Entering retirement age doesn’t have to mean the impending end of rewarding work or a reliable paycheck. In fact, retirement could represent the start of doing something that you’ve always wanted to do and getting paid for it.
More people aged 65 and older “are working than at any time since the turn of the century,” according to 2016 Pew Research Center analysis of employment data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. One in five Americans ages 65 and older reported being employed full or part time according to an analysis of January 2017 employment data by The New School for Social Research. Some 5.8 million people worked full time (35-plus hours), and 3.2 million people worked part time, according to Michael Papadopoulos, a research assistant at the school who calculated the numbers based on the January 2017 Current Population Survey.
New School for Social Research Professor Teresa Ghilarducci says that many people continue to work because they need the income to cover rising expenses in retirement, such as health care and long-term care needs.
Others work longer because they want to; they enjoy the social interaction or they want to continue to feel like a productive member of society. And still others work longer out of both need and want.
There are many part-time and full time opportunities for older Americans, however, figuring out what professional path to pursue can feel daunting. And for those who don’t want the stress of working full time, what’s the best way to find a good-paying part-time job?
Here are some tips on how to find rewarding work later in life.Ask yourself: why do you want to work? Determine the real reason you want to work, advises Rich Feller, a professor at Colorado State University who specializes in career development. “Is it for financial reasons, are you seeking meaning, social connections or a way to build structure and fill time?” he asks. “If you don’t clarify that upfront, it’s really difficult to know where you’ll find satisfaction and meaning.”
Determine your skills, interests and values. Connect your aptitude and natural abilities with your values and interests, says Feller. “Don’t chase your passion,” he says. “Bring your passion to doing what you do best.” Need some help to figure this out? Consider taking a self-assessment test to learn more about your strengths, values and personality type.
Embrace learning. You might need new skills and increased knowledge to land the job you desire. Check out online and in-person classes, certification and degree programs. The American Association of Community Colleges’ Plus 50 Initiative has information on community colleges that offers courses for adults aged 50 and older. Feller also recommends weekend bootcamps or “reverse mentoring,” where younger workers teach older workers new skills.
Tap into your network. Network with friends, relatives and other connections to find job opportunities. “Find the people with the power to hire,” says Feller.
Scour job sites. Actively search job websites and set up alerts to keep up with the latest opportunities. RetirementJobs.com, RetiredBrains.com and ARRP’s LifeReimagined.com are some of the sites that cater to older workers.
Think about self-employment. “The best solution for many in these circumstances is to make a successful transition to self-employment,” says Michael Kennedy, president of coaching and consulting firm Your Future Reimagined. “My recommendation for people looking for part-time work in retirement would be to first explore opportunities to create their own job.” Consider building a business that accommodates other priorities in life, and also reflects the hours that you want to work, he says.
Consider what you already do. Some workplace may accommodate reduced hours as a transition into full retirement or the option to be hired back on contract at reduced hours, says Kennedy. Another option: explore consulting and contract opportunities in an industry or profession in which you already have many years of expertise and experience, he says.
Turn your hobbies into a career. Kennedy also recommends “monetizing” hobbies. “I am a competitive paddler and there are many in my space who now work part-time as coaches after retiring from their corporate careers,” he says.
Colorado State University’s Feller adds that those who are considering this should be sure that they both excel at their hobby, and that they can make money from it. Kennedy suggests first testing a concept with potential clients before fully relying on this path as a source of income. “Until you have real customers prepared to part with their hard-earned money for your product or service, it will remain just a hobby,” he says.