QUESTION: I am 55 years old and am considering a career change. What advice can you offer me?
ANSWER: The Bureau of Labor Statistics state that if you are over fifty you’re in the fastest growing segment of the workforce. With “baby boomers” coming of age a quarter of the workforce will be over 55 by the year 2024.
Without knowing your particular circumstances it’s difficult to advise a course of action. However, I will discuss three scenarios that, hopefully, will give you some insights:
- The job just isn’t fun anymore – This is a common complaint from people who find themselves in a dead-end job. They are doing the same repetitive tasks over and over and are no longer challenged intellectually. If this is you, I suggest you go to your boss and tell him or her that you feel you can do more and would appreciate the opportunity to grow in the organization. Sometimes you must stand up to be recognized.
- You have been laid off – While this is traumatic, it is not the end of the world. You have many years of experience that has value. Rather than making a career change, it makes more sense to pursue a similar type of work. Because of your prior experience you will require little orientation in your new job which saves your employer time and money. Initially you may have to take a salary cut, but if you’re good at what you do, in time, management will take note and compensate you accordingly.
- You really want to do something different – If this you and you have accumulated enough savings to tide you over until you find an alternative, I recommend you use your life experiences to help guide you in the due diligence process. Start by writing down those qualities that are missing from your current work experience. Settle on something that you really love and will satisfy you creatively. Ideally, this should be something that you can make good money at and allow for any constraints that come with getting older.
Don’t limit your thinking to full-time employment. Consider consulting, part-time or temp work or volunteering. This will afford you the opportunity to experience different work environments and aid you in making an informed decision.
If self-employment is one of your options and you are considering an investment in a new business or franchise, take the time to get a financial expert’s opinion before committing to anything. The last thing you want to do is to fail and wipe out your retirement savings.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples and can be reached at www.Gray.Poehler@scorevolunteer.org. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building. Office hours are 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday.