Finding Part-Time Work in Retirement

The idea of continuing to work — at least part-time — is growing more popular with retirees. As that notion catches on, new opportunities are becoming available for those seeking a post-career “bridge” job — if you know where to look.

There’s a new retirement model emerging that may seem like a cool-down period after an intense workout at the gym. Rather than abruptly heading for the proverbial showers when you stop working full-time, you may want to create a transition period that could last well into your 70s. During that time, you’ll likely continue working, but at a less rigorous pace.
Part-time retirement work is popular
According to an AARP survey, seven out of 10 older workers expect to work in retirement, and about half of future retirees say they’ll continue working for pay. But the clear goal is for a less stressful, part-time job with flexible hours. In fact, nearly 75% of older workers surveyed said a flexible schedule was “absolutely essential.”

A convergence of economic and demographic factors will make it likely that future retirees can craft a post-career “bridge” job. But it will take, well, work, to push through some still-lingering biases against older workers.

Fortunately, the era of post-career jobs where you believe you can make a difference — often referred to as encore careers — is moving into the mainstream.

In fact, in 2009, Congress passed legislation that launched “encore fellowships” for retirees looking for post-career work in the government and nonprofit sectors. According to a 2011 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures study of the approximately 100 million Americans ages 44 to 70, roughly: 9 million are currently in encore careers and 31 million are interested in encore careers.

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How to create a bridge job
If you want to create a bridge job in today’s new reinvented retirement, you’ll want to look for opportunities persistently and then convince prospective employers that you can help them.

Art Koff, who founded, says employers often have a preference for younger workers: “If you have to train someone, a younger worker is often seen as a better investment, because she will potentially work longer.”

So Koff recommends you focus on your network of past employers and colleagues. If they know you, your skills, and your work ethic, they’re more likely to want to hire you.

That’s exactly what Barbara Weiner* of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, found in her retirement job search. After retiring from a 30-year career as an elementary school counselor, she was getting nowhere in her search for part-time work. “Nobody wants someone they don’t know,” she says.

Undeterred, Weiner circled back to her contacts and told them she was looking for part-time work. It took about six months, but eventually she landed her dream retirement job, thanks to a lead from someone who knew her work.

Weiner wound up working 16 hours a week as a crisis counselor. “I work three days a week doing what I love, but it’s not a draining full-time job,” she says. Her advice: “Get the word out. You have to let everyone know that you are looking.”
How flexibility can be a plus
Your flexibility can actually be an advantage when looking for part-time work. “What many employers want are project or short-term temporary workers,” says Koff, whose website includes a databank of jobs for older workers. “I always tell retirees looking for work: ‘Stress your flexibility.’ ”

Too often, Koff says, he sees resumes that don’t specifically say the retiree isn’t looking for a full-time job with benefits.

For help finding this work, you might check out the website Your Encore. It matches highly skilled retirees with project work typically spanning two to six weeks but sometimes lasting up to a year.
Where the encore jobs will be
Barry Bluestone, a Northeastern University professor of political economy, expects the following fields will have the biggest growth in demand for encore career workers between now and 2018. They’re listed in descending order, starting with fields with the largest projected growth.
Primary, secondary and special education teachers
Registered nurses
Home health aides
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants
Medical assistants
Licensed practical and vocational nurses
Business operations specialists
General and operations managers
Child-care workers
Teacher assistants
Receptionists and information clerks
Medical and health service managers
Social and human service assistants
Source: After the Recovery: Help Needed: The Coming Labor Shortage and how people in Encore Careers Can Help Solve It
Why you may be in demand
Labor experts actually expect a job shortage later this decade. Once baby boomers retire, there probably won’t be enough younger workers to fill all the open jobs. So, absent a huge increase in global outsourcing, older workers will be in demand.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the percentage of female workers 65 to 74 will rise from 12% today to 27% in 2018. “Even if all the younger workers are employed, there will still be significant opportunities for older people,” Bluestone says.

Because part-time jobs typically don’t offer benefits but Medicare kicks in at age 65, employers will also find it advantageous to seek out older workers.

You may also be in demand because employers really admire key traits of older workers. A survey by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College found that most employers believe older workers are far more loyal and reliable than younger workers.
Resources for part-time job seekers
These websites could help you find a part-time retirement job:

  • This site has a job-search databank with companies that earned it the “age friendly” seal of approval, including H&R Block, Wells Fargo, and Staples.

  • This site for Encore Careers, part of the think tank Civic Careers, features a database of nonprofit and government jobs for retirees.

  • The service for people looking for encore careers was launched with backing from Procter & Gamble, Eli Lilly, Boeing, and General Mills, who wanted to tap the expertise of retired scientists, engineers, product developers, and business development experts.

Key Points:

  • To find a part-time job in retirement, network furiously.
  • Employers increasingly will want to hire retirees looking for part-time work.
  • Consider an encore job where you can work and help make a difference.

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