Job-hopping, as an article in Time.com labels the act of switching careers, was once “taboo” but is “now normal even for workers past age 50.” Since the 1980s, increasing numbers of people have been switching careers later in life, although this trend has declined slightly in recent years. When trying to determine if people were changing jobs because they involuntarily lost them or if they were making deliberate career moves, the conclusion in the article is that “voluntary job-hopping accounts for most of the increase in late-career switches.”
Is that a good idea? Well, a CNBC.com article goes so far as to say that “Perhaps the best time to change up your career is when you’re near its end.” And, if you’re thinking about a new later-in-life career – also called an “encore career” – CNBC shares five steps to transition to your next calling.
The first step involves soul-searching, mulling over abilities gained in your professional life to date and how they might apply to a new career. Next, volunteer or moonlight in the new career to see what you really think. What might have been enjoyable as a hobby, as just one example, might not be so rewarding if it becomes your full-time job.
Network with people who are in the field you’re considering and ask questions, including how they prepared themselves for that career. Polish your resume and come up with a financial plan that helps you to transition jobs without significant debt hanging over your head.
An article in NextAvenue.org is written by a woman whose career took an “unexpected and brutal nosedive” during her 50s. By the age of 60, though, she was working in a career that gave her life new meaning—and she offers tips tailored to an older adult who is ready to change his or her career path.
Step one is to “explore your passion as a pragmatic act,” noting that it takes “focus and grit” when switching careers. With passion as your fuel, she invites people to imagine the time in the workplace in which they felt motivated to do the best work possible, along with listing three activities (at work or not) where they felt “most aligned.” Using that information, “Figure out your superpower, the one gift or talent that comes most naturally.”
She offers advice on how to fill resume gaps through volunteering, along with tips on practicing how to demonstrate that your talent can be transferred from one career to the next. She emphasizes the importance of networking and of getting any necessary training to become an in-demand person in your new career field. Finally, she also supports the idea of doing a test run in your new career before making the big switch.
Greater Retirement Security with a Career Change After 50
Interestingly enough, when people voluntarily switch careers later in life, a report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College notes how they actually tend to improve their retirement prospects.
Switching careers always comes with risk, even when doing so voluntarily. But, as more people are following a new career path later in life, “many of them are earning more money or are enjoying what they do. So they stay at work longer, which significantly boosts their prospects for a happy retirement.”