest labor markets in history. But at least I can work on the business development side of Financial Samurai and spend more time with my boy after school.

But just in case the economy rolls over, I'll be reaching out to old colleagues and acquaintances who I've lost touch with. Better to reconnect well before an ask is made.

It’ll be fun to see if I truly am a deadbeat dad who cannot provide for his family!


Learn How to Negotiate A Severance If You Want To Retire Early

How To Retire Early And Never Have To Work Again

How Does It Feel To Be Financially Independent?

Readers, do you think early retirees are shunned from the workforce after three years? Have any of you retired early and gone back to work with relative ease? If not, why not? Do you think I'm unhirable?

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62 thoughts on “The Risk Of Being Unhirable After Retiring Early Is Overblown”

  1. I retired from the military, at the age of 27, after being hit on my third deployment. As I already had my masters from an Ivy League university, I was hired rather quickly with a federal LEA. Municipal/county/state PDs would not hire me. I literally made three times their starting salary doing nothing. I worked for my new employer for 3.5yrs(2.5yrs active in the field). I owned the house I lived in and had recently made 2 commercial residential acquisitions. By 29, I was making more than my parents, combined, at the end of their careers.

    However, I moved, sold all my assets and there were some former ‘friends’ who staged an event which resulted in them suing me; although I acted in self defense, I am still paying. I was never convicted of anything. Now, 10yrs later, I have a PhD, I am working on my second doctorate, and cannot find a job. I have, literally, filled out thousands of applications, submitted my CV to every prospective employer, been through several hundred interviews (even for other federal agencies)…. I believe that, once they learn I am retired (I do not disclose how much I make), they decided ‘no’ because they perceived that I could walk whenever I pleased, although that was not what my CV reflected. I served my country for nearly 12yrs between the military and law enforcement. My discharge and resignation were characterized as honorable and voluntary, respectively.

    I am curious if there was someone I interacted with along the way that, effectively, burned me. Perhaps a supervisory officer that had ‘ordered’ me not to resign; perhaps my jealous, vindictive ex-wife that I divorced in my 20s? People are jealous of what others have, even when they have earned it, that I have learned and am sure of. I am just at the point where I do not know how to remedy this predicament I find myself in. I feel I am wasting my time and talent because I am not even being considered for employment I apply for.

    Any advice is welcome. Recently, my cousin recommended a hiring service for professional and executive level talent, but they want A LOT for their services (minimum $1,000/mo just for access to services, but they are supposed to be REALLY good at placing clients in higher-paying positions). The applying-and-interviewing just isn’t working, which confuses me.

  2. I recently interviewed someone that had left the workforce to start his own brewery. Long story short, the brewery didn’t work out so he’s going back to 9 to 5. First, I made it clear I didn’t hold it against him, it’s admirable to go out and give business a try. He was only out 2 years and I wasn’t concerned about his skills. Second, I wanted to admonish him for coming back to 9 to 5! I didn’t of course.

    Bottom line – even stuffy large corporations are much different than they were 5 or 10 years ago. The whole gig economy is creeping in and it’s more common to see people that take breaks between jobs.

  3. Good and reflective post Sam. One of the reasons I’ve take a few year break is because of the changing landscape of the hiring environment. My early employers I worked at for 10 and 7 years, along with annual increases, and the biggest ones came in the early years. Subsequent jobs dwindled down to 2 or 3 years where they would:

    1. Hold out a carrot
    2. Keep their hiring que filled (often duplicate hiring people w/ overlap skills)
    3. Renege on the carrot

    Ultimately, I found it too frustrating to “reinvent” business processes that I’ve been doing since the days of Lotus 1-2-3. Often times, the existing process are in the hands of someone who is inept at protecting the bottom line and in the “bro-culture” are often given a free pass for major screw ups.

    Often, people in those transition years (40+) are like the free agent baseball player that is picked up, but rarely gets a chance to play and their skills wither on the vine in their last years.
    Believe it or not, that’s exactly what some companies want. They don’t want their business threatened or out of their control, by implementing something radically new.

