Employment Websites for Retired Chemical Professionals

May 4, 2009

“The organization that first succeeds in attracting and holding knowledge workers past traditional retirement age, and makes them fully productive will have a tremendous competitive advantage,” wrote famed business consultant Peter F. Drucker in his book (“Management Challenges for the 21st Century,” Harper Business, p. 48 (1999)). Employers are increasingly following this advice and seeking to tap the skills of retired professionals. At the same time, demographics, better health and personal financial concerns are increasing the ranks of highly skilled retired professionals eager to return to the workforce. How do companies find retired professionals such as chemists and technicians with the specialized skills they need? How can these retirees find positions that tap their skills?

More than 200 Internet websites specializing in retired professionals have sprung up to serve individual’s and employers’ needs. Different websites target different groups of retirees. For example, Alumni In Touch (spelled all one word) and SelectMinds target primarily former employees and retirees of large firms. Scientists and engineers are the primary focus of YourEncoreTM. RetiredBrains.com takes a broader focus listing retirees in 27 job categories including scientists and engineers.

Currently more than 30 large companies are YourEncoreTM clients. Retirees describe their experience and qualifications in a keyword-searchable database. Also, they check off categories of skills called “service offerings,” which they can provide to employers. While non-member companies are able to search the YourEncore retiree database, they pay higher fees than member companies.

Retirees work as YourEncore employees – usually either in the client company’s facility or in a home office. Retired professionals who have relocated sometimes work in home offices with a supervisor located hundreds or thousands of miles away and may travel occasionally for meetings.

Founder Art Koff calls RetiredBrains.com “a job board for seniors.” Retirees create free accounts classifying themselves by profession. He says that more than 30,000 retirees are registered. Employers pay to post job openings using the same classifications and to search the retiree database to identify employment candidates. The employer also is informed when a newly posted résumé contains the appropriate keywords matching the job posting.

Companies have begun encouraging their employees and retirees to register on their own retiree websites and provide contact information plus summaries of their work experience, accomplishments and skills. This enables their former employer to identify suitable candidates for both short-term and permanent positions. For example, more than 200 former Shell employees in North America, Europe and elsewhere registered the first day Shell’s AlumniInTouch website went online.

Chemical employers that have established AlumniInTouch databases include chemical, drug, and energy firms. If they can’t find a suitable candidate among their own retirees, companies can then search among the retiree listings for other employers. Retirees register on AlumniInTouch in their former employer’s websites. Retirees who have worked for more than one company can register on more than one AlumniInTouch website.

Don’t forget, retired ACS members can post their résumés on the ACS job site ChemistryJobs (http://chemistryjobs.acs.org/apply/advertise.cfm).

URL Addresses of Retiree Employment Websites (all free to retirees)

California Employment Development Department – Senior Workers www.edd.ca.gov/eddswtx.com

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Full-time science writer John Borchardt is an ACS Career Consultant and certified Workshop Presenter. As an industrial chemist he holds 30 U.S. patents and written more than 130 peer-reviewed technical articles.

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Planning for Retirement

February 4, 2008

Bill Gates recently retired from Microsoft and with his net worth of $56 billion; he will probably make out okay. However, they rest of us could do with a little more planning to ensure that we have enough to make it comfortably through our golden years.

When Bill Gates announced his retirement as chairman of Microsoft earlier this year, there was much fanfare. He was spoofed by colleagues and celebrities alike. He even had a little fun with himself during his final address to the Computer and Electronics Showcase (CES2008).


Bill Gates retirement announcement at CES 2008

The Late Show with David Letterman was also good for a laugh with a spoof on Microsoft Windows and the blue screen of death.


Bill Gates retirement skit on David Letterman Show – Warning: Some cursing/adult language.

When I retire, I doubt that there will be much of a commotion. I’ll be lucky to get a small party with frozen cake, nacho chips and fruit punch. If I adhere to the statistical mean, I can predict that I will have been with four to five additional employers and that my retirement accounts will be fragmented between several different financial institutions. It is also predicted that social security will be insecure by the time I reach the mandated full retirement age. This picture is further complicated if my career goes global, or if I decide to retire abroad.

There are many considerations to take into account when planning for retirement. The problem is that many of us just don’t take the time to do it—at least not until it is too late! The most important thing to do is to put away as much as you can early in your career to take advantage of compound interest. This is not easy for anyone, but the math is simple enough to understand. I have gotten off to a late start with graduate school, postdoctoral studies and teaching taking up the majority of my early earning years. However, I am trying to make up for lost time and income by putting away as much as I can each month through an automatic payroll deduction. Automating the process keeps the money out of my hands and lessens the probability that I will spend it on something less worthy.

Portability is also a key consideration when planning for retirement. While I was teaching at the University of Hawaii, I was able to invest in retirement accounts through TIAA-CREF. That is a good thing since all of the money that the university put away for my retirement in the state system was forfeited when I left. If I had not invested funds in my own account outside of the state system, I would have lost all of my retirement savings up and until that point.

If you haven’t started thinking about retirement or are confused about your options, there are plenty of good sources of information online. AARP and Yahoo both have excellent investment guides. Most financial institutions also offer advice, but be aware that they are trying to sell their products, so a neutral and unbiased source of information may serve you better.

 

In closing, it should be noted that I am not a financial expert. I’m a chemist. So, I would not expect you to take my advice any more seriously that Bill Gates has done. Then again, if he had invested heavily in Apple stock a few years back, he might have had a few billion more to spend.

 

This article was written by David Harwell, Ph.D., assistant director of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.