Developing Your Career

Career

Nearing Retirement? Get Ready for Your Encore Career

By Lee Hecht Harrison on March 10, 2015

Are you nearing retirement? Many retired workers are re-entering the workforce to begin a “second chapter” or “encore” career that offers mental challenge, financial security and social connection. In roles such as consultants, entrepreneurs or part-time experts, many of these mature workers are enjoying a renewed sense of purpose and rewarding new experiences.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Looking for a Second Career? Try Before You Buy, author Marc Freedman offers advice for job seekers over 55. As CEO and founder of Encore.org, a nonprofit organization working to promote encore careers (“second acts for the greater good”), Friedman understands the challenges many senior job seekers face: “It’s hard to make any connections or have new experiences—both essential to transitions in work and life—without leaving the confines of one’s imagination, or home.”

Luckily, a reinvigorated job market has opened up more opportunities for mature workers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the national unemployment rate for people over 55 dropped from 5.1% in December 2013 to 3.9% at the end of 2014. The unemployment rate for women is even better, dipping from 4.9% in December 2013 to 3.6% last month, lower than the drop for men over the same period (5.3% to 4.2%).

If you’re considering an encore career after retirement, a little preparation can help you get off to a productive start:

  • Begin with your current employer.  If you’re planning to retire, but want to supplement your income and stay connected, consider a part-time job. Start with your current employer to see if you could continue working part-time or on a contract basis once you’ve officially retired. This gives your employer the advantage of tapping into your knowledge and expertise during peak or transitional periods and offers you the opportunity of working within your area of expertise.
  • Add value by volunteering. Pro bono work can be satisfying and provide the social interaction that many retirees desire. Volunteering can also lead to a paid gig or enhance your skill set and prepare you to shift into another direction. Check with community groups, the UnitedWay.org or websites such as Idealist.org that offer worldwide volunteer opportunities as well as salaried positions in the non-profit sector.
  • Try the temporary pool. Check with a staffing company such as Adecco for full-time or part-time temporary positions. Retirementjobs.com provides advice and job postings for workers over 50, and AARP.com has information on the most in-demand part-time opportunities for seniors.
  • Go out on your own. If you’re contemplating work as a self-employed independent contractor, prepare before making the leap. Take a few accounting and marketing classes for small businesses and meet with your tax preparer to understand the record-keeping and tax implications of freelance work. Then visit sites such as Elance.com for opportunities or ideas.

Today’s retirement looks very different from that of years’ past. If you’re anticipating an encore career after your official retirement, evaluate your options and start laying the groundwork for a seamless transition to the next chapter that will bring fulfillment, satisfaction and meaning.

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