It’s no surprise that older members of the workforce are being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article from PBS News Hour, older workers are faced with two huge challenges when it comes to work and the pandemic. First, there’s the science that says older persons are a higher risk of exposure to the virus. Second, older workers are finding it hard to land new opportunities in today’s labor market.
I wish I could say this is going to change once we all get vaccines, but I don’t know if that’s true. There are still many unknowns regarding our economic recovery and the longer-term impacts of the virus. But one thing is certain. Older workers should be thinking about both their short- and long-term career plans.
Always having a “Plan B” where your career is concerned is a good idea. There’s no rule that says you have to use it. It just makes good sense to think about the career options you might be willing to explore if circumstances warrant. It allows you to stay in control of your professional career.
If you’re looking for a place to start thinking about your future career options, here are a handful of articles that might help.
As we’re thinking about our retirement (and unretirement), one option that’s available to us is an encore career. It’s defined as a job or career that happens later in life to provide both purpose and money. According to Encore.org, some of the most promising fields for encore careers are in the non-profit sector, management services, and services for aging persons. Currently, the older generation is also the largest freelancing group.
An Unretirement Project reader asked about how to “take the skills we’ve honed to a razor’s edge during our regular career and apply them to something completely new.” It’s a very valid point. As we start considering our future career options, we need to be able to identify and sell the transferable job skills we’ve acquired throughout our professional lives.
A portfolio career is where someone works many part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. For example, an accountant might sell insurance and do tax preparation. It’s the idea of having several smaller jobs that a person can work on at the same time. This might not be optimal for everyone. But for some, this could be exactly the flexible work arrangement you’re looking for.
Even if you’re not planning a transition to an encore or portfolio career, it’s important to keep your skills relevant. That means finding ways to keep your business acumen current and possibly exposing yourself to new experiences via volunteerism.
It should come as no surprise that one of the biggest competencies that organizations expect from employees is business acumen. It’s important to know the business, be able to talk about it, and make decisions to help the business grow. But honestly, it’s hard to develop business acumen. Oh sure, a lot of people throw business buzzwords around like “growth mindset” and “blue ocean strategy” but do they really know everything those terms mean? In today’s business world, new concepts are being developed all the time. It’s a challenge to stay current, especially when your plate is already full of work.
We know that, for many, workplace unrest, furloughs and layoffs have upended retirement planning. Volunteering may not be an option when your focus is on an interim job or your next opportunity. However, a volunteer role may provide experience, new skills, or connections that could lead to a new job. Something to keep in mind. For others, volunteering can be a rewarding way to support others and the causes that really matter. Use your spare time to find something that matches your interests and skills. And if volunteering is still a few months or years away, no problem. You can do the groundwork now to find what’s best for you.
Remember that old saying, “The best time to look for a job is when you have one.”? Well, it’s possible that won’t always apply. We weren’t able to predict a pandemic and its recovery. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t always have a career plan.
A career plan allows us to see the possibilities. We can act on them if we want to or need to. A career plan can allow us to be in control of our career, which is so incredibly important. As we think about retirement, be able to control how and when your career ends on your own terms.