The baby boomer generation covers a wide demographic range. The oldest boomers are turning 62 and reaching an age around which their parents thought about retiring. The youngest, are in their early 40s and hitting the pinnacle of their careers. Some boomers are extremely rich while others struggle.
The only major common denominator is their self-determined approach to their working lives. For a major segment of them, this now means starting a whole new career post retirement from existing careers. Some are leaving or retiring from high-paying executive positions to get into nonprofit organizations or government jobs. Some are going into businesses for themselves, buying franchises or trying to convert a hobby or a passion into a paying endeavor, while others are seeking a change of track or looking for consultancy positions within their own fields.
Many of these job changes are driven by a need to find more meaning in their life, to give back to society, altruism. A sizeable number of boomers have taken a large pay cut, and opted for a much more physically demanding job, often involving heavy travel. But, they are happy. These new lower paying non-profit, public sector or government jobs are a way for these career-changers to find more personal satisfaction.
In the traditional way of thought, making a career change, at any point in life, entails finding a new or different job. For some of the baby boomer generation however, with founders of massive conglomerates, like Bill Gates and Michael Dell among them, there seems to be a different route of choice. They seem to prefer creating a job of their own, to their own specifications, by starting a new business. In their middle years, reappraising their lifestyles, they see themselves as people who don’t take care about themselves, manage too little sleep and hardly ever exercise. This has led many of them to launch their own firms.
Although many of them agree that the transition from a well-defined job to being the person responsible for everything from ideas, marketing, sales and balancing the books, adds stress, it is only for a short time. Working for them is a great way to feel alive and knowing that they are doing something that matters. The career change is about more than just making money and they are driven by a sense of having done the same thing for far too long.
Some of the job changes, unfortunately, begin with a summons to an HR meeting that intimates to them the coming unemployment. Many companies are downsizing white-collar employees and the permanent elimination of people from organizations comes abruptly. In good, and bad, times, this has come to be a standard management practice. Statistics say that, since the 1980s, more than 30 million workers have been laid off, and a vast majority of them are baby boomers.
Some of these boomers deal with these layoffs by turning their passions into careers. Some choose to earn an M.B.A. or continue their education in some other way, to enhance current market value of their skills. With life expectancies lengthening and most traditional pension plans drying up, they need new careers that will keep them going for many years to come.