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Retire for Hire: Picking a Post-Retirement Job That Fits You

Oct. 16, 2012
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Even if you’ve retired with a bit of a nest egg, and worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, you may find yourself eying the job market after a few months of rest and relaxation. Working full-time may no longer hold the same attraction, but there are still a number of valid reasons for wanting to rejoin the workforce. Of course, there’s always the money angle. But beyond that, there’s an intangible (albeit very real) feeling that you may not have taken the time to notice when you were working full-time: you’re good at something and people know it – one way or another, they depend on you. Even just volunteering can keep that feeling alive – not to mention keeping your skills honed and your perspective fresh.

With the rise of the Internet we all have access to an ever-widening set of tools to enable communication and facilitate common tasks. When you’re working again you may have more reason to make use of those tools, and if you’re a naturally curious person, you might enjoy exploring how they can increase your efficiency and expand your horizons. That, of course, tends to make you a more valuable employee when the next opportunity comes along.

Retirees talk about the challenges of “keeping busy,” or “finding something to do.” We all know how busy a full-time job can keep us, though – and how little can be accomplished despite all the hubbub. We’ve had enough of that. A well-chosen job in retirement can be an end-run around the kind of defeatist thinking that leaves people looking for something to keep busy with.

Babysitting, flipping burgers and working in retail are all honorable ways of earning a dollar, but let’s consider a few ideas that allow you to leverage who you are and what you’ve accomplished. None of these ideas fit everyone, but they may help you get moving in a productive direction.

  • Doing the same work, but less of it: even though you’ve gotten tired of the daily grind, using your proven skills a day or two a week might feel entirely different. If you liked your workplace, your old boss might welcome the prospect of not totally losing your skills. If not, contact similar firms. There are also consulting companies who need experts to hire out for short periods: try,, or
  • Sharing your expertise with others: there are people out there who would love to have your jobs skills. Check out the catalogs of non-credit classes at your local community college or county park and recreation department, and offer to teach one in your specialty. Start writing up an outline of the knowledge that you accumulated during your working life, and continue adding to it as new thoughts occur to you. You may be surprised by how much you have to offer, and you’ll have an invaluable tool to build a class around.
  • Using your everyday skills: we’re not all gifted with the same off-the-job skill set. Some of us can’t wait to build those shelves we’ve always needed or wire up a new light fixture in the garage. Others are threatened (or bored) by stuff like that, but have no problem at all setting the tension on their sewing machine and whipping up a new slipcover for the couch. It’s just a matter of putting your skills together with the person who needs them – try advertising on craigslist, or on the bulletin board at the local market. One home handyman I know wouldn’t think of taking every job that he’s offered; he just takes the ones that interest him, or sound like fun. Doesn’t sound so much like work, does it?
  • Building upon your interests: maybe you’re finally finding time for something that’s always fascinated you, like foraging for edible native plants, or exploring old ghost towns, or tracking undervalued stocks. Whatever your passion, there are people around who would like to be introduced to that passion by someone like you. Again, your local community college or parks and rec department can help you put a course together, and guide paying participants your way. Of course, the social benefits of this option are as important as the financial ones – for everyone involved.

You have talents and skills, and you’ve been in the workforce long enough to know what they are. Remember, you’re not some kid trying to talk their way into their first job with nothing to offer but enthusiasm. You’ve got a resume and a track record; you’re a proven quantity. Let people know that, and play to your strengths.