    I can say, in my 3 year hiatus, I’ve become a MUCH better investor, or maybe just more aware of real risk. When you don’t have new money flowing in, you get seriously averse to losing what you’ve accumlated. (Love when you cover these topics)
    Also, I’ve had time to reflect on the question… “How good are you at what you’ve done over the years?” The jury is still out on that one…but I’m working to prove a positive outcome for myself…that’s when I’ll stop worrying about going back, or my ability to go back.

  4. First off this is a financial and EARLY RETIREMENT BLOG. So people are not thinking this through. Going back to work after being out for 2-5 years is way different than being retired for 10-15 years. If you retired at 35 and now you are 50, most if not all of your contacts do not work for the same company or even may be working. Secondly it is almost impossible to keep up your credentials or licenses or knowledge over a 15 year period without direct exposure. Also there is the possible physical aspect, the body breaks down and accidents happens, I broke my back and now have an unhealable case of plantar faciitist that makes standing long periods almost intolerable. The people that say it is easy “I took a hiatus” and I am back are the same people that think they are great investors because they only started investing after 2009. I have been a stay at home dad for 20 years and my medical license and contacts and physical attributes have all changed over that 20 years and so will everyone elses.

  5. I have always been taken aback by the view that someone is unhireable after a gap, and have never known any circumstances where that is the case. Many, many people can attest to that, women and men who have taken several years off to raise children, people who have developed disabilities and have been in recovery for several years, military spouses that haven’t worked during out of the way postings, world travelers, etc., etc. There are so many circumstances alongside early retirement that can pull people away from work for an extended period. And so many stories of those same people being able to excel in their field upon their return, or even in a new field they discovered they were passionate about along the way. Employers who fail to see value added by those experiences, are the ones losing out. —- Sam’s right though that maintaining and developing connections, face to face networking, developing new skills and polishing the old along the way &/or as you get back in the game, {and keeping any certifications required}, are important to land the job.

  6. Marie Jacobs

    I think it would be tougher than you think to be rehired if you had a true SAHD resume gap instead of Financial Samurai and consulting to list since your last full time job. I helped my boss screen resumes a few years back and no amount of my trying to convince her resulted in an interview or even call back for anyone with a gap over 12 months, no matter how stellar the rest of the resume was. She would rather leave the position open than risk training someone she perceived as having outdated skills and a proven drive to not work. It’s hard to convince the hiring managers to take a chance if they won’t even talk to you! She was open to interviewing persons who left full time employment for self employment or part-time consulting but somehow very few female resumes listed that compared to male resumes…

    1. Maybe that’s the trick then? To say that you left full-time employment for part-time consulting or entrepreneurship regardless if you did it or not. As we know, most businesses fail so if you just come up with a name on the resume. Also, you can always keep her consulting practice open forever.

      “Your name Consulting LLC”

  7. You highly underestimate the effects of Age Discrimination in employment.

    “… but that doesn’t stop some employers …”

    Some employers is not the way to describe it. All employers would be more accurate. Since turning 40(I am 47) it’s like I have a target on my back.

    * If I get a job offer, it’s for 60% of the market rate; plus no benefits. Instead, they want me to go through one of those “temporary staffing” firms.
    * If I get recommended for a stellar annual review + raise + promotion by my manager; instead I get handed a PIP by someone in HR and am fired.
    * Recruiters inform me that I don’t get it; “no one wants to hire me.”
    * Employers adjust their job descriptions after interviewing me to say things like “No more than 10 years experience.”
    * If I network, at some point the persons states “we don’t hire people like you.” That’s code for people over 40. In fact, it’s very likely an unwritten rule that everyone in management in the company knows … “we don’t hire people over 40 and we don’t promote people over 40.”

    BTW, all of these companies are on all the “Best Employer” lists and are written about in industry publications that promote what great places they are to work and build a career.

