One of the great things about unretirement is that you don’t have to go it alone. For example, there are dozens of retirement-related blogs that you can read for inspiration and information. There are also professionals who can help you.
Let’s say you’re considering an encore career in your unretirement but aren’t sure yet what you’d like to do. Do you want to be a consultant? A writer? Or maybe just take a part-time job as a barista at Starbucks? All of those options are possible. But realistically, the decision could be tough. If you’d like help making decisions about your encore career, consider getting a career coach.
To understand more about what career coaches do, I reached out to Hannah Morgan (aka Career Sherpa). She is a nationally recognized career coach and author of the book, “The Infographic Resume”. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Hannah over at HR Bartender. Her suggestions on “What to do if You’re Stuck in a Dead-End Job” are worth a read.
Hannah, first of all, briefly describe what a career coach does? I could see someone saying “I’m already employed. What do I need a career coach for?”
[Morgan] There are times in your life when need expert advice. Let’s say you wanted recommendations on what to do with your financial investments. Would you get advice from a friend or would you consult with a financial planner? You might do both, but you would probably rely on the recommendations of someone who manages investments for a living. This is why tapping into the expertise of a career coach is so valuable.
A career coach is someone who has expertise in helping people evaluate career options, not just find jobs. A career coach regularly consults with clients on career decision making issues from identifying the right opportunities to planning future career moves. A coach can help you see alternatives and is qualified to help map out a solution that’s right for you.
Many workers are considering a new second career (also known as an encore career) as they get older. How should a person decide if an encore career is for them?
[Morgan] When deciding what you will do for your encore career, there are many things to consider:
- What are you interested in (or passionate about)?
- What skills do you enjoy using?
- What is the market demand for those skills?
- How much do you want to work? And,
- What are your income requirements?
For the first time in your life, you have the opportunity to choose a career move that will serve your wants and needs. As you can see, identifying what you may want to do as an encore career is a complicated decision and one you will need assistance evaluating.
Is it better to have an encore career in a field related to your current profession? Why or why not?
[Morgan] If you loved the work you did in your last role and love the industry, then it would make sense to stay within it, perhaps as a consultant or working as an advisor. However, if you are no longer excited by the type of work you are doing, you may want to tap into your outside interests for ideas which would provide options for an encore career.
Sometimes collecting a big fat paycheck isn’t the main driver- people may just want something to keep busy. Taking a retail job, seasonal work or even tapping into the sharing economy, with Airbnb, Uber or Lyft provide social and mental stimulation.
Whatever direction you go in, you should be interested and engaged in the work. Breaking into an encore career may require assistance to help you define what is most important to you during this point in your career and can take effort. A career coach can help you identify opportunities that meet your needs.
I assume pursuing an encore career takes time. How long should people expect to prepare for an encore career?
[Morgan] Finding encore opportunities is going to be challenging. You may have to invent the position or start your own business in order to get what you are looking for. This will take time. How much time will depend on factors like the viability of your idea, your messaging and announcement, and the strength of your network.
Before you do anything, you also want to speak with your accountant and financial advisor about social security regulations and access to investments in your 401(k) or pension. You don’t want to be penalized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for making too much or early withdrawal of funds.
Is applying for an encore career job the same as applying for a regular, full-time job now? How should a candidate explain they are transitioning to their encore career?
[Morgan] You can’t go to Indeed or any job board and find a listing of encore careers. Well, not at this time. Your encore career may be an existing role within an organization. You might be able to slip into an existing role if you have the right connections. But a question that any interviewer wants to know is whether or not you’ll stick around for a couple of years. It is your responsibility to anticipate this question and proactively address why you are looking for an encore career.
Your explanation should include your motivation or why you want to make the transition into a new role at this point in your career. You also need to convince the interviewer that you are dedicated to this new career path, so explain why you are pursuing that company and that type of job.
Encore careers can be an exciting and fulfilling part of unretirement. But deciding what your encore career will be could take some time. And some planning. Using a career coach could help you focus on your goals so you make the right decision.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby somewhere in her South Florida offices.