You may have just started thinking about retirement. Or you may have taken an early retirement and are now thinking you may go back to work.
Whatever your situation, careful planning is the key to making a successful transition to post-retirement employment. Knowing your skills, interests, needs and wants will let you build enthusiasm, focus your job search and overcome any barriers you might face. This article will help you identify your skills and resources and evaluate your work options after retirement.
You Have a Lot to Offer
If you’re over 50 and working or looking for work, you’re not alone. You’re part of a growing and diverse group of people in their 50s, 60s and 70s staying in or returning to the workforce. As a mature worker you’ve developed valuable skills, abilities and knowledge over your lifetime. When people like you leave the workforce, organizations can lose experience, leadership and history. Employers and policy makers realize this and are taking steps to support and encourage mature workers.
Your financial reality
If you’re still working
- What is your employer’s retirement policy? If you have a pension plan at work, what income will you receive from it? Ask your employer for this information.
- What non-pension retirement savings do you have, such as a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), and what will they pay you on retirement?
- How much income will you need after retirement to support yourself in the lifestyle you prefer? You may want to talk to a qualified financial planner for help. To find a financial planner, ask at your financial institution or visit the Financial Planning Standards Council.
- What federal government pensions and support are you eligible to receive and when? For more information, visit Service Canada Retirement Planning or call the Canada Pension Plan phone line toll-free at 1-800-277-9914.
If you’re retired and thinking about returning to work
- How will retiring but continuing to work affect your taxes? Visit the Canada Revenue Agency Seniors and choose “When You Retire,” or call toll-free at 1-800-959-8281.
Your health and lifestyle
- How will your health or your responsibility to care for a spouse or other family member affect your ability to work after retirement?
- How will you balance your work with leisure and family time?
- What are your work-related or technical skills? Do you need to update them? Do you want to continue using these skills in your work?
- What are your strongest employability or transferable skills, the key skills used in almost every kind of work? To find out more, read Marketing Your Employability Skills.
- What skills have you gained from non-work activities, like hobbies or volunteering?
Think about what you want from a job
- Besides a paycheque, what are your reasons for working after you retire?
- What kind of work energizes you? What do you love to do?
- What kind of work tires you?
- What do you miss—or if you’re still working, what will you miss—about work?
Look at your options
With your years of experience, you may have more options than ever before. If you already have an adequate pension and are no longer supporting a family, you may have the freedom to choose work to suit your interests and passions.
- Stay where you are
A growing number of employers are using phased-in retirement as a way to deal with labour and skills shortages. Depending on your employer’s retirement policy, you may be able to
- work part-time
- job share with a co-worker
- work on a contract basis or as a consultant
- Move sideways
You may decide to look for work in the same or a similar occupational area, such as
- working for a new employer at a job similar to the one you had before retirement
- using your skills in a different way, e.g. a carpenter moving from the construction industry to a woodworking shop
- focusing on different skills, e.g. a graphic artist working part-time as a paper products representative
- working as a consultant or starting a related business
- Move in a different direction
You may decide to try something new, such as
- using your employability skills in a new area, e.g. a project manager working as a fundraiser for a not-for-profit organization
- turning something you enjoy into a new career, e.g. an avid skier working part-time as a ski instructor
- turning a hobby into a business, e.g. a quilter starting an online quilting supply business
- Work the alternatives
Looking for the flexibility that will let you spend more time with family or pursue other interests like travel or hobbies? You may want to
- explore alternatives to full-time employment
- consider part-time work, consulting, job sharing, on-call work, temporary assignments and other alternatives that allow you more freedom
- find out more about work alternatives—check out Alternatives to Traditional Full-Time Employment.
Smooth the transition
Use the following suggestions to smooth your transition to post-retirement employment:
- Look for work with an organization that values a diversity of age and experience. You want an employer who’ll let you work as long as you want and are able to.
- Ease into the transition. If you’re interested in something new, take a course or try multi-tracking—working part-time at your current job and part-time at your new interest.
- Stay in touch with your network. Let your co-workers, friends and community contacts know about your plans.
- Keep your skills, contacts and resumé up-to-date. You never know when an opportunity might come up.
- Take advantage of positive beliefs employers have about older workers—commitment, reliability and a strong work ethic—and deal with any negative beliefs about older workers, such as an unwillingness to try new things. To find out more about this topic, read the article Over 45 and Looking for Work?
Working after retirement can be a great opportunity for you to do more of what you love, contribute your skills and experience and increase your financial security. Careful career planning will help you make the most of this opportunity. Balance is especially important at this stage in your career. Look for flexibility in the work you choose, so you’ll have time to enjoy the things that mean the most to you.