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What the experts have to say: Work after retirement

Barbara Babkirk is founder of the Portland-based Heart at Work Associates and the Boomer Institute, which specializes in matching baby boomers with work opportunities after retirement. “What next?” is the question Babkirk helps retirees answer.


Q: What should retirees be looking for in a second career?

A: It’s important to figure out what is most important for you at this stage. Do you want to use your skills and competencies to feel really engaged, is there a particular interest that you want to develop, or is there a value that you hold and do you want to find work that supports it?

For a lot of people, it’s the value. They’re looking to make a difference and want to know that what they’re doing is important. I think the #1 thing people are looking for is a sense of purpose. And that doesn’t necessarily mean working for a non-profit.

There’s also economics. Having a handle on what you need to earn to make ends meet in retirement is really important and will help guide you in your job search.

Q: How do you find meaningful employment in retirement?

A: Craft a resume, get to know the marketplace, and network. Let your friends and former colleagues know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for. Have those strategic conversations.

By the time you’re 50, you’ve developed a number of skills and competencies. When you have a lot of experience doing something, a lot of times you take it for granted and think everyone can do it, but that’s not the case.

It’s really important to recognize and articulate you’re skills and figure out the kind of contributions you want to make.

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