Career Do-over

By Chelle Cordero

July 14, 2015 4 min read

Life didn't go as planned, and suddenly you find yourself needing or wanting to start over again. There can be many reasons to change careers and individual focus. Now is the time to reassess your skills and your personal life. Reinvent yourself with exercise, diet, meditation, makeovers and possibly even a change in venue. Freshen your resume to emphasize relevant skills. Get ready to submit job applications and go on interviews.

Change is stressful, particularly if the change was not by choice. And older workers often face the added problems of outdated skills and health concerns and even the unspoken biases of potential employers. While age discrimination is illegal, many job seekers in their 50s and 60s complain of not getting called back for interviews even when they seemed qualified for the position. But reinventing yourself isn't nearly as daunting as you might think.

Priorities change. Ten, 20 or 30 years ago, today's adults went to work to pay off student debt, buy homes, raise families and send their offspring to college. Now it's finally time to put aside money for retirement, travel and long-term health care concerns. Suddenly the older worker finds himself or herself out of a job but still too young to collect retirement benefits, or maybe savings aren't enough to supplement meager retirement pensions or Social Security. Going back to work may be necessary, but drudgery needn't be.

Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Before you begin your job hunt, ask yourself a few questions: What have you been doing with your life to this point? Have you mastered a skill set or created a serious interest in something you'd like to learn more about? What do you like doing, and what are you passionate about? Following your passion can be more than a job; it can become your life's calling. What can you do that the world or your community needs? Your goals at this stage of life are almost certainly different from the goals you had years before. What do you want to accomplish now?

Creating a project plan for your life will help guide you toward a successful and satisfactory career. What would you like to see happen in your "world"? This could be a global desire or one for your community or your family; it is not centered on you. Think about your objectives: What do you want to learn? Is there something you want to personally accomplish? How much money do you need to earn? Who are the people you want around you? Think about how you will accomplish your goals. What resources do you have available? Are there people who can assist you? Devise a timetable and the steps you will need to take in order to actualize your goals. This table should include actions to take this week, this month, this year, etc. This formula is similar to that for making a business plan.

Older workers have a lot of background, knowledge and experience to build on, and years of experience can easily translate into a career, a consulting service or a privately owned business. Adapting your passion or hobby will make work seem less like drudgery and more like adventure. If you find you need new skills, check with your local community colleges. Many of them will permit seniors to audit classes for free (space permitting). High schools might offer adult education classes. Check with local A.A.R.P. offices for a list of (often free) job training resources. Update your resume, and keep only the most pertinent work experience from the last 10 to 12 years. List your education but not the year of graduation to make your resume less age-specific.

There are millions of jobs listed on the Internet, but networking and word of mouth are still among the best ways to find a job.

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