Column: Back to the workforce

I recently went shopping at Safeway and Bed, Bath and Beyond and noticed a common denominator: grey hair. Or to be more politically correct (which is not my style at all), mature workers. Apparently, lots of retirees are finding stay-at-home retirement boring, and choose instead, to be productive, whether it’s at a paid job or as a volunteer. Other retirees find themselves struggling financially and need part-time or even full-time work to make ends meet.

Whatever the case, there is an overwhelming number of workers age 60 and older who are populating the workforce. People are living longer, and many want to continue contributing to society, in whatever way they can. Often, it’s at a job that’s totally unrelated to their former career. They had decades of stress in their career, and now they want a change of pace and some extra cash each month.

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I know of a retired school principal who found retirement totally unsatisfying. While he and his wife travel quite a bit, he just didn’t envision himself “on vacation” for the remainder of his life. So, he now works full-time at Home Depot. He loves advising people on building and fix-it projects and he’s great at what he does.

Other retirees look for, or fall into jobs (paid or volunteer) that closely mirror their former careers. That happened to me. My first volunteer job after retirement was in the Family Resource Centre (more or less like a library) at the Children’s Hospital. The human resources person who interviewed me and saw 34 years of library experience on my resume practically wet her pants. She hired me on the spot.

It took me a year of volunteering there to realize that I wanted to experience life outside of libraries. It was a nice volunteer job but way too quiet and slow-paced for me.

A close friend of mine worked as a neonatal intensive care nurse for over 35 years and when she retired, she thought she’d try her hand at painting. Having raised three kids and had a successful career, it was time play outside the box. Turns out she’s a phenomenally talented painter and absolutely loves it! She discovered a talent and passion she didn’t even know she had.

Jobs like driving for food delivery companies, or Uber-equivalents tend to draw lots of older folks who want the money but not the stress of a regular 9-5 job. No boss breathing down their neck, no water cooler gossip. Just simple, honest work.

Finding a post-retirement passion/volunteer opportunity/job isn’t always easy and may require some research. My advice to you is this: talk to retired friends and look online for ideas before you retire. There’s a great big world of opportunities out there just waiting for you to show up. May the force be with you.

Shelley Civkin, the retired “Face of Richmond,” was a Librarian & Communications Officer at Richmond Public Library for nearly 30 years, and author of a weekly book review column for 17 years.

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