If you’re like many of us today, you’re not necessarily envisioning a life fully retired from the workforce after your current career winds down. Not only do a growing number of people want to continue to earn an income after they step down from their current roles, but they also want to pursue work that is professionally and personally fulfilling while also allowing for greater flexibility. To start planning your move toward a career that offers you this winning combination, take a look at our tips below, along with helpful resources and tools to help you make a successful transition:
Look where there is a need: With areas such as healthcare, education and the federal government facing a shortfall in qualified professionals, baby boomers and other retirees with transferable skills gained through decades of experience can provide a viable solution to fill these gaps. The human-resource strapped nonprofit sector also has a growing need for those with a strong leadership and management background. For more insight into fields with a high demand for talent, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Access helpful resources online: It’s encouraging to find that there are plenty of organizations with online tools to help those who are retiring from a midlife career and want to investigate other professional opportunities. Just a few of these include encore.org, SeniorJobBank and Retired Brains. The Bridgespan Group, Idealist and VolunteerMatch are excellent places to turn for those who are interested in working in the nonprofit sphere. If you’re seeking a board position, boardnetUSA can help match you with potential opportunities to serve. And if you’d like to launch a business, resources such as SCORE and the SBA’s 50+ Entrepreneur’s guide can help connect you with mentors in the industry.
Consider an occupation in a field that’s similar to yours: If money is a top consideration for your post-midlife plans, you may want to think about working in an area that is related to your current business or profession. This way, you can leverage your experience, contacts and stature in the field to earn more money. One example of this is a person employed in law enforcement who can bring much of the requisite skills and background to a position such as an insurance fraud investigator. Another is a person who retires as an employee in one field but finds work in this same area as a consultant.
Get the training and education you need: In many cases, it will take a few years to transition to a second career, so it’s best to start preparing early. Research what, if any, further academic training you’ll need and consider looking into local community colleges for certifications or continuing education classes. To get hands-on experience and start networking in the field in which you’re interested, start volunteering in this area and/or look for opportunities to serve on boards. Also look into fellowship or internship programs or consider moonlighting to get practical experience in the field—and to ensure that it’s a true fit for you.
Use tax breaks, financial aid and tuition reimbursement: If additional schooling will be necessary for you to embark on your new career, find out if you are eligible for tax credits such as The Lifetime Learning Credit, worth up to $2,000 per year, or for the annual $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit. You may also want to look into scholarships for older students through websites such as Fastweb and StudentScholarshipSearch. Also keep in mind that federal financial aid including the Stafford and Plus loans may be available to you as a professional. Does your employer offer tuition reimbursement? It’s a good idea to take advantage of this while you can.
Work your networks: Finally, keep in mind that just as networking may have played a major role in your job search when you were just starting out, it’s just as important—if not more—for you as someone making a late-career transition. Take colleagues up on invitations to meet people who work in a field you’re investigating, and consider attending conferences and other industry events where you can cross paths with influencers. And of course, don’t overlook the power of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.