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What If Retirement Includes Work?

Mar 4, 2008
Part of the joy of retiring is spreading our wings, trying new things. Sometimes that can include trying our skills in a new industry. But how do we go about the business of convincing others we are a resource?

The key element in finding the work you want is converting yourself into a
resource for the industry you have selected.

To do this well, you need to do some homework. First, you need to find certain "experts" who are already at elevated levels in this industry and do "informational interviews" with them, finding out as much as possible about the key issues and challenges facing them. You will then need to use this information to develop your "pitch."

A pitch is a concise but clear articulation of why you would be a resource to this industry, and, most particularly at this phase, why you are a resource to the person you are addressing. How do you see the future of his/her industry? How are you a person who both understands the challenges of the future and yet has developed strategies in the past which could be useful in responding to these challenges. The pitch is an action shot of "challenge" and "solution" told with precision and enthusiasm. What do you see, how do you see it, and how you propose to be a part of the solution.

The delivery of the pitch, of course, is dependent on the previous work you have done. You are comfortable and confident being in the presence of strangers. You are not intimidated by people of another generation who may be very successful in their field. And you have practiced your material so your intensity is attuned to the person you are addressing.

Suppose you have never worked in the field you have chosen. This is a chance to develop a parallel set of experiences. What skills will be required? Have you ever used such skills? Where? This might not be paid work. Have you operated as a volunteer? What challenges have been presented to you and how did you meet them? At school? At camp? In the Army? In previous work situations? In short, how is your "expertise" tranferable to this ssituation?

Your task is to create alternative situations where you can demonstrate that the skills needed are similar to ones you have utilized in the past. Your object is to encourage in your listener the concept of "transferable skills." Where have you used your talent in a way that is similar to the requirements you will be facing in the proposed job? Obviously, to do this convincingly, you must be fluent in the language of the industry, have rehearsed your skills so that you are prepared to demonstrate why and how they are similar to the ones that are needed, and be comfortable with your information so you can focus on creating a connection to the person you are addressing.

When you do decide on your target perfect industry, your niche within that industry, the company in which you'd like to work and how you are a resource, your next task is to target the person with the ability to actually hire you. He/she is the person to talk with.

Avoid HR departments if your skills require interpretation. The job of HR departments is to find people whose paper credits match up to the job description. Finding the person who can hire you may require persistence, courtship, and imagination. You may have met them at some time in your informational rounds. If so, you have their card and can propose another meeting based on your first, being clear that you are now ready to propose a work relationship. If that is not the case, your task will be to find someone whose name can be a link ("Mrs. Jones suggested I contact you as she thought my ideas might be a resource for you"). Hopefully, Mrs. Jones will be willing to make a pre-call to establish that, indeed, she is recommending this meeting.

But if there is no personal link, all is not lost. A letter suggesting in some detail your ideas and resources may be a door opener. If this is what you want, and the fit makes sense -- at least to you -- the chances are you will find a way to present yourself in a positive light.

Finally, it is important to remember that luck is a factor, but luck always favors the prepared mind!
About the Author
John Trauth is co-author of "Your Retirement, Your Way" (McGraw-Hill, 2007), a step-by-step curriculum which explains the secrets for happiness in retirement and helps readers prepare for the psychological, strategic and financial aspects of this major life transition. Learn more about this book and take the free "retirement readiness quiz" at http://www.YourRetirementYourWay.com.
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