7 tips for working in retirement

Will you work after leaving your primary career? If the answer is yes, you will be in good company – an AARP survey reports that 80% of boomers plan to work full or part time after retirement. Finances are the biggest reason, but over one-third of those surveyed cited enjoyment of work as a factor, and doing something different enticed an additional five percent.

There are a number of options for working during the second half of your life. Let's look at several areas beyond the usual greeter, retailer, cashier, food preparer, and server positions.

  • Work part of the year.
    If you love the great outdoors, consider working at a national park, ski resort, ranch, theme park, tour company, on a ship, etc. For a seasonal commitment, you can receive lodging, meals, and a paycheck. It won't be the Ritz, and you won't make a fortune, but it may be the right thing if you're open to new experiences and like to work hard. For more information, contact www.coolworks.com - there is even a link for the “older and bolder.” or Xanterra Parks & Resorts (www.xanterra.com) if you're interested in managing the concessions (lodging, food, gift shops, etc.) at national/state parks or resorts.
  • Best employers for those 50 or better.
    The AARP publishes their “Best Employers for Workers Over 50” annually; AARP evaluates the companies on the following criteria: “recruiting practices, workplace culture, continued opportunities, employee benefits, retiree benefits, organization statistics, and innovative practices.” To access the latest (2008) list, go to www.aarp.org and click on the “2008 Best Employers Winners.” If you're within striking distance of one of these companies, it would be worth checking out.
  • Hot jobs.
    If you're looking for a new direction, but want to find out where the jobs are – or will be – check out the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, which is revised every other year. It contains a treasure trove of information about national growth projections, wages, education, and working conditions for specific careers. Access the newest edition of the handbook, the 2008 – 2009 edition, online at www.bls.gov/oco. Predicted areas of highest employment growth for the 2006 – 2016 period include jobs in healthcare (no big surprise as we boomers advance in age), computers, personal care, community and social services, and business and financial services. If these areas appeal to you, you're in luck!
  • Start your own business.
    Some retirees dream of taking a passion or hobby and turning it into a money-making venture – writing, painting, opening a restaurant or boutique or B&B, or having a consulting business, for example. Although two million Americans 55 and older are self-employed, the cold reality is that most businesses fail within the first three to five years. Carefully consider financial issues (cash flow, potential outside sources of money, develop a business plan, have a niche market), your personality (perseverance, ability to cope with rejection, stamina, desire and energy to solicit business, reasons for pursuing this goal), and kind of business (sole proprietorship, joint enterprise, corporation). Do you want to start a new business from scratch or buy into a franchise? Investments in franchises can begin under $2,500 and can climb into six or seven figures. Take a look at www.franchisedirect.com or www.franchise.com for more information.
  • Work from home.
    Although it seems that scams abound in this category (stuffing envelopes, anyone?) there is a definite legitimate side to this industry. “Homeshoring” allows customer service agents to work out of their home, primarily phone work and data entry. Some people hired for this type of work are independent contractors; others are employees of the company. Examples of firms that hire stay-at-home customer service reps: Working Solutions (www.workingsolutions.com), West Corp (www.workathomeagent.com), LiveOps (www.liveops.com), and Alpine Access (www.alpineaccess.com). Pay is usually around $7 - $30 an hour.
  • Teach English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL).
    If you'd like to combine work and travel, consider teaching English in a foreign country (or in locations within the United States). Many positions require a college degree; some require a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, which can be obtained in the United States. A good website is www.tesol.org, or look on www.eslemployment.com to get a sense of positions, locations, requirements, and pay.
  • Miscellaneous.
    Several other assorted thoughts: Become a Mystery Shopper (www.experienceexchange.com), Get gift certificates or paid to participate in surveys over the Internet (www.buzzback.com and www.gozing.com). Whether you are asked to participate in a survey is a function of the demographics a company needs. How about being a Club Med staffer? See www.clubmedjobs.com for more specifics. For Men Only (who like to dance): you can be a “gentleman host” on a cruise ship (www.compassspeakers.com). Would you like to be paid to exercise? Consider a stint as a dog walker/sitter – done on your own or as through a company such as LA County's Your Dog's Best Friend (www.yourdogsbestfriend.org).

Although not an exhaustive list by any means, you can see that a variety of second careers/jobs exist in a wide variety of fields. So, freshen up that resume (that's a future column) and start investigating!

Read more about Jan Cullinane and her work on her website, The New Retirement


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