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Working instead of retiring

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Posted: 4 pm ET

Marv Recht, executive-in-residence at Butler University in Indianapolis, estimates that he retired from General Motors 18 years ago for about 12 hours and by that time, he had a new job. "I flunked retirement," he says.

Recht, who was human resource director for the Indianapolis plant, left GM at age 57 when the company sold the operation. Eighteen years later at age 75, he is not only still gainfully employed as a member of the Butler faculty, but also works regularly as a consultant for a large health care company.

GM provides him with a generous pension and he now collects Social Security, but Recht says his income from work pays for the extras. He offers this retirement planning advice for people who are approaching retirement age and think they might want to keep working part time.

Expand your horizons and your skills. Before Recht retired, he began volunteering in the human resource department at the local hospital. That volunteer work stood him in good stead even six years after retirement when he answered an ad in the local paper for a job that resembled what he had done both in his career and as a volunteer. The company hired him at age 62 as a consultant -- a job he still holds 12 years later.

Confront the age issues. Recht advises dealing with the age issues upfront by reassuring a potential employer that you aren't interested in only working a couple of years then retiring again. "Research the company thoroughly so you can speak knowledgeably about the company's success. Emphasize the future in answers, such as 'I see the company is on a growth pattern of X percent a year, and I want to work for a growing firm and grow in my skills and contributions to that success,'" he says.

Network, network, network. Before his retirement, Recht had been an occasional guest speaker at Butler. Word travels quickly in a city the size of Indianapolis, so by lunchtime, the people Recht knew at the university had already heard that he'd left his job. One of them called Recht immediately and offered him a part-time teaching position. The first class was scheduled for that evening, so Recht started his new job a few hours after cleaning out his desk at his old one.

Be flexible. "You have to be willing to do Act 2, Scene 3, then Scene 4," including being willing to relocate, Recht advises.

Be strategic about salary. To avoid either shortchanging yourself or being ruled out for having unrealistic expectations, Recht suggests you respond to the salary discussion in this way: "My most recent base salary was $XX. However, as I understand, there is significant growth potential in this position. As my primary interest at this stage of my career is working for a growing company, the matter of salary is negotiable."

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