    And what am I supposed to do, I have middle school aged children? My only choices since turning 40 have been to either raise them homeless and poor, or, submit to abuse after abuse after abuse just to have a job where I am highly trained, skilled and excel at performing the work (see again, I keep getting fired after being recommended for promotion/advancement/leadership based on the quality of my work).

    And what does that abuse look like. Well, here are the experiences I have had in the past 7 years from 4 different employers:
    * My coworkers all joke about how they can’t use all their vacation time; yet, I don’t get a single day of vacation.
    * I get assigned 70+ hours of work; but, if I need 2 hours 1 day to take my kid to an appointment; I am not a team player. Meanwhile, my coworkers work 30 hours a week, coming in late and leaving early to shuttle their kids all over the place.
    * My coworkers got 12%-15% bonuses; plus, hefty raises. I didn’t get a bonus. I did get a 1.2% raise; and was told that it “was a gift.”
    * My coworkers get to sign up for training, company events, etc. Somehow, they’re always full when I sign up.
    * They made a poor hiring decision and got a really crappy person … “here, you manage this person,” they said. As I realized how dysfunctional this person was, I asked for help over and over again for 5 months until I had a nervous breakdown. Then, they forced me to go to counseling and work remotely for 2 months. In that time, they painted a picture of me being abusive and harassing to this person. I returned after two months to a workplace of ridicule, scorn and ostracization.

    Finally, FYI, I am unable to find a single employment attorney who will help me once these things start happening. I call and call and call, only to hear, “I am sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you.”

    Why did I write this? In an article like this, I don’t think your advice aligns correctly for an employment world that treats people like this. Also, maybe if people hear this story and are aware of it, someone might be motivated somewhere to put an end to practices like these at their company … and 1 company somewhere is a start.

    1. People always ask me why I don’t go out into industry (I work for the US Government, where there are some pretty strong controls around stuff like this). At 43 I like the work, it has life balance, pays well, and, well, it’s an older set (18 years ago when I started I was the ridiculously young guy, now I am still below the average age).

  8. Paper Tiger

    I think there is less risk for younger workers who take some time off but can demonstrate skills that are still in demand once one decides to return to the workforce. My personal experience is that once you begin to approach the age of 50, it gets exceedingly more difficult and this difficulty is only compounded if you have had a fairly significant break in service.

    The comment about being well-connected certainly helps but it is no guarantee. I’m very well connected in an industry with which I dedicated over 35 years of my life but those connections can only take me so far. In many cases, hiring decisions today are made by a committee and not solely by individuals and while your connections may have influence, they don’t have the final say. I’ve tested the waters twice and finished runner-up for positions both times. In each case, the hiring managers either worked for me in the past or were an equal level peer that I knew very well. The influence of others in choosing someone else in both cases was very strong. Being over 60, I have no doubt that all other things being equal, my age was a major disadvantage.

    1. You’re probably right about trying to look for work after age 60 again. May I ask what was your reason for trying to look for work again at that age? I’m trying to imagine myself in 20 years, and I’m thinking there’s no way in hell I’d want to go back to work full-time then. The most I would do would be part time work.

      1. Both opportunities were brought to me and while I was not actively looking, they both were very lucrative. My wife intends to work another 5-7 years so I was willing to check these out to see if they might be something worth going after. As I said, they didn’t work out so I will continue on being a kept man ;)

  9. I don’t believe that anyone that is driven to succeed will face significant adversity returning to the job market after a break in employment. My wife found no difficulty returning to the workplace after a 26 month hiatus in 2014. In 2012, she moved to South Korea with me while I did an extended tour there with the military. While there, she had our first child, volunteered extensively, and completed a second bachelors degree.

    Has this experience shaped your view of the challenges for spouses who desire to return to the market place with varying work experience in addition to being a stay at home parent?

  10. That’s total BS you couldn’t go back. I did after walking away for 4 yrs. It took me 2 months networking on linked in. If anything I was more refreshed and not burned out. It was a high paying technology sales position.

