How To Prep For An Encore Career

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Nearly 80% of current workers say they expect to work for pay in retirement, yet less than 30% of current retirees have done so, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Don’t let that gap discourage you. Almost all of those who say they worked for pay in retirement cite a positive reason--wanting to stay active and involved, or for enjoyment. There are steps you can take before retiring from your primary job to increase your chances of having a fulfilling encore career.

“It could be your income comes from one type of work and you volunteer, or you find a paying job that actually delivers both—pay and social impact—in one package, like a job in healthcare or a mission-focused organization,” says Marci Alboher, vice president at Encore.org, and author of The Encore Career Handbook. Encore.org works to normalize the idea of encore careers, tapping the talents of those 50-plus as a force for good.

Network. Reach beyond current coworkers and old friends to distant or casual acquaintances, and think inter-generationally. Maybe one of your kids’ college pals is starting a new business where your experience could come in handy part-time. Update your LinkedIn profile.

Volunteer.  Volunteering not only expands your contacts, but gives you a look at paid jobs in the not- for-profit world. Find charities that need your help through volunteermatch.org, allforgood.org and createthegood.org. If you’re interested in building experience working with youth, check out opportunities at Generation To Generation. Encore.org launched Generation to Generation last year to engage 50-plus folks in their communities (virtual and in-person). “We know the skills of people with life experience are useful for young people, and it’s an area that older people want to apply their skills to,” says Alboher.

Go back to school. Once you’ve decided on an encore career, take night courses to fill in gaps in your experience and, if needed, update your computer skills. Be sure to ask if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. There are even special programs to prepare business veterans to work for not-for profits. Check out the University of Minnesota’s Encore Adulthood program and the Encore Transition Program at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary.

Explore other ways beyond the classroom to refresh your skills. For example, Alboher says a friend in her 60s enlisted a Millennial friend of one of her children to be her tech coach/tutor to help her get ready for an encore career move.

Credit: Ashlea Ebeling, Forbes