Dear Sam: I was recently offered a buyout after 26 years at a wonderful organization. Although I am getting a pretty great severance package, I am not quite ready to retire. How might I approach finding a 20- to 30-hour-a-week role that will still allow me to keep my skills polished, but also will allow for some flexibility to spend time with my grandchildren and on the golf course? — Susan
Dear Susan: So many in your situation are evaluating what we call ‘encore careers’ and writing the next chapter in their professional journey. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, almost 60% of retirees intend to search for a new position post-retirement. The first thing you would want to do is determine what the ‘next’ looks like. Do you want to leverage any area of expertise honed during your professional career to perhaps engage as a consultant? Or are you simply seeking any part-time role to stay involved in a workplace setting? Identifying your target is critical to positioning your candidacy as you look to develop your resume, engage your network, and conduct your job search.
Encore careers do tend to be in areas that align with the candidate’s mission or purpose in life, with many professionals following their interests and passions as they pursue new opportunities. For this reason, I can tell you I have worked with many seasoned professionals and positioned them for consulting or entrepreneurial ventures where they focus on applying their skills and expertise in a capacity offering much more freedom than a traditional employee role. Some candidates pursue roles with startups that require an individual to wear many ‘hats’ which align well with the broad, well-developed skill set of a seasoned professional.
Regardless of what encore career you pursue, be sure you have done your due diligence and identified what it is you want and don’t want out of your second act. Pursuing an engagement with a startup might work well, but do you prefer a risk-averse environment? Do you require a certain compensation level that will prevent you from simply following a passion area? Giving serious thought to what you need and what you want is critically important.
There are some great anecdotal stories of professionals who have transitioned to encore careers on the aarp.org website. An excerpt from the website states, “For six months, the editors at the AARP Bulletin searched America to find ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their second careers. What we learned: When people stay true to their passions and set their hearts and minds to it, new careers can take off at any age. Some provide large financial rewards; others simply supplement pensions and Social Security checks but pay off big in terms of fulfillment, pride, and satisfaction.”
You might find some creative inspiration in learning of some of the stories and transitions others have made when seeking to write the next chapter in their professional career. Like an organizational trainer who transitioned to become a dog walker, a corporate philanthropist who transitioned to become the CEO of a museum, or my favorite, a newspaper publisher who is now enjoying life as a sailboat captain! The possibilities are, quite possibly, limitless! All the best as you navigate this exciting time.