Boomer Employment – Deciding on a Second Career

Unless you’ve really loved what you have done with your career in the first half, now is a great time to test other areas. The neat thing about your second career is that it can be something you actually enjoy doing. Just make sure that there is a stable retirement plan and if you didn’t get health insurance with your first career when you retired, that there is a retirement health plan attached.

If you are a boomer, like most of us, you may not have planned on retirement in the first half and now find that with the length of life being increased dramatically you need to think of something pretty fast so that you don’t wind up in a situation you don’t want to be in.

We are going to assume that you were working through the first half and have about twenty years under your belt. That you worked at a job that paid well and you were able to support your family and get your kids through college or into some kind of job and now they are married and perhaps you are even a grandparent. 

In the past, most people were able to work at one job their whole life. They raised their families and retired and stayed in the same house until they went into a home or moved in with one of the kids. It’s not like that anymore because now we are healthier and able to work longer (even if we don’t feel like it). Which is why it is so important that the second career choice also be our passion.

As an employee going into their second career, you have several choices. Some people find the exact same job for their second career. This usually proves to be a less than ideal choice, because you have done that job so long that the “kids” running the show make a lot of mistakes and you usually feel the insatiable need to “help” or “advise” or whatever, even though you weren’t hired for that role. This usually makes us feel really old and disrespected, which is not good and it usually leaves us feeling depressed as well as out of a job.

Accept that you don’t need to feel a lot of pressure in your second career. You do need to feel challenged and passionate and look forward to going to work. So, the second career, unlike the first is really not based on money (benefits, yes, but not money). This may mean an entirely different direction in your career path.

Let’s look at some of the areas you will need to address to make a wise decision for your second career. First, and most importantly, did you really love what you did? If so, then the logical choice is to find an area where the transferable skills you have are needed, but in a business or industry that is entirely new. This will give you a fresh outlook and will make the job challenging while at the same time fulfilling your passion.

If you really didn’t love what you did for twenty plus years, then think about what you do love to do. It is just amazing the jobs that are out there that will meet the needs of a person with passion. They don’t pay as much, and that is ok. At this time in your life you really aren’t looking for the kind of pay you made when you left the first job.

Many people expect to enter they second career making the same money they were making when they left the first career. This is just not going to happen. Even if you enter your second career doing exactly the same thing as the first one, you will find that you still are going in at an entry level. Maybe the top range of the entry level, but still entry level. If you are expecting to make the same money you will be disappointed. But, remember, this is the prime opportunity for you to enter a profession that you really love and is another reason to assess your feelings about your first career and all of the times you thought, “Gee, if only I’d tried…” Guess what? Now is your time to try.

Your second career is a great adventure. You get to try all kinds of new and different things. If you are just starting out, or if you are wondering where to start, a temp agency is a great way to go. Then, you can try different jobs on until you find the match that is right for you. I have a friend who took a job that paid a little more than nothing, but was a fun office. Yes, that’s the only reason that she took the job, fun office. Anyway, she has been at that job for about seven months now, has received two raises and is in line for a promotion shortly. Why? Because she went into the job as an adventure, not to make the money she had made previously and not to “resume” a position in the stuffy office she had worked at for over twenty years.

In our second career we can afford to take some risks, take our time and really find what we love to do. It is a great opportunity to become the person we always knew we could be, or at least try to become that person.

If you have a good retirement from your first career, then you are in the unique position to try several things. You might want to start your own business, become a partner in a start-up, or go back to school. I have another friend who loved to play the piano, her second career was teaching piano. Now, she is not the greatest piano player in the world, but she is passionate, loves what she does, and her students are beginners. Surprisingly she made more money teaching piano than she did in her first career. And this is where we talk about money.

If you start your own business, you have to have a plan for saving at least half of the money you make. If you can contribute to your retirement plan great, but if not you need to start an IRA or talk to a financial advisor to see how to make the most of those saved dollars. It is unlikely you will haved a third career, so this is the one that needs to count in terms of saving money and preparing for a the kind of retirement that you will one day be able to take advantage of.

Think about what you love to do and do it. At this stage in our boomer lives we have worked to take care of others and seen them grow and hopefully succeed. Now it is time to think about ourselves and take the opportunity to learn new things, go new places and begin to participate in a career that we love.  We have reached a great place in our lives where we are old enough not to make really bad choices, but young enough to start a great new adventure!