    I ended up walking away again only after killing it and being ranked top 2% in the sales force and making a boat load of money. I’m confident with your skills Sam, soneone would snatch you up in a heartbeat. My 2 cents.

    1. Great to hear you locked a good gig down after 4 years! Networking for two months is nothing.

      I think feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and thoroughly excited for the new environment and challenge would be common for most early retirees going back. If the early retiree needs the money, then they would be particularly motivated. And if the early retiree didn’t need the money, then surely the job is something s/he is doing b/c of the activity.

      The best job in the world is one that folks would do for free, but that also pays. If we can all look to find such a job, we’d be all much better off.


      1. I agree, mine was motivated by healthcare for my spouse having a major surgery. There were just to many unknowns so I thought Id take a job for a year.. However, my competitive nature took over and I worked like crazy to close some big agreements and stayed 3.5 yrs

        Reflecting back, it was worth doing it because I proved to myself I still got it. Once I cashed my final commission check I put in my notice. Still enjoy not working for the man way more:)

  11. You’d only lessen your chances of being hired if you did nothing since you left work. Simply listing you’r website on a resume and someone actually looking at it would immediately know that you are not a lazy person and worth an interview; even if your skills are out dated.

  12. Ray Horwath

    Your arguments for and against are both valid.
    The against arguments are fear based in nature and you probably do not want to work for a corporation whose culture is dictated by fear.
    The for hiring arguments are success/growth based. Seems a success/growth focused company would be gunner and more challenging to work for anyway.
    If you do start looking pick companies focused on winning not companies afraid of losing.
    My 2 cents.

  13. Why go back? You don’t need to. I went back for one final year after taking off several months last year. I’m six months in and it is close to unbearable. What a big mistake! The corporate world of 50-60 hours a week is a real grind. Don’t do it.

    1. Going back wasn’t the topic of the retirement do over post. It just came out of the blue from the reader so I addressed it.

      What happened to you when you went back and why is it so difficult if you know you’re gonna leave so soon? Perhaps you needed a longer vacation from work before going back to work? I’ve had a seven your vacation already.

  14. Easy to speculate, only one way to find out!

    Re: you Sam, I’m pretty confident you’d be highly sought after by any number of startups or other organizations that value sharp, creative, high energy employees.

    Why do you WANT to go back to regular work? It seems financially you’re doing pretty darn well. Are you bored? Looking for camaraderie?

    As someone a few years away from early retirement (probably 3-4 years) I can’t really put myself in your shoes, but I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts.

      1. First off, love your site. Often your articles are really thought-provoking for me.

        I went to grad school for way too many years, then worked full-time about 20 years. One daughter, 26, and fully on her own. I spent many years working mid level manager jobs in Silicon Valley, I’m now a senior exec at a Wall Street financial services firm. In a few more years I will be DONE. Certainly, I’ll want to do something else, eventually, but not because I’ll need the money … I worked a long time at a breakneck pace and saved/invested for two decades to buy my freedom. Will live off the interest & dividends, will never touch the principal.

        I recognize that retiring at 53 or 54 years old is not especially “early” in the FIRE movement, but earlier than those who need to work well into their 60s.

        Which is why I’m very interested in anyone who wants to go back into that world, especially when it’s not “required.”

        1. Cool. It is understandable that after a 30 year career you would not want to go back to full-time work or to a fast-paced high-pressure environment.

          My career was only 13 years long, and after taking a seven-year “break,” I do have capacity to work again once my boy goes to school.

          Time goes by quick doesn’t it?

  15. It really depends in my opinion on if you keep up contacts and how good or specialized you were when you left.

    Two examples
    My wife left full time employment 3 years ago. She does some consulting for her old employer for a small department occasionally while she is a stay at home mom. That hasn’t stopped other departments in her old employer from offering her jobs or asking her to apply for jobs periodically, often times without even knowing she’s consulting for a different group. My wife has a specialized engineering background that is not something you’d find with a random resume hunt.

