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How to Prepare for Working Past Retirement

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Work It Out

Setting aside enough money for retirement is no easy task, particularly amid a pandemic and a recession. If current events are impacting your retirement savings or you were behind to begin with, you may need to work longer, possibly well into retirement years. It's a reality faced by a growing number of Americans. A November survey conducted by retirement savings platform SimplyWise found that 74% of U.S. workers now intend to work in retirement, up from 65% when the survey was last conducted in May. The same survey found that 19% of people in their 50s plan to work full-time in retirement, more than double the 8% who expressed similar sentiments in May. If working past retirement age is in your future, it's important to lay the proper groundwork. Here's how to do that.

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Write It Down

Have a Clear Plan of Action

Some of us will need to work during retirement in order to earn more money, while others will need to maintain benefits. Whatever the driving reason is, be sure you're clear about what you need to accomplish by continuing to work and outline a plan to achieve that. "The ultimate goal is to work for exactly the benefit needed," says Brian Halbert, financial advisor for WD Pensionmark. "For example, if you need $500 per week, hit just enough hours for $500. Or if, you need to work 20 hours per week to be eligible for benefits, then plan to work 20 hours. For those that have monetary or benefit needs, the key is to understand what it takes first, and then accomplish that."

Related: 15 Smart Tips to Jump-Start Your Retirement Planning in the New Year

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Step-Up Networking Efforts

If you're planning to work longer in life, become an expert networker now and raise your professional profile, says career counselor and coach Lynn Berger. "Enhance your networking opportunities through professional associations and LinkedIn groups," she says. "Become active and attend meetings, lectures, and conferences in your targeted field." All of these efforts will help you network in a more relaxed and natural manner, says Berger, ideally creating career opportunities for as long as you need and want them.

Related: 22 Things to Do Now to Land a Job in a Recession

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Stay Up With Industry Trends

With industries constantly evolving and many regularly incorporating new technology into operations, staying abreast of these changes will help you remain employable longer, says Cassie Pipp, creator of the financial website Living Low Key. "If workers are staying up to date on the trends, that's going to make it easier for them to keep pace with the work environment," she says.

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Position Yourself As a Consultant

If you've worked until retirement age in a particular field, you likely have more than collected the 10,000 hours that make someone an expert in their field, says Julie Titterington, chief culture officer for the small business website MerchantMaverick."Why start a new career when you can leverage your previous experience to your advantage?" says Titterington, who suggests setting yourself up to be a consultant as you grow older. You'll want to do the leg work in advance, which includes becoming active on LinkedIn. "Most successful independent consultants rely on their existing networks when they're getting started, so the larger your LinkedIn network, the better your chances of landing a few clients right out of the gate."

Related: 15 Best Work-From-Home Jobs for Retirees

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Meet With a Financial Advisor

If your purpose for working beyond retirement is squirreling away more money, then you'll want to be strategic about next steps, says Titterington of MerchantMaverick. "Meet with a financial consultant now. Meet with them yesterday. You may find, after consulting an expert, that you actually have more financial options than you think you do, simply by retrenching on a few expenses now or investing in a higher yield account." If you do determine that you need a continuing income to make ends meet, a financial advisor can identify the amount you need to make in specific dollars and cents. "Knowing exactly how much you need to bring in every month will inform your career choices, and may determine whether you decide to apply for another W2 employment situation or can afford to go out on your own as a consultant," she says.

Related: How to Salvage Your Finances During Economic Uncertainty

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Do Some Soul Searching

If working beyond retirement is definitely in the cards, consider making a slight career shift to a job or line of work that will be more sustainable and manageable  over the long-term as you age, says Grant Aldrich, Founder and CEO of OnlineDegree. "I recommend finding a job you'd love to do," he says. "Have you always dreamed of working in a national park or teaching English? Do some soul-searching and pinpoint your dream job."

Related: 20 Secret Tips to Get Your Dream Job

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Pursue Necessary Certifications

If switching careers is something you intend to do in order to continue working after retirement, it's a good idea to research the qualifications and certifications you may need for that dream job or promotion, says Aldrich of OnlineDegree. "You can be proactive by taking free online courses or getting a certificate online," he says.

Related: 24 Job-Hunting Tips for Workers Over 50

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Keep Your Resume Updated

A well-written and professional-looking resume is a key tool at any stage in life. But as you age, you'll need to pay even more attention to how your professional history is presented and how your resume looks, says Aldrich of OnlineDegree. "Try to make your resume look more modern using a free design tool like Canva. And don't use overly long timelines for your experience, such as 40-plus years, when 20-plus years also makes you look like an expert," he says.

Related:  45 Job Search Tips From Experts

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Stay Physically and Mentally Active

Working longer is obviously easier said than done because our bodies are not the same as we age, says Tom Winter, lead tech recruitment advisor and co-founder of DevSkiller, a developer screening and online interview platform. "It's important to stay physically and mentally healthy," he says. "Even though you may not be working on a construction site, you'd still need to be in good shape, even if it's a work from home job. Do daily walks, keep a balanced diet, and visit your doctor for routine checkouts." As for maintaining mental health, keep in touch with loved ones and try to engage regularly in activities that bring you joy, whether it's a trip to the beach or walking your dog, says Winter.

Related:  The Best Workouts for Staying in Shape Past 50

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Talk With Your Current Employer

Don't overlook remaining at your current workplace as you age. Start having conversations with your employer now about what the long-term possibilities might be, suggests Mark Silverman, CEO of Amava, a website designed to connect retirees and empty-nesters with opportunities. "The conversation with your employer can be anything from full-steam ahead, to changes in title, step-downs in responsibilities, or changes to schedule and pay," he says. "It costs employers to lose experienced employees and institutional knowledge and many of them realize the value of experienced employees. Before you assume that you're going to be phased out, proactively consider how to maintain your current situation if it still works for you."

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Be Positive

Working longer than you expected is not all bad, says Silverman of Amava. "Consider the reasons why continuing to work might be healthy or beneficial for you," he says. "Maybe your relationships at work are an important part of your life, or perhaps the benefits and perks of your job are too good to give up. Given the times, you might be able to relocate to someplace more affordable and work remotely, keeping your income."

Related: How to Cope With COVID-19, Job Loss, and Other Traumas

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Have a Specific Timeline in Mind

No matter how much you love your job, nobody wants to work until they fall over, says Halbert of WD Pensionmark. Give yourself a target or a finish line to set your sights on. "This will be different for everyone. For most people it will be about the money, or a specific money goal," he says. "For others, it will just feel right. I suggest that people need to be comfortable with their finances, and have a clear path and plan for finances throughout their retirement."

Related: How Many Seniors Still Work Past Retirement Age in Every State