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Jumpstart Your Search for a Part-Time Job in Retirement

5 tips for seeking work that stimulates, satisfies or just pays the bills

By Nancy Collamer

A reader recently asked about how to go about finding meaningful part-time work after he retires in a couple of years. "I don't know where to look for meaningful part-time work," he wrote. "Next to that is how to reach out. To whom and how? How to get started on this?"

A retired woman looking for a part-time job. Next Avenue, retirement, part-time job

While 2.6 million more Americans than expected retired early during the pandemic, many are looking to return to the workforce, preferably on their terms. As of March 2022, 3.2% of workers who were retired a year earlier are employed again, according to an Indeed.com analysis of Labor Department data. And, with inflation rising and stocks losing steam, it's likely that more retirees will want to — or need to — return to work, at least part-time.

So, how do you begin to find meaningful part-time work after retirement? Following are five steps to help get you focused and moving forward:

Think hard about what you want, then methodically search for a job that fits.

1. Be clear about why you want to work in retirement. Whether your primary goal is to earn income or find meaningful work, defining your "must-haves" "nice to haves" and "deal breakers" will guide your decisions going forward. Think about how, why and when you want to work. Ask yourself how much you want or need to earn. Think about whether you need a job that challenges you creatively or intellectually. Consider what type of work schedule will best suit you. Do you want to try to turn a hobby into a source of income? Perhaps you would prefer to continue in your old line of work, but on a more flexible basis, perhaps as a trainer, coach or consultant.

2. Research flexible opportunities in your target industries. If it's been a while since you last looked for work, you'll be pleased to discover that the options for high-quality flexible, virtual and project work have increased dramatically in recent years.

Here are three ways to learn more about options in your industry:

  • Explore industry associations. Many sponsor webinars, newsletters, job boards and conferences that are invaluable for both newcomers and industry veterans. They can alert you to growth niches within the industry, as well as certification programs that can help you quickly and inexpensively pivot into a new role. To locate an industry association in your interest area, simply do a Google search or consult the Gale Encyclopedia of Associations, which can be found online or in the reference section of your library.
  • Consult job boards that focus on flexible and gig work. There are a growing number of online platforms, like FlexJobs.com, Freelancer.com or SideHusl.com, that specialize in flexible work. In addition to job postings, they have helpful advice about navigating the world of flexible work.
  • Find assignments with temporary or professional service firms. These days, many companies rely upon temporary agencies to fill professional level jobs. To find a firm in your target industry, ask for referrals from colleagues, or do a Google search using terms like, “interim executive” “staffing agency” or “professional services firm.”
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3. Address the gaps in your background. If you're moving into a new field or role, consider taking a course, workshop or online certification program to improve the likelihood of quickly landing a new gig. You can find thousands of free, or nearly-free, training classes offered through platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning and EdX. Also, check out the many classes and certification programs offered through community colleges or industry groups, many of which are now available online.

4. Update your LinkedIn profile or create one if you have not already done so. Once you gain clarity around your desired direction, refresh your profile to reflect your career aspirations.

A refreshed LinkedIn page is as important today as an updated resume was a generation ago

A few key suggestions:

  • Replace your old headline with one that summarizes the role you want to do next because your headline is the first thing potential connections or employers see. For example, "Financial analyst in the retail industry seeking consulting and freelance work" or "I help environmental non-profits attract more donations and volunteers. Open to consulting or board opportunities."
  • Update the other sections of your LinkedIn profile (About, Experience, etc.) to include training, volunteer or consulting experience related to your new job target.
  • If you're looking for virtual work, highlight keywords that demonstrate your mastery of the technology and skills needed to work remotely.
  • Once you have updated your LinkedIn profile, revise your resume to be in line with your new goals as well.

5. Tell your network you are available for work. Networking is the best way to land meaningful work in retirement, just as it was when you were looking for a "real" job. After telling your current employer of your plan to retire, let your colleagues and friends know you are interested in part-time work. To make it easy for people to help, be clear about the type of work and hours you want.

And don't forget to end every networking conversation by asking who else you should speak with. You never know who might end up being the pivotal link to your next consulting, temp, board or part-time role.

Photograph of Nancy Collamer
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com (and you'll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter). Read More
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