    I’ve personally seen two examples where random encounters with former employees with great reputations lead to nearly on the spot decisions to ask those folks to come back in times of special need.

    1. Very cool about your wife.

      Part-time consulting is really a no brainer to keep the skills and mind fresh while earning supplemental income.

      I’d think most folks would love to do some PT consulting.

  16. I think I can understand why the commenter said what he or he said. Lots of research shows stay at home moms have a harder time going back to work after taking a long leave to care for children. However, every case is different and with your FS experience, you certainly will have a ton to talk about in interviews. I don’t know enough about finance, but startups love people with entrepreneurial experience. Interesting that you manage to keep many of your business contacts after leaving to prepare for the possibility that you may return to work. I’m not sure that many early retirees think about this enough. It’s a good precautious move: you never know you might have to return to work.

    1. After spending 13 years covering clients, you can’t help but develop a good relationship with at least some of them. And when you can start hanging out and playing tennis or going on trips with them where no business is involved, then you know there’s a true friendship there.

  17. Leaving medicine for a couple of years or more would make it very hard to get back in unfortunately. Of course during your early retirement that also means that during that time you were maintaining your license and certification with continued medical education etc. Letting anything lapse makes it even more difficult to get credentials back in place.

    Some things like reading mammograms require you have to have read 400 mammograms a year to maintain proficiency and if you don’t you would have to have someone supervise you when you do read and provide an overread till you qualify with the numbers. Not a fun process for both involved

  18. Fire Year FIRE escape

    I do think them knowing you basically have enough money to walk out the door any day would scare them, but it also means you’re awesome. I think you could own it and probably get away with it. Just ask the hiring manager why they DIDN’T do that.

    Realistically, I would be hard pressed to convince myself to work very hard if I worked a real job again.

    For skills: they don’t change much over time and manager/executive skills are all soft skills anyways. Even for technical things, going to one conference and a little studying would probably get you up to speed. I do semiconductor physics which is high tech but the science underneath everything doesn’t really change and LinkedIn keeps track of my contacts for me :)

    1. One of the strategies is to basically tell the hiring manager you wanted to stay at home to freelance and/or be a stay at home dad. If you say freelance, and you actually freelanced, then it is presumed your skills have been kept current.

      And who can really fault a parent for wanting to be a stay at home parent for 1-3 years.

      But no, asking why the manager didn’t do the same is not a good idea.

      1. Fire Year FIRE escape

        Yeah, fair that might be a little aggressive. Long ago, I had a client who took 2 years off to sail around the world.

        When anyone asked him about it he just said you’re missing out if you don’t do it. He already had a job so maybe that changed his tone but no one held it against him certainly. Everyone’s response was ‘yeah I guess so’ :(

  19. Business owner

    It’s purely about the value you can offer. Any manager/employer with any sense will see that. Just don’t ask to be a full time employee if times are tight and accept a consulting gig in a pinch. If you are delivering value you’ll be kept on for whatever terms are fair and you generate a lot more value than you cost for 50 years, whatever your age. This is what most people don’t realize. Just make it risk free to take you on and you know well enough to not be taken advantage of so won’t do it for nothing or low cost for long.

    Once you establish a mutually beneficial relationship delivering more value than you cost and can keep doing that, you are set for as long as you do that.

    I would know. I employ 60-100+ people across 5 countries and turn over 5-8 mill per year depending on circumstances for the last 10 years. Not the mega San Fran techs sure, but sound profitable business nonetheless.

  20. Fun in the Sun

    I regularly take 6 month breaks for work for travel, which most would consider career suicide.

    Yet after each trip, I come back far more successful, and make much more money than before I left.

    So many white collar workers are burned out, barely adding much to their employer’s bottom line. Someone who has had a break, had alternative experiences, can come in with the motivation of someone far younger, with much more experience.

