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Work Opportunities for Pre-Retirees Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Question: I have just turned 60 and am looking for new opportunities for the next 5 years until retirement. I have read that organizations are looking for experienced people to assist for varying times depending on projects or staffing requirements. I have 36 years of sales and marketing management experience plus instructing business subjects part time at community college. Can you recommend an approach to best pursue these types of opportunities.

Roger W., London, Ontario
Dear Roger,

These days there are all sorts of way to keep working in those years before retiring, and even afterward into semi-retirement if you'd care to continue in the workforce. Given Canada's aging population and our increased healthiness past age 60, there are more and more people in situations similar to yours: mature people who are hardly ready for languid days filled with golf and shuffleboard, yet well past the point of wanting to burn the midnight oil and work like a 30-year-old who has a gargantuan mortgage and 2.3 kids to feed.

I know of a woman in her early 60s, for example, who thrives on taking ''interim'' roles as a senior finance specialist in small to mid-sized companies that are in distress. Through one of the executive recruiters here in Toronto, she finds interim executive roles in firms that are on the brink of failing for one reason or another. She's parachuted in for six months to a year maximum, and her role, essentially, is to save the existing management group. There are interim roles of varying kinds to be had in each province, at the executive and less senior levels. Check out the executive recruiting firms and personnel or temp agencies in the city where you live. Also do a search on the job boards, using your city and the keywords ''contract'' or ''temp'' or 'interim' as criteria.

Interesting that you mention teaching at community college, by the way. That's another great source of part-time employment for people with years of experience. Colleges and trade schools look for instructors who have a wealth of first hand knowledge about their subject areas, and who are able to share this with students (better yet if you can also do so arrestingly). Check out the websites of colleges and trade schools (the latter are known as ''career colleges'' too) by finding them at SchoolFinder.com, one of the leading sites in Canada for info and links to post-secondary education institutes.

If you happen to still be working full-time, Roger, an option you might consider would be to ask for part-time hours at your current place of employment to reduce your workload and start your semi-retirement. Employers may be willing to entertain this idea if you present it as a way for them to reduce their costs (they'll save having to pay you your whole salary), and as a way of retaining your years of expertise and ''employer memory.'' This term refers to the fact that you've been around to see how the place operates in good times and bad ones, which initiatives have worked well and which ones have flopped, and you can therefore serve as a mentor to the new crop of employees they bring in (and prevent them from repeating errors).

Something else you can consider is dabbling in consulting. With your 36 years in sales and marketing, you've obviously picked up a few pointers about what's effective. The fact that you're already imparting your insights to college students strongly suggests you could also do so to employers who need some outside support in your areas of expertise.

One other thing that will be helpful for you is to prepare a financial plan so that you're clear on how a reduced work load will affect your bottom line. I recommend that you seek advice first from a financial planner who charges you for their professional advice alone, not one that tries to sell you products. That part can come later if you need to follow that route.

So Roger, see if you can get more courses allotted to you by the college. Or apply to other colleges and career colleges within commuting distance. And, explore the different opportunities I've described above. If you're truly keen on working for years to come, now is the time to begin your search in a number of different quarters. Best of luck to you.

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