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9 Ways to Find Temporary Work in Retirement

Teresa Mears

More people are discovering that retirement doesn't mean stopping work.

Those who find that retirement is not as interesting as they had hoped seek work as a way to meet people and stretch their minds. Others discover their incomes aren't enough to cover the expenses of retirement and the extras, particularly travel, that they desire.

Temporary and seasonal jobs can provide income and experience without a long-term commitment, and there are many opportunities for retirees to do short-term jobs.

"It's a really great lifestyle," says Jody Anderson Duquette, who with her father, Steve Anderson, runs the membership site Workamper News, which provides job listings and advice for people who are living mostly in RVs. "It's a great way for folks to continue to feel useful and keep their minds sharp and their bodies agile."

Many of the jobs sought by "workampers" come with RV spaces. A lot of those jobs are seasonal, at resorts, national parks, amusement parks, ski resorts and other businesses that do the bulk of their business at one time of year. Over the years, jobs have included picking berries in Vermont, harvesting sugar beets in the Dakotas and counting alligators in Florida, as well as working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and at Amazon warehouses. "There's a variety of things that people can do," Anderson says.

Most of these jobs pay minimum wage or close to it, making them a better choice for someone to whom seeing the country is more important than making money. "It's a good way for folks to get to know an area," Duquette says.

But retirees also can find temporary jobs that pay more, particularly if they have experience in a field that lends itself to consulting. Accountants can hang up a shingle or work for a tax preparation company during tax season, while doctors, nurses and entertainers can take a gig on a cruise ship. Many retail businesses hire extra help during the holiday season.

"Most of the professional managers and executives who start their own business start a consulting business," says Art Koff, 80, a former advertising executive who founded RetiredBrains.com in 2003 as a jobs and information resource for seniors. "You have a choice of either working for yourself or working for an existing company or working through an existing company." Koff launched TempAndPartTimeJobs.com last year.

Working through an existing company often means signing on to what young people call the "gig economy." Companies such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and DogVacay provide a way for workers of all ages to offer their services on a job-by-job basis.

The Internet also makes it possible for retirees to start businesses they can run from anywhere. Plus, it's possible to find legitimate work-from-home opportunities with existing companies, says Koff, who lists such opportunities on his site.

Older workers may be surprised to hear that their skills are in demand for temporary and part-time work, especially for jobs that require dealing with the public.

"That's a big surprise to most older workers, who assume that most employers are not interested in them," Koff says.

Doing seasonal work frequently done by students gives older Americans both the opportunity and the challenge of adapting to a diverse workplace. "You are working with folks in these situations from 18 to 80," says Patty Ceglio, Web recruiting and seasonal human resources specialist for CoolWorks.com, which lists seasonal and temporary jobs. Ceglio estimates that about a third of the site's clients fit into what she calls the "older and bolder" demographic. "An open mind is really important."

Most temporary jobs that require you to work on-site pay you as an employee, deducting Social Security and other taxes. Other types of jobs, particularly project-based opportunities, classify you as a contractor, paying you a flat fee and leaving the payroll taxes up to you.

Here are nine ways to find temporary work in retirement.

Offer your services to your former employer. Many companies need temporary help from time to time, either at busy seasons, for special projects or to replace employees who are on vacation or maternity leave. Someone who is already trained and a familiar face is nearly always more desirable than a newcomer.

Check job bulletin boards. Most job listings are online at big services such as Monster.com, indeed.com and CareerBuilder.com, but you may find local temp jobs listed on Craigslist, on bulletin boards and in newspaper ads. Workamper.com and Coolworks.com are two of several sites that list seasonal jobs, including jobs for RVers.

Contact temp firms. Every major city has an agency that specializes in temporary employment. Many of the jobs are clerical, but there are also positions for professionals and managers. In these situations, you are usually an employee of the agency, which takes a commission from the company where you are placed.

Keep in touch with former colleagues. Professional contacts are likely to be the first to hear about openings for temporary workers or projects where help is sought. People who know you and your work will recommend you for these jobs.

Join the gig economy. Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, DogVacay and similar companies allow individuals of all ages to offer their services by the job.

Start a consulting business. Professionals in many fields offer their services as consultants after they retire. This allows them to choose jobs by the project and take extended time off between assignments.

Start a small service business. Pet-sitting, childminding, house cleaning, plumbing, writing and many other personal service jobs, including providing services for older people, are a self-employment option for retirees. If you have a crafty bent, you can sell your creations on Etsy or eBay.

Buy and sell things. If you like flea markets and yard sales, and you know what things are worth, you can buy items to sell at a markup online. That could be books you sell on Amazon, collectibles you sell on eBay or furniture you sell locally on Craigslist.

Talk to others in your situation. Workamper News has online forums, plus it holds an annual in-person meeting designed to educate "dreamers" about the RV-working lifestyle. LivingtheRVDream.com also hosts in-person meetings, as well as providing podcasts and advice. But remember that no amount of web advice can substitute for talking to people in the field.

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