Gotta Love the Feds…

In several articles I have mentioned that one of the largest employers of part-year workers is the federal government.   This may also be true of state governments, but I haven’t gotten that far with my research.   There are numerous books and websites that can help you with the nuances of actually GETTING these jobs – but here is how you FIND them.

Step One

All positions are posted via the central clearing house website

Step Two

You may enter specific location or keywords right on the front page, but I suggest you simply click “Search Jobs” first. This will bring you to a second screen where you may select a job type.


Have some fun here searching a variety of ways.  You can be very targeted by selecting just one job type at a time, or you can go very broad to see not only what types are out there, but where the positions are located.

You must also enter something in the “keyword” field.  For this example I simply chose the word “temporary.”

Step Three

Have some fun searching different ways to see what you find.  In the photo below I searched the keyword “temporary,” and also set the job type to Seasonal and Temporary.


Notice that each position shows a pay range, a location (sometimes multiple – click on that link to see where), and additional details including the last one on the right that states who may apply.

Clicking on the job description gets you PAGES of details about qualifications, requirements, etc.

Next week I will provide you with what I can find about the application and selection process.

Go have some fun – see anything that sounds perfect for you?


Do You HAVE to Choose Just One Thing?

Sometimes it’s difficult to get our hands and heads around what it is we really want.   Maybe we want to do many things and they conflict.  Often, we just can’t see a path to any of them.

I once consulted with a gal who wanted to own a retail knitting shop and also travel the world.  She couldn’t imagine trying to leave a retail location for three to four months a year to travel.

So, she wasn’t following EITHER dream.  She was selling cellular phones.

Rather than creating a decision tree to try to choose which one she wanted MORE, I suggested we look at what these two things represented to her.  Was there any commonality in these two vastly different dreams?

The store represented a haven in many ways.  She had a vision to create a place where women would come and knit and socialize and decompress.    It was an artistic yearning – the act of creating using color, and textile, and her hands.  It also allowed her to teach, which she loved.

Travel is one of those common goals that many people share.  And it generally represents learning, freedom, and breaking out of a rut.  Changing place tends to change the mind.  For this client, it represented learning, and finding new communities of both space and spirit.

And there was the shared dream:  Learning, Teaching, and Community.

Could these two desires be blended to fill her needs?

We brainstormed for an hour and came up with a basic model for a traveling knitting store.   She would utilize art festivals, and women’s expos to have a booth where women could not only shop for fabulous yarn, but also sit and knit and share fellowship.  Her revenue would come from selling yarn, but also providing knitting instruction, and an hourly “sitting” fee for hanging out in the booth and knitting.   Eventually there would be a community of knitters all over the country, maybe even having online knits and an annual knit-in.

Meanwhile, she’d spent a week to ten days in each place exploring, writing, and offering classes.  Her income would come from selling products, writing, and teaching.


Do you have more than one thing you would like to do and can’t figure out how to combine them?  Is there a way to do this on a part-year basis so that you can semi-retire?

Oh, and what happened to the gal above?   I’ll tell the rest of the story in next week’s Saturday Morning Post.



Considering Self-Employment in Semi-Retirement

Without a doubt, if you are considering a semi-retired life with income above a pension, social security, or IRAs, you have probably wondered about starting your own business versus working for someone else.

The challenge is creating a business that you can walk away from for two to four months at a time.

Take opening a retail establishment for example. Many businesses are just going through the motions by staying open in January and February. It’s not at all uncommon for restaurants in tourist areas to simply close down in the off season. This would be hard to pull-off, however, if your customers are quilters or scrapbookers who want product year round. You have to consider your fixed costs, maintenance, and lost market “presence” in deciding if this will work for you.

Another option would be something like a lawn service or snow blowing.   Work long hard hours during the appropriate months, and close it down during the off months.   The trick here is to maintain a relationship with your clients during the off-season so you can sign them up again the next year. Some ways to do this would be to provide helpful suggestions via a monthly newsletter, or offering them early-bird or returning customer sign up specials.

Another option many people consider is some type of Direct Selling, such as nutritional products, or retail-oriented such as clothing or jewelry.   This option is a bit different because most companies require you to produce a minimum level of sales every month in order to qualify for commissions, bonuses, and team overrides.   And if you simply disappear for several months, so will your team and your income.     Thoroughly understanding your compensation plan is critical.

