Vera and Paul were both on the videoconference with the Abel Personnel recruiter.
An initial meeting with two candidates was most unusual. They both appeared to be much younger than the early 60s which could be calculated from the year of their same college graduation date on their resumes. Perhaps a bit of hair coloring belied the age of this likely college (or earlier) sweethearts. As their story unfolded, their nervousness subsided:
Vera had been an office manager/bookkeeper for the last 20 years for an architectural firm and Paul was a CPA with the local office of a national accounting firm. Unsurprisingly, they had a detailed financial plan that calculated how much of a cash nest egg and other assets they would need to have in place in order to retire, a plan they updated quarterly. The onset of the Coronavirus offered them an opportunity and an impetus for retiring five years earlier than the plan had calculated:
- A rising stock market, reduced vacation expenses, and pandemic stimulus checks had created a balance sheet that met their financial goals.
- Like this couple, their children and grandchildren transitioned to working and learning from home and having Vera and Paul available to oversee remote learning relieved stress on that family situation.
- Neither had felt safe working at their offices and interacting with others in person, but neither enjoyed their jobs enough when working entirely from home and videoconferencing.
As their story recounted, the recruiter became reminded of similar applicants in 2008/2009:
- The stock market values plummeting had severely impacted their nest egg. Depending on their life expectancy, they could become a financial burden to their children just about the time their grandchildren were heading to college with that expense challenge.
- Inflation was also affecting the expense side of their calculations, as food, medicines, and medical insurance were increasing in price, even if they were no longer using as much fuel to commute to work.
- The likelihood of an upcoming recession would further reduce their assets but may not as quickly slow or reduce prices.
- The second home they had acquired several years ago when variable mortgage interest rates were historically low had been enjoying a rise in value, but now internet valuations predicted its likely sale price was plunging as mortgage interest rates were increasing and potential buyers were also feeling these same pressures on their assets and expenses, plus sudden job insecurity.
They had investigated becoming drivers for one of the food delivery companies. Their calculations indicated that those rising gas prices were significantly reducing the income opportunities from this otherwise highly flexible source for additional income. This was a couple that could do that analysis!
These were not the first people the Abel recruiter had met recently that were rethinking the unexpected early retirement opportunity of the last two years. The recruiter explained to the couple recent experience that suggested now was an especially opportune time for both these applicants and the employers looking to hire them:
- The workplace had changed significantly, and likely permanently, in the last 2½ years. Hybrid offices, flexible conditions, and hours were now the norm. Even though their grandchildren had returned to in-person schooling, arrangements for working hours were possible so that their help could be available during quarantine times. They might also not need to commute to work sparing them fuel expenses.
- Their access to Medicare would lower their employer’s benefit costs, making them more attractive candidates. Employers’ insurance access would lower the couples’ insurance costs, too.
- Most importantly, their experience, skills, and dependability were in high demand. Not every new hire was required to be on a long-term career path. The fact that each of them could “hit the ground running” with minimal training and orientation was a very attractive proposition to many hiring managers.
Both Vera’s and Paul’s shoulders visibly relaxed as the recruiter completed the analysis for them. They did not need to return to traditional workplaces or commit to 40-hour weeks. The Abel recruiter then started providing thumbnail sketches of current openings for their reactions. Within an hour after the introductory call was completed, several hiring managers had been contacted and the recruiter was preparing to call the couple to finalize some interview times over the next few days.