Outside the Box: Retired but eager to resume part-time work? Here’s how to find the right gig

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I recently retired from my corporate job and enjoyed being in the office each day. Financially, I am secure but I’m not ready to quit working altogether. I’m looking for a part-time job that will satisfy my desire to be around people while not overtaxing me. Any ideas for ideal part-time jobs? 

D.D., Dallas, Texas 

Dear D.D.,

The best part-time jobs don’t announce themselves. You need to ask around and find them.

That’s especially true when you’re retired and ready to resume part-time work. Unless your former employer wants to bring you back on your terms, the search for a new gig requires diligent research and networking.

Start with a self-assessment. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing and what motivates you now that you’re retired.

“Think about why you are looking for a job,” said Allison Task, a career and life coach in Montclair, N.J. “You can get a job, but a job has requirements. If you’re financially secure, maybe you should broaden your view to include volunteer work, a board seat or joining a community group” like the Village to Village Network. [https://www.vtvnetwork.org]

If you enjoyed socializing with office mates—and you want to be around people—beware of what you wish for. Pardon my curmudgeonly tone, but there’s no guarantee a new group of colleagues will meet or exceed your expectations.

I know several retirees in your position who decided to join a nonprofit board or serve on a local government committee, only to deal with difficult personalities and petty political squabbles. So before you consider part-time (or volunteer) work, confirm that you’ll spend time with people you like and respect.

The next step is to identify your interests and strengths—or what management theorists call “core competencies.” What do you do better than most people? What traits do you possess that set you apart?

“List your job skills,” said Task, author of “Personal Revolution.” “Zero in on skills you’ve already developed and where those skills are in demand.”

If you’re an extrovert who retired from a successful sales career, working part-time as a host, greeter or retail associate may make sense. If your corporate job involved hiring and training employees, contact HR consulting firms that seek part-time recruiters or webinar designers.

Thanks to your financial security, you have the luxury of turning a longtime hobby into part-time income. Task cites a family friend who retired at age 55 after a satisfying career working in a steel mill.

“He loves golf, so he started working part-time at a golf course,” she said. “It worked out great for him.”

Even though you’re retired, it’s not too late to engage in self-discovery. Explore new types of work that provide intellectual, physical or social stimulation.

Deb Mitchell is a career and executive coach at Crossworks, an Ohio-based career counseling firm. To help clients match their personality, interests and experience with a job, she administers a personality assessment.

“We use Birkman [personality assessment] as a centerpiece,” Mitchell said.

Networking also opens doors for retirees in search of work. Ask your former colleagues for advice and use them as a sounding board. If you belong to membership organizations or professional associations, tap their resources to uncover fresh opportunities.

Here’s another idea: Harness the expertise you’ve gained from your corporate career by partnering with a younger go-getter in the business world where you mentor each other. A fan of Chip Conley’s “Wisdom at Work,” Mitchell suggests that wisdom can flow both ways as retirees and rising stars share knowledge and support each other’s success.

Finally, you mention that you want to find work that’s not overtaxing. That may mean accepting part-time work that initially seems, well, unconventional.

A 60-year-old friend in Vermont sought a relatively easy part-time job near her home in which she could work outside. So she landed a position as a crossing guard. It pays $22/hour and she’s thrilled.

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