So, if self-employment is an avenue that you would like to consider in semi-retirement, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of business? Retail, Direct Sales, Coaching, Other Services?  Then:
  •                 Where and who are your customers?
  •                 How do they get your product or service?
  •                 When or how often do they purchase/use/need it?
  •                 How are you going to acquire them?
  •                 How are you going to retain them?
  •                 What happens to them while you are off gallivanting?
  • Do you want two to four months completely AWAY from it? Or are you just looking for something portable that you can do from anywhere. (The latter is a completely different discussion and would not be considered semi-retired!)
  • Are you the product, or providing a service as a result of your individual skills?  If so, is your physical presence required to do the work?

After you have played with these questions for a bit, what jumps out at you as a possibility that might work for you?


How to Start Planning for Semi-Retirement

In a previous article, I outlined the three types of semi-retirement:  Something-to-Do, Supplemental Income, and Supporting Yourself.   Regardless of which model fits, you will need a plan to make part-year employment work for you.

Step One

Decide which model you are, or you want to be.  If you would rather Supplement, but right now you would be a Support Yourself, take a hard look at your lifestyle and finances and identify what would you need to change in order to make that happen?

Step Two

Make a list of everything you know how to do well.   Include hobbies and interests.   Play violin?  Write it down.  Gardening? Scrapbooking?  Type 90 wpm?  Write it down.  Write down skills you have developed at traditional jobs such as organizing, particular software knowledge, or drawing blood.

Also, write down skills that were not a job requirement but you have acquired nonetheless.   Have you worked in an environment where you were stuck between co-workers who disliked each other?  Write down mediation as a skill.   Have you ever hired a babysitter or nanny?  That’s a skill.  Clean driving record?  That’s a skill.

The trick here is not to write down things you truly hate doing, unless you are willing to do them to make this lifestyle change happen for you.

Also, when you start your list, aim for twenty items.  Then walk away, but leave the list open.  Over the next few hours and days you will inevitably think of things to add.

Step Three

Now, start doing a job search.  Use the skills or knowledge you have identified for keyword searches at online sites.   Don’t restrict yourself at all in terms of geography, or whether or not the position is presently full-time.

You aren’t looking for a position at this time, you are looking for information.

What kinds of jobs out there are seeking skills you possess?  Try to make a list of ten to twenty jobs that you would never have considered before.   Like to drive with a good record?  You might be a perfect long-haul truck driver.  Don’t laugh…it’s great income and can be done part-year.    Good at math or adept with computers?  Consider part-year work doing tax preparation for a private accountant or national company.      How about substitute teaching?

Step Four

Make another list.  This time start marrying positions that have any interest for you whatsoever, with skills that you possess.    Aim for ten specific jobs, or ten types of jobs, that you could or would do for eight to ten months a year.

Now you have a place to start planning using skills or knowledge you already have.


Nine Questions to Help Build a Bridge to a Semi-Retired Career

Invariably, when I speak with people of a “certain” age, generally 50+, about the concept of semi-retirement, they LOVE the idea.

And, it has never occurred to them before.

The culture of the sixties and seventies, when Boomers came of age, oriented toward a very traditional work/life agreement.

Pick a job. Do it your whole life. Retire.

While this worked well for the older portion of that generation, as well as previous ones,  it has faltered a great deal for the more junior Boomers.  As a result, more and more people expect to have to work in some capacity well into their sixties and even seventies.

Why not create a NEW model that combines working with greater blocks of time off to enjoy life?

For many, the challenge is how to get from where they are now to where they want to be.   The first step is to identify the obstacles and the stepping stones for each individual.  These nine questions should help you get started and begin to shine a light on your path to a better work/life agreement.

Grab a blank sheet of notebook paper and jot down your initial answers.   Try not to over think – this is about what you WANT your life to look like.   We will work on the HOW next.

  • Do you want to work the same job for nine or ten months?
  • Or, do you want to do project type jobs, perhaps a quarter at a time?
  • Do you want to do the same job/jobs every year?
  • Do you want to work where you live now? Or, is there a specific place you want to be?
  • Do you want to combine work and travel?
  • Do you want/need steady reliable income?  Or could you work in bursts, stowing away a large payout and then living off that?
  • Do you have any physical limitations?
  • Do you have obligations of time or money you have to work around?  What are they?
  • What changes do you need to make to work toward this goal? Pay off debts?  Give away or sell belongings?  Get children grown and launched?  Take a class or obtain a certification?

At first, these questions seem very simple.   To an extent, they are.   The single biggest factor in deciding to live a semi-retired life is deciding to DO it.   After that, it’s a matter of setting your own boundaries, and the options are really limitless once you let yourself examine them.  And questions tend to beget questions.

Answering them should help create a framework for avenues to pursue.     The first step is the scariest – take it anyway!