    1. That is awesome! May I ask what your industry/job function are? Is it common for your cohorts to also do this, or are you making travel a special priority and stretching to get these leaves?


      1. fun in the sun

        I do IT work at non technology companies. I work on projects, and typically take breaks when one client/project ends.

        It is not common among my coworkers, but then again neither is FIRE mindset. My luxury sedans tend to come 3 years old, while my coworkers buy them new.

  21. I know you could step back in, Sam. I offer myself as proof and I think you are way more employable. I retired at 60 making around $300k, plus or minus $100k depending on bonus and stock awards. Since retirement I haven’t sought out a job but several have sought me out ranging from $200k to $1.2 million a year. Excellent jobs equivalent to my old one, or better, so if I actively started looking I’m sure I’d find many more. You are young in comparison, and a brilliant communicator and a tough, confident person. You’d probably step right into a job similar to your old boss’s job within a month.

  22. Number 2 is interesting. It’s almost an argument for retiring earlier so if you decide to re-enter the workforce. If you’re 35 and leave, coming back at 38 is probably not a big deal. If you’re 52, coming back at 55 is a lot harder.

  23. I agree with many of the reasons you raised for being less hirable. I would add that long tenured workers do tend to make more compared to younger workers, even if they do the same type of work. Many more years of wage increases… As such, a hiring manager might think an older applicant would have higher comp expectations.

    I also know some managers feel insecure and threatened by a more experienced worker. Some people just have to feel like they’re the smartest person on their team. I’ve seen hiring decisions based on this. Ageism may be illegal but certainly frequently practiced.

    I think that someone with a strong network and longstanding professional reputation will always be able to find a job. That said, the more senior the position, the longer it may take to find the right fit.

    1. Absolutely regarding the insecure of a manager hiring a veteran or deadweight. If the new hire ends up running laps on the manager, then the manager will feel threatened.

      What I’ve noticed is that retirees who go back to work just want camaraderie, and have little desire to run the show, make lots of money, and be the top dog.

  24. some dude on the internet

    So on the one hand, you’re spending a lot of time talking about wanting to rebrand yourself as an early-retire site…, But now you’re on this rabbit trail talking about your whole life after finance just being about building a resume to be able to become a corporate soldier again one day….

    I think rather than explaining how the commenter that triggered this post was wrong, you should have just said, “You may or not be right, but who cares!”.

    Isn’t the whole point of being early-retired, to be, you know, early-retired.

    P.S. By analogy this reminds me of how Romney and Trump responded so differently to being “attacked” for being rich.

    As you’ll recall, Romney sheepishly just kind of appologized — and lost the election.

    However as we also recall, Trump just said, you’re damn right I’m rich, and that’s the only proof you need to know that I’m qualified for the job of fixing the economy….

    You’re retired, Sam. Own it. You’re never gonna say yes sir to some young whippersnapper in a tall tower again…!

    And this, is the only proof we’ll need to know that you’re qualified for the job of showing others how to retire young…..



    1. Maybe, but I love people’s strong opinions because it allows me to write new posts and keep this site going with new ideas.

      This is the beauty of reader feedback. It’s fun to discuss new things. The only thing I wish Moore was the readers with strong opinions would provide their backgrounds so I can understand where they’re coming from.

      Never say never! Saying “yes sir” ain’t bad if you can earn a handsome salary, get nice benefits, and do fun work. Always good to explore.

