(In photo: Steph Brown)
Increasingly in this post-lockdown society, many of us are realising life’s too short to spend most of it at work. Sharing time with loved ones, looking after our mental wellbeing and enjoying our hobbies have all taken on greater importance as we mature in years and seek true fulfilment.
And while we can’t all afford to retire at 50, there’s a perfect compromise to be found in the world of part-time work. A vast range of jobs from painting and gardening to tutoring and childcare can earn you a bit of money on the side to pay the bills and keep you active without the burden and burnout of a 40-hour working week.
You might not find all these opportunities on the Bermuda Job Board, but Mercedes Pringle-DeSilva, executive director at Age Concern Bermuda, said you don’t have to look too hard to spot them:
“Childcare is an easy one,” she said. “You have a lot of grandparents and aunties who do that before the age of 50 anyway and just carry on. It shouldn’t be a free service. It can be a hard job, especially if you look after more than one child. But, you already have that built-in trust and it also gives you the chance to spend time with the little ones, which all of us enjoy.”
Many older people turn to gardening as a rewarding pastime in their later years – but why not make some money out of it? “You could do a neighbourhood garden and get paid for your services by your neighbours,” Ms Pringle-DeSilva said. “That’s being creative. You have to be comfortable asking your neighbours to pay you, but that’s what a lot of people are doing.”
Being creative and bold, indeed, is the key to finding flexible work.
“Freelance work is still out there,” Ms Pringle-DeSilva said. “It’s about social connection. If you’re a photographer, even for fun, you can still link up with places like hotels who have the interests of the job you want to do. You’ve got to be willing to be get out there and ask; go to those events where that’s going to be a thing.”
Seniors have also tried their hand at part-time work that involves learning new skills, such as security work and dog-walking. Others seek to cash in on their vast experience, such as retired teachers who become tutors, and former lawyers who take on consultancy work: “Passing on that institutional knowledge is necessary,” Ms Pringle-DeSilva said.
Steph Brown, a recruitment partner at the Bermudian company, O My Word, said jobseekers of all ages are looking for more flexibility since the Covid-19 pandemic: “People have woken up to how short life is,” Ms Brown said. “They no longer want to work in toxic environments or 60 hours a week. They value their time with loved ones much more. Plus, companies are now offering more flexible working environments to compete for talent and this is attracting candidates to move around.”
Salary is a critical factor in choosing our career path when we’re young, but our needs change as we make our journey through life.
Ms Brown explained: “Once you get older and can choose more about where you spend seven hours a day, it’s certainly good to take a break and explore all of the thousands of career paths and opportunities available. We start to choose fulfilment over things like fancy offices, free lunches, job titles and large salaries. Working long hours and not having time or energy for other things eventually takes its toll and people pull back and find the balance.
“Our bodies need more care as we age, and we need less stress and more rest. Finding a fulfilling job where you can balance your home life too is the golden ticket – and many people are now winning in that raffle!”
What about those people who have spent much of their adult lives looking after their children and now want to return to the workforce at an older age?
“It isn’t as hard as it sometimes seems,” Ms Brown said. “I would recommend targeting smaller employers and speaking to people at these organisations who work in the same area. Not a lot of part-time roles get advertised and, when they do, the world and his wife will apply. So, jobseekers need to focus on actively contacting companies who are making money, have a good reputation and who may need someone with your skillset.”
You should also be strategic with your applications, be proactive with tools such as LinkedIn and avoid waiting for the perfect role to come up. You have to show the company what the value is by hiring you,” Ms Brown said. “Being clear in your resume on how your skills, experience and qualifications will benefit that company is essential in creating opportunities.”
If you can’t find an employer, you could start your own company so you can make money doing something you love, or try volunteering. “I have seen volunteer jobs turn into paid ones,” Ms Brown said. “Working for free is a way of being interviewed and impressing people who may have other jobs for you or know people who can use your skills.”
And, while it’s still an employer-driven market, Ms Brown predicted a bright future for workers: “We are seeing a shift from the norm and more people are quitting or moving jobs and trying new things because they are not scared anymore,” she said. “Being in your 40s and working full-time most of your life is a little like being institutionalised. It’s all you’ve ever known so it can feel scary to quit and go part-time.
“You’re not used to the extra time in the day, and it takes a good while to adjust, but if you can make it work financially I’d recommend anyone to take the leap and enjoy their home life more now than waiting wait until retirement when they might not be healthy enough to appreciate it as much.”