Facing My Fear

On the path to The Semi-Retired Life, one of the biggest obstacles I am facing is the fear of the unknown and the presence of risk.

Does fear ever stop you from going after what you REALLY want?

I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this.    In the interest of transparency, and because if I ‘fess up maybe it will help someone else, I’m going to share.   Specifically related to my plans to retire from my job in two to three years are the following FEARS:

  1. The economy goes to hell (worse hell) and whatever job I’ve found goes away.   Meanwhile, I walked away from a job where my seniority would have protected me at least for a while.
  2. Health Insurance.   This is a huge problem.  Obamacare is not the friend of people who have good workplace coverage.  The cost is much higher and the coverage much worse.  The prospect of stepping out of the cocoon of good health insurance into that morass is terrifying.
  3. My promised retirement travel privileges collapse – for whatever reason.
  4. I miss it (VERY hard for me to imagine right now) and regret leaving.
  5. I find being home all the time much harder than I expected.  (I’ve been traveling for work for ten years.  Being home all the time, even with a job, will be an adjustment for all of us.)
  6. I can’t find another job and can’t retire after all.  (I have a pretty good record of finding employment.  But, I will be 55.  Is this going to be a problem?)

So there they are in all their glory and brutal honesty.  Voicing them publicly is my way of firing a warning shot.  Game ON, fears…I’m coming after you.

What FEARS are keeping you from what you really want?

(*A note about the photo…I am notoriously prone to vertigo.  My husband couldn’t believe I would even walk out onto that little suspension bridge, but I did.  He held the camera over my head to get the shot to prove it!)



Three Job or Career Models for The Semi-Retired Life

Are you fifty or older and really wish you could get two to four months a year completely off from work?   Begin by identifying which of the three work models fits you best.

The Something to Do Model

This model is for those of you who have whatever amount of retirement income or assets that you consider to be “enough.”  You do not really need to work for the income, but you do really need something to do.  However, you don’t want to commit yourself to year around work, and volunteering just doesn’t meet your need to be productive.

Congratulations!  You can choose whatever combination of working and time off you like.  Why not try the things you always wanted to do, but couldn’t because of work?  Teach English abroad for a few months, then sell art on a cruise ship.  Spend your summers in the U.S. and winters down-under.  You have lots of choices.

The Supplement Model

This model is for people who have some assets and/or retirement income, but are concerned it’s not enough to last their lifetime, or not enough to enjoy their activities and interests.   Bottom line, in order to take two to four months work free each year, some additional money needs to come into the coffers.

This still gives you a great deal of freedom in your choice of working options, and also the ability to do something different every year.

Additionally, you can work with a financial expert to see where you could downsize or cut expenses.

The Support Yourself Model

This model is for the person who is perhaps too young to access retirement accounts or collect social security.  This is also the model for those who simply did not have the ability, for whatever reasons, to save for retirement, but still want to get at least a couple months a year free from work to enjoy life.

Besides the obvious choice of primary or secondary school teaching, which just isn’t for everyone, there are ways to earn a twelve-month income in eight to ten months.

The best way to do this is to perform independent contract work or temporary work in a field where you have experience or credentials.   The federal government, for example, sometimes hires workers into temporary positions that pay high five or low six figures.  Many industries have a constant need for subject matter or project management personnel for limited time periods.

Finally, talk to your previous employer.  You would be surprised how often you can get your old job back on a contract basis at twice the pay, without benefits.




Part-Year Work Options – Temporary versus Seasonal

Are you considering joining the semi-retired lifestyle of working part of each year, and taking the remaining months off to pursue your interests or passions?  If so, and you are seeking employment during your working months, knowing the differences and similarities between seasonal and temporary positions can be important.


Most people think of seasonal employment as it relates to either tourism or to the Fall retail season.   Without a doubt, summer in the the United States is a seasonal hiring opportunity throughout the country.  In fact, demand is so high in some areas that employers offer additional job perks such as housing or transportation allowances.

You can find summer jobs doing everything from camp counseling to cooking to driving a tour bus to house-sitting for families spending the summer away.     Many of these same positions exist during winter season in ski areas.  Or, in the southern  hemisphere during North America’s winter months.

The Fall selling season is also an opportunity to capitalize on retail positions, as well as those in delivery and shipping.

Because these employers have need of increased staffing every year during their “high” season, many offer bonuses or additional benefits to employees who return year after year.    Occasionally, positions offer benefits all year.

