Older Workers Should Prepare for Career Changes

Filed under: Retirement

You’ve been in your career for the past few decades, and you might assume that you will hold your current position until retirement. Indeed, it may be difficult for most older workers to imagine switching fields this late in their careers.

Image of senior leader smiling at camera in working environmentThat’s a perfectly normal way to feel. But with today’s business world changing so rapidly, it’s important to remember that skills become quickly outdated. Just think of our high unemployment rate; many highly qualified workers, even ones with advanced degrees, are having trouble finding a job. Nothing is guaranteed anymore.

In fact, a recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons uncovered an alarming truth: More than 50 percent of previously unemployed older workers did eventually find jobs, but in completely different fields from their prior jobs. Certainly this is good news for those who needed employment for financial reasons, and some workers may even find the change refreshing. Nevertheless, a significant number of these workers were probably shocked or dismayed at the outcome.

So, what should you do to prevent a surprising employment situation? First of all, regularly review your skill set to make sure you remain competitive in the job market. It might help to update your resume once per year, or even peruse job listings in your field to get an idea of what type of skill set is sought by employers.

Visiting a vocational counselor is another good idea. This counselor can analyze your interest and talents, and take stock of your current skills. They can also make recommendations for updating your skill set as it relates to your current industry, or help you to imagine possible careers in new fields.

If you do decide to change careers, either by choice or necessity, you might find it helpful to volunteer in that field. Sign up for one afternoon per week of volunteer work, or apply for temporary or part-time jobs to see if the field is a good fit for you.

If you do decide to make a big career change, remember to keep track with your retirement plan. If you stop making contributions to a retirement account, you will delay your retirement and probably need to work longer in order to make up for the lost time.

14635 – 2015/6/30

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