Money & Policy

13 Tips for Finding Work in Retirement

How to plan ahead to line up income opportunities

(This article appeared previously on MarketWatch.com.)

Many boomers and older Americans are interested in continuing to work after leaving, or retiring from, the field in which they’ve worked most of their lives. Some need the income, while others wish to continue to be challenged and feel they need to continue to work to be happy.

This article provides some direction should you be interested in an encore career or continuing to work in some capacity after “retiring.” Those who begin their thinking and their planning well in advance of leaving their job will find the path much easier to follow.

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Here are 13 tips and resource lists to explore different kinds of careers and jobs (it includes my own site, Retired Brains):
1. Line up work before you leave. Talk to department heads/hiring managers at your employer before retiring and make sure they understand that you are available for project assignments after you “retire.” It’s the hiring managers that make these decisions and they are the HR department’s clients. Build a departure network. That doesn't mean you shouldn’t also connect with appropriate managers within HR. Do this as well.
2. Define your value. Outside of your former employers, you must be able to identify your value to prospective consulting clients or consulting firms to appropriately market yourself. To do this, you should:
  • Assess your experience, skill sets, general knowledge, etc.
  • Assess how your experience translates to marketable skills of value to their needs.
  • Identify potential market opportunities.
  • Look for a place to start as a consultant. (Remember, referencing working for another firm is secondary to project work on your own.) When you first start looking for projects either on your own or with a consulting company you won't have a proper understanding of this market and you won't have the appropriate information to reach prospects to “sell” your value. This will take time as you build experience and the development of a referral network that comes from working on projects as a consultant and problem solver.

3. Identify future employers. Network in your industry with employers who are competitors or at least identify them and if possible identify hiring managers within these organizations while you are still working so you can contact them for project assignments after you “retire.” Perhaps do so at trade shows and other such venues. The location of these firms need not be local as you could elect to work a project assignment in another geographic location.

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4. Look for companies needing your skills. Identify firms outside of your industry that hire people with your experience and skill sets so you can contact them for project assignments after you retire.
5. Look into consulting. Depending on your function and industry, consider starting a consulting firm where you can offer your services on a project basis after you retire. You should also consider identifying and becoming affiliated with existing consulting firms that serve the markets in which you are involved. Maintain your network as this is extremely valuable to you as well as any firm you may join.
6. Volunteer to explore opportunities. In some cases consider volunteering using your experience on a project basis. Some of these assignments provide payment for your services but most don't. Volunteering also has other advantages as it builds experience and can sometimes lead to prestigious board or committee positions or invitations.

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7. Learn to work off-site. Many executives, managers and professionals don't have the skills to work virtually and collaboratively. If you don't possess these skills, you must get training if you hope to be successful in acquiring project assignments after retiring. Much of the project or consultative work you get is likely to be done remotely as opposed to on site. You will need “leading edge” communications skills to be successful and if you don’t already have them, you must acquire them — preferably before leaving you job.
8. Look for part-time work. Search for a temporary, part-time, project-based or seasonal job while you’re still working full time for a better idea of what the market space looks like.
9. Check with employment firms. These staffing firms provide opportunities that vary substantially depending on your interests, experience and skillsets:


10. For those interested in volunteering you can check/research many different kinds of opportunities. Here are two:
11. If you are a professional interested in project assignments or working on a freelance basis, visit sites that will assist you. Here are three:
12. Check out sites that provide professional projects information. Here are two:

Professional Projects, Inc. (Cypress, Texas)
PPS Engineers (Raleigh, N.C.) 
13. For those interested in starting a small business, prowl around this excellent resource; it includes a list of small businesses successfully started by retirees:
Note: The information in this article was found useful and was provided by those who were interested in continuing to work after their retirement. The author has visited each site but makes no representation as to their legitimacy or value. As in any investment of time or money it is important for the reader to do her/his own research and use an accountant or attorney when appropriate.

Art Koff is the founder of RetiredBrains.com, a site that serves boomers, retirees and people planning retirement; he’s also the author of Invent Your Retirement: Resources for the Good Life, published by Oakhill Press. 

By Art Koff
Art Koff is the founder of Retired Brains, a website that provides information about retirement for boomers, retirees and people planning to retire.@artkoff

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