      1. At a “salary” of under a million dollars a year, I can’t imagine being able to make more working for someone else as compared to the same effort working for yourself (assuming you’ve done it before). I work as a litigator. Semi-retired at 33 or so (opened a small firm at 30 but worked the same hours I did or more in big law for the first 3 years). Now, if I was shooting for over a million a year I would need more leverage. At least in law, that might well require a bigger and more established pyramid (aka, working for someone else). Now, if I wanted to breach 3-5 million a year, I would once again have to go back to being an entrepreneur. There are very very few opportunities to breach that kind of money working for someone else. You basically have to hit the “stock” lottery or kill yourself for 35 years (and get extremely lucky at each juncture of your career). For me, making over a 1 million a year is pure ego. Nobody…and I mean nobody…needs that kind of money and it does not make you happier than say $500k a year. It almost surely leads to the inevitable rat race of keeping up with others. If the $500k a year or more that you are making from investments and your blog isn’t “enough,” might be time to take a hard look in the mirror about what makes you tick. I wouldn’t miss a day of my kids life to make over $500k a year. Not one birthday. Not one anniversary with my wife. Not one less vacation with the family. I hope it never happens to you, but one good health scare like I recently had and it will balance you right out again. It was a great reminder why I did what I did at 30. But, we are all wired different, so who knows!

        1. Sorry, can you clarify where you stand? Are you saying you decided To give up your career and be a stay at home dad like me as well? If so, how long have you been a stay at home dad? I think it seems more efficient to go back to work after our children go to preschool or kindergarten don’t you think?

          1. I guess in law it may be a bit different. I don’t think I gave up “my career” at all. I took it in a different direction. Which is what you did best I can tell. You still work in finance and you still have “clients.” I count myself as one of them. I don’t pay you, but I view your ads which in turn generates money for you. I do so because of the value you add to my financial knowledge and overall wealth. Same thing you used to do for clients in the past. Educate them, guide them, and make them money via your superior knowledge of finance. You just moved the pieces around on the board. That is true for me as well. I still do the same basic job. I have some clients, I argue in front of judges, etc. I just do it when I want, where I want, how I want, etc. If a client doesn’t like my style or the results, I’ll offer a full refund and they can find a new litigator. No questions asked. I’ve never had one exercise that option though because I’m good at what I do.

            I can pull $500k a year doing what I’m doing consistently. Sometimes a lot more. If I have a good run like this year, I stop working and take the rest of the year off (assuming my cases and health permit).

            I view your post as advocating for going back to work. That was the context of my reply. Do I think it is more efficient to go back to work after a child goes to kindergartner? Of course not–not if you have a choice. Not the type of job you are considering. You can’t make 250k+ a year and tell your boss that you are leaving at 3 p.m. to toss the ball around with your son so the other kids on the team don’t laugh at him. You can’t take your daughter shopping in the middle of the work day because you feel like it. You have to grind it out like everyone else at that level. Otherwise you really are the a-hole who went back to work thinking he has too much money to be told what to do. You can’t be a team player when you aren’t present for the 8 p.m. crisis meeting. Same goes for the Saturday morning meeting.

            Look, I have all the respect in the world for the fathers and mothers that grind out a living at a “regular” job to support their family. But, look one of those people in the eye and tell them that you had the opportunity to work part-time (essentially), make $500k+ a year, set your own schedule, and never miss an important day in your kid or spouse’s life….and you decided to flush it all and go back to work. For what? To make more money than what you make now? That can’t be the real reason if you have a ton of money in the bank and pull $500k+ a year. It’s ego or fear. Ego is selfish and short sighted. Fear is irrational based on your previous results. Happens to the best of us. After 10 years though I can tell you the fear eventually goes away (though admittedly not until about year 7). Maybe you think having a job will be “easier.” Probably. That’s a terrible reason to take a job. If you need a break take a break. Don’t flip the table over in the middle of the game. Life only gives you one go around and you can never get yesterday back.

            You remember the scene at the end of Goodwill Hunting? Ben A. tells Matt D. if you are still working here in 20 years I will kill you. “I would do anything to have what you have.” Hanging around here “is a waste of your time.” This is how I feel when you post about going back to work. :) This clip works as a constant reminder not to take what I have for granted. I can’t tell if you are serious or just looking to spark a good conversation. I wrote my reply just in case you are serious! Watch the clip below if you need a bit of motivation.


  25. Great read! I do think it is harder to rejoin the workforce after an extended period in general. But I also think there are definitely many ways to avoid getting caught in that trap. You’ve listed many excellent reasons you should be rehirable. You’ve been keeping your skills sharp regularly and have definitely stayed on top of the markets consistently.

