In this series about encore careers, we’ve talked about why we should consider an encore career as part of our unretirement and how to figure out the right encore career. So, we have a game plan. Today, we’ll start talking about the task of finding it.
I was going to say finding your encore career is the hard part, but I’m not sure it is. I can’t help but wonder if figuring out what we want to do later in life is the hardest part. My guess is for the majority of us, we identify with our career. Changing to a different career or even going from full-time to part-time in the same job could be hard.
It could be said that finding our dream encore career is challenging because job hunting in general is hard. And that’s true. But there are a few things we can do to keep our job search skills fresh.
Don’t stop thinking about networking and job search. Until you are 100 percent, completely and absolutely convinced you will never need to look for a job again, you should always have job search in the back of your mind. You should continuously build a network. As a human resources professional, I am amazed at the people (of all ages) who find themselves looking for a new job, struggle finding something because they don’t have a network, swear that they’re never going fall into bad networking habits again, and as soon as they land a new position…they stop networking.
Take some classes. Especially around the use of technology. AARP is regularly offering job-search webinars for older workers. And they’re recorded so you don’t have to listen to them live if you have a scheduling conflict. If you’ve never tuned into one of these sessions, it will only take you a few moments to realize that being a lifelong learner and keeping your skills current is going to be key in getting an encore opportunity.
Get a retirement career coach. When we first started this blog, I interviewed Hannah Morgan (aka Career Sherpa) about getting a retirement career coach. This is a great opportunity to work with someone on developing an encore career that you will find rewarding. If you don’t have the budget for a coach right now, start reading some career related blogs that might offer some preliminary insights.
Which leads me to my last point and the subject of today’s post – volunteerism. One of the best ways to learn about different careers, gain new skills, and show off the skills you currently have is volunteering. Lots of organizations want volunteers and they rely on them to help their operation. But, even with volunteerism, you have to be patient. You can’t just show up and expect the entire organization to give you whatever you ask for. If your strategy is to get involved with a non-profit in the hopes that you can get a job there, you have to think short- and long- term.
Start getting to know non-profits in your area. Find out what they do, how they get their funding, who’s on their board, etc. etc. You want to work with a non-profit that aligns with your values, has solid funding, and a respectable, ethical board of directors.
Apply for a volunteer role. Consider this to be the best job interview you could ever have. See how the non-profit treats volunteers. The volunteer experience will give you some sense of what working there will be like. See how they manage the organization.
Talk with management about goals. Once you know that you’re happy with the organization and the people associated with it, then consider setting up a time to talk about transitioning into an employee role. You don’t have to rush this conversation.
Becoming a volunteer is great for organizations and good for you. It can also be a source for your encore career. But it takes time to find the right non-profit and build the relationships. The good news is that you know what to do. You’ve been networking, interviewing, and doing job research your entire career. Use those skills to create the encore career of your dreams.