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Working past retirement age: some pointers

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What if you’re nearing retirement age and can’t stand the thought of leaving the workforce? What are your choices?

Kerry Hannon, author of “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work that Keeps You Happy and Healthy . . . and Pays the Bills,” is on a mission to help people find fulfilling retirement employment. I invited Hannon, who writes the “Great Jobs for Retirees” column for AARP, to join me for an online discussion. I wasn’t surprised that the hourlong chat didn’t give her nearly enough time to answer all the questions that poured in. So she offered to answer some offline.

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Q: I’m 55 and have been in sales management my entire career at large consumer product companies. I’ve been searching for a new position but feel I’m being discriminated against because of age. Are there part-time sales positions where I could utilize my skills but not work 40-plus hours? I don’t want to work retail.

Hannon: Independent contracting is one solution. Just in the past year, the independent workforce has grown to 16.9 million from 16 million, according to research by Herndon, Va.-based MBO Partners. Forty percent of those contractors are 50 and older, and 10 percent are over 65.

According to Reuters: “Employers are getting more interested in contract workers, and only partly because of a reluctance to make full-time commitments. A survey [last year] by the Society for Human Resources and AARP showed more than seven in 10 US employers were concerned about the loss of talented older workers and that 30 percent were hiring retirees as consultants or for part-time jobs.”

Check out job boards at business associations and small businesses for postings looking for someone on a flexible basis. There are also a growing number of temporary agencies, such as Flexforce Professionals, Momentum Resources, or Experis.

Q: I am over 50 and was laid off last year. Are there really good job-hunting websites for people over 50?

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Hannon: Try Workforce50.com, which offers employment and career resources. AARP.org/work has a list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. RetiredBrains.com and Retirementjobs.com are sites also geared toward over-50 job seekers. RetireeWorkforce.com provides job postings and resume services, plus a database with flexible, seasonal, and full-time positions.

Q: Do you think people should retire?

Hannon: It’s great to keep working for lots of reasons — the mental engagement and, for many of us, the income boost. Working for income provides a safety net, and in today’s work environment there are plenty of opportunities for flexible hours and schedules, part-time and seasonal jobs. But often health issues get in the way. The will may be there, but the body doesn’t cooperate.

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I agree with Hannon. As she writes in her book, if you’re in good health, you should consider working as part of your retirement plan.

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