    I’ve kept in good contact with my former boss of 10 years since I left the work force not with the intention of having him rehire me later, but because we got to know each other so well it’s fun to check in and get updates on how his family is doing and the latest happenings at the office. Great food for thought in the post!

  26. The risk of being unhirable after retiring is NOT overblown.

    Disregarding nepotism and other forms of favoritism – your marketplace worth is mostly determined by the current marketplace supply of & demand for your skillset(s).

    If you retired a decade ago and your skillsets are deprecated within the current marketplace, then you are screwed.

    With technology and automation advancing at an ever-faster pace, most skillsets are deprecated within a few years, max.

  27. I think the key to getting rehired after an extended period being out of the workforce is having personal contacts who can get your CV in front of the right people. For the past 20 years, my husband has not had to blindly apply for jobs. He knows if his resume landed in the lap of HR it’s unlikely to go any further. Whereas if he knows someone who wants him for a job, it’s a certainty HR is going to be bypassed and your hiring will happen. So all I can say to people is networking is your friend, but be a sincere networker, not just someone who uses people when they have a need.

  28. Many normal-age retirees become consultants in their field to fill the gap between career and lounging by the pool. I don’t see why young retirees couldn’t do the same thing.

  29. It is unique for each individual but as a general rule of thumb, I would say once you have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time (over 2 years), it will be hard to go back in at the same level as when you left.

    Obviously, there are exceptions and it depends on what you have been doing in the gap years.

    Sam, in your case, I can see certain jobs which would be fully available to you (business marketing, certain roles in media or fintech companies). But going back into traditional finance might be hard, especially of your large online presence. In my opinion, lack of privacy would be a concern as well as competing demand of your website.

  30. Do you think early retirees are shunned from the workforce after three years?

    Maybe. The points you made about being old and not wanting the money or being wealthier than your boss makes a lot of sense. But if you’re well connected and still have the abilities then I think the person would definitely find something eventually.

    Do you think I’m unhirable?

    You’re definitely hireable, but you are an exception because you have tremendous self confidence and know you are valuable to an organization as you stated your abilities above.

    That being said, I don’t understand when people say things like that commenter did about you. You hit the nail on the head in your first point about how you’re still very well connected which is the #1 way to get back into the business if you ever wanted to. Now I could see if you moved far away and totally took your eyes off the markets and burned tons of bridges then it would be much more difficult to get back in. You also make a good point of how you could get into sales/business development in your area which could be a smart transition. It upsets me when people try to tell you what you can’t do. So thanks for posting this.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Gus! Don’t be upset. Without the comment, I wouldn’t have had the inspiration to write this post and think more deeply about this topic. I like criticism or folks who tell me I can’t do something. It’s motivating.

      It could very well be a huge blindspot of mine b/c I seriously never thought I would be unhirable, especially in this labor market.

      But since the commenter is a hiring manager, surely other hiring managers must feel this way about other early retirees. Therefore, I need to work on several things if I indeed plan to return to the workforce.

  31. I think Sam is an outlier. He is a highly motivated individual and has many skills. If I was a hiring manager, I wouldn’t pass up someone like that, especially in this low unemployment environment.
    For other retirees, I think the commenter is right. It’d be very tough for me to go back into the same field after 7 years. If I have to go back to work, I’d go into a different field. I don’t want to go back to the same stressful career I left anyway. Of course, I wouldn’t tell the hiring manager that I retired for 7 years. I’ll just say I took time off to be a SAHD.

    1. Hi Joe – I don’t think I’m an outlier. If you decided to go back to work, could you study the latest engineering stuff for 3-6 months to prepare for your interview and then get back in? I don’t see why not given it’s all about whether you can understand and solve problems in your field. Further, you’ve developed better communication skills since you’ve left and are happier.

      I think you could get a job in your field if you really wanted to.

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