Job Searching for Retirees

by Sharon Elber

Retiree Job Search

Congratulations on your retirement! What next?

Many retirees want to work after their first career is over. Sometimes the drive is to supplement retirement income, in other cases it may be finding a productive way to fill your time. In any case, finding your next job starts with laying a little groundwork.

This guide will help you prepare for the search so that you can go into it with a clear sense of what you have to offer, what you need, and what you want out of your next job. Then, we will explore some of the more popular options for retirees so you can be sure you really know the variety of options you have in your post-career job search.

Get Ready for the Search

If you do a little bit of prep work before jumping into a job search, you can make sure that you are making the most efficient use of your time. And, taking some extra time to think through your next move may help you identify opportunities or directions that you had not previously considered.

Here are some tips to get yourself ready for your next job after retirement:

a) Itemize Your Skillset

Make a list of your skills on paper so that you can take a good hard look at what you have to offer your next employer. This can also help you decide which kinds of work you might want to do, and whether you have what it takes to make a go of consulting, freelancing, or even starting your own business.

Try listing your skills into three categories:

Technical skills are those that include computers, machinery, or those specialized skills that you used on the job. For example, this may include computer programs you are proficient with, data management skills such as database design, or architectural skills.

Transferable skills are those that are helpful in any work environment. For example, they may include problem solving, the ability to adapt on the job, or a strong work ethic. It is important to be honest with yourself in terms of your personal strengths as an employee. To find the right job after retirement, you will need to have an accurate picture of what comes easiest to you.

People skills are those which allow you to work well with others. They may include the ability to negotiate well (helpful for sales), a talent for dealing with difficult customers, or strong communication skills.

b) Identify Your Interests

Take a look at your list of skills and circle those you actually enjoy. This can be the start of your list of interests. In addition, think through what you have enjoyed most about your career and add those aspects of your work history to your interest list as well. Examples might include meeting new people, working with a team, having creative autonomy, crunching numbers, or developing promotional materials. Or, maybe a specific project you worked on comes to mind.

In addition to thinking about work you have done, it is important to add to your interest list the kinds of work you have not done but may have always had an interest in. And, think about things that you simply enjoy doing such as crafts, hobbies, or travel. They all go on the list!

Once you have a well developed list of professional and personal interests, you will be in a much better position to think about the job opportunities for retirees in your area and make sure that you find a position that is a good fit for the most enjoyable aspects of your work style and personal passions.

c) Prioritize Your Needs and Wants

Another list? Yup. It is important to sit down and get real about your needs and wants before you start talking to potential employers or even applying for part time jobs.

Needs include things that you simply cannot compromise on. This may include a certain amount of money or the ability to flex your schedule to accommodate the grandkids and travel. Take your time thinking through your “must haves.” Keep these deal breakers in mind as you read through job ads. There is no point in applying for a job that requires you to work weekends when you know that isn’t going to be a good fit for your retirement lifestyle.

Wants matter too. When it comes down to evaluating your options, having a clear vision of the ideal situation is going to make a big difference. Be sure to revisit your list of interests to add insights on what you want out of your next job whether it is doing a specific type of work, using a special skillset, or working in a particular sector.

d) Refresh Your Master Resume

If you are about to retire, or have already done so, chances are it has been a while since you have last refreshed your resume. These days, it is important to customize your resume to the exact job that you are applying for. To make that process easier, many people choose to create a master resume which tends to be much longer than a regular resume and includes as much detail as possible on past jobs, including dates worked and contact information, and may even include a reference list.

You won’t be using your master resume as a document to actually apply for jobs. In fact, you may not be using your resume at all since some part time jobs only require an application. However, updating your master resume still has advantages. It gives you a chance to get all of the information in one place and make sure it is accurate, up to date, and complete. This includes updating skills, education, references, and your work history section. Then, pick and choose what you need whether you are putting together a customized resume, filling out your professional profile on LinkedIn, or filling out a job application.

e) Alert Your Network

Professional networking has always been an important aspect of building a career. This was true even before new tools such as social media and networking sites such as LinkedIn made online networking one popular option for making contacts quickly and easily. The fact is that whether your professional contacts are in person or online, before you start your job search, get the word out that you are looking for work.

  • Reach out to friends and family on social media, such as Facebook, to let them know you are looking for work and the types of opportunities you are most excited to explore.
  • Get active on professional networking sites such as LinkedIn if you plan to start a second career doing something you love or want to get busy in a second career. (This is not as important if you are planning to do entry level work just to stay busy.)
  • Make some phone calls to previous employers and colleagues to let them know what you are up to. Consider booking some lunch meetings to catch up and find out about potential opportunities to consult or work part time.
  • Get active with a local volunteer or non-profit organization to start building new contacts who are working on issues that get you excited about making your community better. Make sure the people you meet are aware that you are also looking for paid opportunities to put your skills to work.

What Types of Jobs Are Great for Retirees?

Of course, the answer to this question really depends on each individual. However, as food for thought, here are some ideas to get you thinking about some of the popular choices for people looking for a job after retirement:

a) Consulting

If you developed a highly specialized skillset or advanced to management or above in your career, then consulting is one way to monetize your expertise without the commitment of a full time job. The upsides of consulting include being able to be picky about the clients you work for and the projects that are most interesting. However, the downside is that it usually isn’t the fastest way to get a cash stream flowing.

b) Freelancing

If you have some in demand skills such as programming, researching grants, marketing, writing, editing, photography, web design, database management, among many others, then freelancing is a way to put them to good use generating income from the comfort of your home. The benefits include flexible hours and being choosy about clients. However, the gig economy doesn’t include benefits such as healthcare, pension plans, or even paid vacation or sick days.

Like consulting, it takes some time to build up a freelancing career. Consider using online platforms designed to connect freelancers with clients in need of their services, such as UpWork, FlexJobs, or CloudPeeps to get started and hone in on your favorite types of work before striking out on your own.

c) Seasonal Work

If steady income isn’t your top priority, then seasonal jobs may allow you to make the most of post-retirement work, while still saving large blocks of time for travel and leisure. Examples include working at a summer resort, ski lodge, or even on a cruise liner.

d) Teaching

Teaching is another popular option for retirees. If helping others learn is your passion, then there are plenty of ways to get in front of the people who want to learn from your knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Community colleges are often looking for teachers with real world experience in business, finance, healthcare, and the various professions.

If you would rather teach about a passion, such as art or fitness, you may find that your local parks and recreation program, community centers, and even retirement homes are looking to hire part time teachers with your focus. Finally, if you have a talent for math, science, history or other scholarly subjects, you may enjoy working as a substitute teacher in your local public education system.

e) Driving

A recent edition to the so-called gig economy are drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft. If you have a well maintained vehicle and enjoy meeting people and driving around town, then it might be worth looking into becoming a driver. The work tends to be extremely flexible so that it can adapt well to a busy and variable schedule.

f) Customer Service: Sales, Retail, Hospitality

If helping people made your list of skills and interests, then customer service or sales are excellent avenues to pursue if part time work after retirement is your goal. They are typically in demand and often appreciate the experience that retirees bring to the table. Many such jobs can include access to affordable healthcare if you are willing and able to put in 30 hours per week or more.

g) Retrain for a Second Career

Finally, don’t dismiss the idea of training for a second career. This is especially true if you are interested in pursuing a career in a high demand field such as nursing, software development, or in certain trades such as green technologies. If you have the time and the money to invest in your dream, the convenience of online learning opportunities has made it easier than ever to gain the knowledge and certifications you need to make a career shift and start something new – without having to go to a four year degree program.

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