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Are Retirees an Untapped Resource for Specialized Faculty Positions?

With long-term health outcomes improving greatly, many workers who would traditionally be retiring are now opting for an encore career. Encore careers are a second professional life embarked upon after normal retirement age, often with a focus on greater flexibility and giving back to the community or pursuing passions. Given this trend, are retirees an answer to specialized faculty positions? Such positions may allow professionals who would be considering retirement to continue to exercise their skills and passion in their fields, while allowing a more flexible work schedule and an opportunity to invest in the next generation. Is a retiree a good fit for your faculty opening? Three factors you should consider when evaluating a retiree versus a younger hire:

  1. What experience do they have? Be attuned to the type and breadth of experience as well as how current the experience is. In many fields a gap in experience has no significant effect, while in other industries the speed of technological change may have an impact.

  2. Are they suited to the classroom? Workplace experience does not always translate to pedagogy. Consider their communication skills and experience.

  3. What are your goals for this position? How does this position fit with the rest of the department? If this is a position you would like to grow in scope over time, perhaps a younger hire who would be with your college for decades is a better fit. If you are seeking to augment the experiences of current full-time faculty, a retiree stepping in as an adjunct professor may be an ideal fit.

Career professionals with longevity in their fields have a lot to offer your students. Retirees are a key demographic when considering specialized faculty positions.