5 Steps to a Successful Second Career
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) There's a big focus on retirement planning and having enough money when we don't want to work anymore. But who plans for a second income-producing career later in life or takes into account that the first career might end before we are ready?
That's when it's time for a career do-over. Baby Boomers - the most highly educated American generation born between 1946 and 1964 and 78 million strong - are driving this trend.
"It used to be a mark of success if you could afford to retire early," says Gary Burtless, research associate at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. "But now, with Social Security incentives to delay retirement and employer-matched 401(k) plan contributions, people are still working at the age of 69 and there's more status to successfully working later in life."
Debt, reduced value or loss of investments and lack of financial readiness, especially in context of the recent recession and its aftermath, can also influence the decision to keep working beyond retirement age, says Elizabeth F. Fideler, Ed.D., researcher and author of Women Still at Work: Professionals Over Sixty and On the Job (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012) and a forthcoming book on aging men in the workforce. "But, those who continue to work generally love what they do, feel they are contributing, find meaning in their work and enjoy their colleagues, students, patients and clients," she says.
In many cases, it is about more than money, says Marci Alboher, vice president at Encore.org and author of the Encore Career Handbook (Workman, 2012). "At this stage of life, people want to pursue their passions and get a paycheck."
You might also see this trend in embarking on new or related careers later in life termed, "Re-Career," "Encore Career," or "Second Act Career."
No matter what it's called, career coaches have some pretty specific ideas on how to embark on a career do-over.
Is it hard to re-engineer a career?
It may take time and money. New research from Civic Ventures shows that the transition from midlife work to a second career can be costly and time-consuming. Of the estimated 9 million Americans already in second careers, almost 25% reported earning no income during the transition. On average, job searches lasted 18 months and about 34% said the process took over two years.
That's the conundrum facing Judi Perkins, the former How-To Career Coach who is re-engineering her career right now, after 22 years as a corporate recruiter and seven more years as an independent career coach. "It's not like you get up in the morning and say, 'I need to find a totally new job,'" she says. "Instead you are thinking, 'What do I really want to do? What am I passionate about?' I want to put myself out there and earn money based on what I love.".