Reinvention

Now more than ever, retiring doesn’t mean kicking back for the next 30 years in a rocking porch on your front porch.  A recent poll from the Associated Press and LifeGoesStrong.com found that 73% of baby boomers plan to work into their retirement years.

Whether you’re the type to go stir crazy without a place to go every day, or your nest egg is a little shaky, chances are you fall in this camp.  Some of you will stay in your current line of work, but many will scale back and change careers.  Retirement is actually a great time for a fresh start.  But if you’re not sure how to go about reinventing yourself, it can also be really intimidating.  Here, some tips on making a career change:

Try to put your finger on your passion. Do you have a hobby that could be turned into a moneymaker?  Do you have a fantasy career you’ve always wanted to pursue? In what other industry or business might your talents and experience be of value?

Once you have a good handle on what you want to do, and what your skills will allow, research the types of careers that fit the bill. Start with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, which offers descriptions of hundreds of different careers. Once you’ve narrowed it down, talk to people in the fields you’re considering. Ask them for both the pros and cons of their positions to get an accurate sense of what their job entails and if you’d be interested in doing something similar.  Consider the hours, as well – at this stage in the game, you may not be up for a regular nine to five.

Then—and this is crucial—take a realistic look at what is available in the current job market. Pay attention to news headlines to see what industries are hiring. Seek out jobs in your area by talking with the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. And start looking at the big job boards daily (Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and HotJobs.com are my favorites).

Tap into your networks – both professional and social. Let people know about your career change quest. Often, they’ll know about jobs that aren’t advertised. Make use of social networking tools like LinkedIn or Facebook to reconnect with old contacts and make new ones.

Freshen your skills.  If you think you need it, take a course or two to get up to date on the latest in your new field.

Consider a career counselor.  A career counselor can be a great resource if you’re struggling with decisions surrounding your career change. He or she will evaluate your education, training, skills, work history, interests and personality traits to help you find work that’s a good fit. A counselor can also arrange for you to take aptitude or achievement tests to better hone in on your interests and qualifications. Then, the counselor will work with you to develop your job-search skills and help you locate and apply for jobs.

Go out on your own.   Think about the skills you’ve used throughout your career and how they might allow you to become self-employed.  A flexible schedule would allow you to balance the perks of retirement with work you love.  Maybe you can go freelance or become a consultant.

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