Retired, not tired: How to get back to work when you thought you were done
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
You've officially retired. Perhaps you took time off to travel, and to work around your home and be with your family.
But for many retirees, something's missing—and that something is usually work. According to CareerBuilder's 2015 retirement survey, 54 percent of workers 60 and older say they will work part-time or full-time after their retirement, and lucky for them, 54 percent of employers hired mature workers in 2014—up from 48 percent in 2013. Kerry Hannon, retirement expert and author of "Love Your Job: New Rules for Career Happiness" and "Great Jobs for Everyone 50+," says that depression is common in retirees when they haven't found whatever their purpose is. "There's this sense that you need a reason to get up in the morning—they want to be relevant," she says.
Find your niche
Retirement is the perfect time to think hard about what the dream job is, and how to make it work—especially if money isn't an issue. Hannon suggests exploring the following kinds of second careers, which place a premium on experience:
- Trade associations
- Small businesses
If your vision of retirement is more about having fun, Hannon recommends:
- Ushering at sports games
- Working at National Parks
- Taking an RV host spot so you can travel and park for free
The other category of jobs Hannon calls "riding the age wave"—jobs for people in their 50s and 60s helping older folks with any specialized services they need, like driving, exercise, home modifications, massage therapy—the list is almost endless. And of course, there's always the option to start your own business—but make sure you know what you're doing before diving in headfirst, Hannon says.
Work on your own terms
Don't expect to make as much as you did when you were working at your old career. But you'll be more likely be able to negotiate your terms, or find a place that better suits what you're looking for. "Most people in this age cohort want to have some ability to telecommute or flextime, work a couple days a week—maybe a longer day if it's an office job or be able to work from home part of the time, just be treated like a grown-up," Hannon says. You can even negotiate more vacation time, or for other little perks that have a lot more value to you in retirement.
Another plus to having a little income on the side is that the longer you can wait to delay your Social Security benefits, the more you'll get—an 8 percent bump each year from retirement age up to 70.
There are some things that are mandatory for going back to work. First, get your LinkedIn profile current, and make sure your public-facing Twitter, Facebook, and any other accounts are portraying you in your best light. "You want a good photo, you want to show that you're active in LinkedIn groups, that you're an expert in your field, if possible. That's so helpful in job hunting, too," Hannon points out.
If you've been in a field like marketing, advertising, journalism, or communications, it's essential that you have a working knowledge of social media. If you can't find someone to teach you, community colleges generally have courses to help you learn these essentials. In an interview, you may have to prove that you're a team player—and not the old codger who will tell anyone passing by, "Well, in my day, we did it this way?" Though you do bring experience and expertise, you need to show that you're still enthusiastic, willing to listen, and happy to learn new things.
"It all comes down to respect, but you have to be careful in interviews not to date yourself in your language, in your references to something you did three decades ago," says Hannon. "Nobody cares."
However, there's at least one thing that was true fifty years ago and is still true today: First impressions count. "Ageism is alive and well," Hannon says. "Go shopping, get current clothes, get new specs, get your hair cut, whatever you want to do. If you want to dye your hair, by all means, do." She also says you should get physically fit. If you're fit, you'll give off a vibe that demonstrates the kind of energy and enthusiasm they're looking for.
Finally, Hannon recommends the following resources for senior job searchers:
- AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50
- Patina Solutions, a talent firm for experienced workers
- FlexProfessionals, an agency specializing in part-time employment
- Retired Brains, employment and entrepreneurial information for retirees
- CoolWorks, seasonal jobs for outdoorsy types
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