How to reinvent your career

Written by
Carol Stewart

11 Feb 2016

11 Feb 2016 • by Carol Stewart

With a 26% increase in people over the age of 65 continuing to work in the UK since the abolition of the mandatory retirement age, 50 really has become the new 30. By people living longer and not only that, remaining fit and healthy for longer, retiring at 65 for some, is not even an option they are going to consider.

Added to that, the increase in retirement age and the pensions crisis, many people have no choice but to continue working a lot longer. To that end, between 2008 and 2013 in the UK, there was an increase of 46% of over 65s in employment or seeking employment.

In today’s terms, someone aged 50 could potentially have another 20, even 30 years of working ahead of them. Whereas previous generations in their 50s probably had their eye on a retirement that seemed not too distant, today’s 50 year old needs to consider their plans for the final leg of their career.

Be in control of your career

Being clear about what you want for your late career means that you can be in control.  If you know what it is that you want, in the event that you should face a setback such as redundancy, having a vision of what you want makes it easier for you to pick yourself back up and move on.

With a lot of focus on the millennials, let’s not forget the Baby Boomers who are highly skilled, highly experienced and still have a lot of talent to offer in the marketplace.  Many whom feel that they are often overlooked because of their age, or have experienced being shunted over for the younger, cheaper millennials.

There is cause for people of this generation who are in this position, to reconsider what they want and reinvent their careers.

Think about what it is that you really want

Having worked in a particular field for many years, what can today’s 50+ worker do if their job no longer fits them?

Whilst a man or woman who is mature in age may not feel at home working in a trendy, hip, new high tech environment, there are still many options available to the over 50s that want to reinvent their career at this stage of their life.

Starting again at this time of life can actually be quite an exciting time. At this phase of your life, you are more likely to know what you want from what you don’t want.  You know what your strengths are and what you enjoy doing.  Chances are you are at a stage in your life where you just want to be yourself and are no longer concerned with trying to impress just to get ahead.

You will have been through many changes and organisational restructures and have probably seen things come full circle.  As such, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to know what works and what doesn’t. All of which you can take with you in to a new environment.

What skills do you have what do you enjoy and what are you good at?

The world of work has changed considerably since you started working and the pace of change is ever quickening. Adapting to change is essential in order to not get left behind and becoming one of those people who constantly bangs on about the good old days.

If you are unsure about what your next career move will be, think back over your entire career, what were the things that you enjoyed doing the most and were good at?  How can you draw on your skills and years of experience and utilise them to enter in to a new career?

What sort of roles exist that will enable you to make use of this?

Is there something that you always wanted to do but because of other pressures or commitments when you were younger, you gave up on pursuing that dream?  What will it take to make it happen now? Do you need to brush up on your skills, retrain, do some studying, or get some practical experience?  If so, how can you go about achieving this?

If you have not needed to use your CV for a long time, now may be the time to revamp it.  Make yourself aware of how CVs are presented these days because you don’t want to be using one that is in an out of date format.

What environment would you want to work in?

What sort of environment do you want to work in?  What sort of organisational values align with your values?  It is important to give consideration to this if you are to get fulfilment from your work.  Working in an environment where you don’t share the same values can be very toxic.

Do your research about the organisations that you want to work in.  Remember, it’s not just about whether you are a good fit for the organisation, it is also about whether the organisation is a good fit for you.

Have you considered starting your own business?

Now could be an ideal time to pursue that business idea you have toyed with over the years.  Whilst starting a business and working for yourself is not necessarily an easy choice to make, running your own business can be very rewarding.

Working for yourself you no longer have to put up with office politics that you don’t agree with. You will have the autonomy to choose how you work and who you work with.

And with a considerable skills gap amongst younger workers, amidst concerns of the ticking  demographic time bomb as older employees retire and exit the workforce, you could offer consultative services or training to bridge that gap.

There are many people doing work that they love in their 70s, 80s and 90s. In fact, even Elliot Jacques the scientist who coined the phrase midlife crisis was still publishing books in his 80s.

Starting your career again at midlife doesn’t have to be fraught with difficulties and anxiety. With many years still ahead, as you enter this phase of your late career, take the driving seat and be in control, rather than taking a back seat and your future being dictated to you.