One of the largest employers of seasonal positions is the federal government.   While you might expect to see seasonal positions at the IRS, you might be surprised to learn that they exist at many other agencies such as the Forestry Service as well.    And not all the positions are for an hourly wage. Some require very specific education and experience, but pay salaries in the high five figures  for six to eight months of work!  Google “federal jobs” to find the central employment website, and then check the button for seasonal jobs to see what is currently available.


With both the federal government and private employers, the term “temporary” usually means the position is for a designated period of time and no guarantees are provided beyond that.   Sadly, these positions frequently do not offer additional benefits such as health insurance.

While this can be a negative if you are seeking a regular “gig” year after year, it can be an excellent opportunity to try something that you are not sure you want to commit to long-term.  It is also a great way to both gain and have different experiences for your resume.

And, many temporary positions can lead to full-time if that is where your interest lies.


Three Industries Offering Part-Year Employment

Part-year, or more commonly known as seasonal employment,  has been a staple of these industries for years.  For many this is a lifestyle that blends long hours and hard work for a group of months, with a corresponding break of time off once the shoulder, or off-season, begins.  This article touches on just a few of the employment positions available in these industries.

Tourism and Travel

This is the one that most people think of when they hear the term “seasonal” work.   In North America, there are numerous locations that have a high season where the influx of visitors demands a corresponding increase in workers to serve them in many capacities.   With most schools out during the summer months, opportunities abound.

Since several of these areas have two high seasons – one in Winter and then again in Summer, employers from resorts, to touring companies, to airports, to the traditional restaurants and bars, offer employment for both seasons, with six to eight week breaks in between.

Examples of positions include: Hotel and restaurant serving, cleaning, and front office, tour guides, tour bus drivers, cruise ship staff and management, trainers, event managers, adventure guides, airline ground handling, and local information experts.


If the only inevitable things are death and taxes, then the only inevitable seasonal job is tax preparation.   Many Certified Public Accountants who do primarily tax returns only work through September.  If you have not done your taxes by then, they might not want you for a client!

These accountants frequently need support staff for detail work.  Large national tax preparers also hire extensively during tax season to staff tax prep locations that are only open part of each year.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service also hires temporary workers nationwide during tax season to do everything from data entry, to phone support, to actual tax calculations and return reviews.


Many facets of the practice of medicine also offer temporary, seasonal, or traveling options.   Once again, cruise ships are often staffed with a doctor and a nurse.  Public primary and secondary schools still offer an  onsite nurse in some areas.

Of more interest may be the traveling positions, where the nurse, physical therapist, doctor, or other practitioner works at a given location for several weeks or months, takes off as long as they wish, then accepts another temporary position in a different location.  These positions often include room and board, and traveling expenses.

There are actually many more positions out there for temporary workers, even in these fields.  To keep abreast of the opportunities, please visit the blog The Semi-Retired Life.


Can You Semi-Retire Using a Leave of Absence?

So, you are learning about the concept of “semi-retiring” and you love the idea of continuing to work, but only doing it for eight or nine months a year.

If you have hesitations about leaving your current employment completely, one excellent option you may have available to you is a formal Leave of Absence (LOA).  Here are some questions to ask and information to gather from your Human Resources or People department about this option.

Does Your Company Offer LOAs?

Some companies even require employees to take a leave periodically.  Chances are if you are lucky enough to work for one of these, you already know about that.  But if you have never considered it, then start researching internally to see what is available.

If So, Are They Paid or Unpaid?

Unless you are very lucky, chances are the leave will be unpaid.  You might expect this, but it does trigger a new avalanche of questions about what else might be affected.

What is Your Return-to-Work Status?

For example, one really important question to thoroughly understand is what constraints or situations affect your return-to-work.   Is your job held for you?  Indefinitely, or for a specific period of time?   Does there have to be an opening that you can fill?

Are There Limitations  to What You Can Do During the Leave?

My company does not allow employees to work while on a personal leave without specific written permission from a supervisor.  This could impact you if the goal of the leave is to test out running your own business.  Be sure you know any limitations or restrictions.

What Happens to Your Benefits?

If you, like many, receive your health insurance through your employer, what happens to it during your leave?  Do you keep the coverage, but have to pick up the entire cost?  This can cause some sticker shock as the full cost is often four times what is being withheld from the paycheck while working full-time.

Are there any other benefits that sunset while on a leave, such as discounts with your wireless vendor, or to the gym you use?  In my case, my travel privileges are suspended during a personal LOA.  And, that is the very thing I want the time off to use.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you are in a much better position to see if you can test-drive a short retirement period to see if it might work for you.


Over Fifty And Two or Three Weeks Vacation Isn't Cutting It Anymore? What If You Could Get Two or Three MONTHS Off Every Year?