How to Start a Second Career After You Have Retired

by Ilene Tatroe

Driven by longer and healthier lifespans, concerns over financial security or simply a desire to do something different in their remaining years, Americans are looking to second careers upon retirement. Nine million people between the ages of 44 and 70 have turned to encore careers, with another 31 million interested in making the jump, according to a Met Life/Civic Ventures study. The transition to a new career after retirement takes planning and hard work, and the results can be both financially and socially rewarding.

Identify Your Passions

A second career is a chance to do something you love while making money. Take some time to think about and list out your different passions and how you might turn a profit by pursuing them. Keep your mind open and think about different paths you could take with your interests. For example, if you love gardening, you could work at a garden center, start your own small landscaping business or teach classes. Keep in mind that figuring out what interests you can be a difficult stage, says Betsy Werley, executive director of the Transition Network, a New York City-based networking group for women older than 50.

Figure Out the Finances

Even though your second career should help your household cash flow, chances are that following your passions will earn you significantly less money than your first career did. You should understand the potential impact of your new career on your income and lifestyle. This is the perfect time to draw up a budget so that you can understand that both this income and retirement overall impact your lifestyle. Don't forget to include any decreases in Social Security benefits you might see because of the income you earn from this second career. If you are pursuing an entrepreneurial venture, make sure you account for initial and ongoing investments.

Homework Before Retirement

Don't expect to jump from your first career directly into your encore career without doing your homework. Identify your passions, skills, and financial goals before you retire. Use this time to network with others in your intended second career. They can answer your questions and help you better understand the business before you leap into it. Consider interning, volunteering, or freelancing while you are working full time so that you can better understand the job and make sure you'll enjoy it, suggests CBS MoneyWatch Blogger Robert Pagliarini.

Reinvent Yourself

If you've done your homework during your career, when retirement comes along, you should have the information, skills and connections you need to reinvent yourself. Don't forget to let everyone know you've made the transition, whether it's to a consultant role in your original career field or a brand new job following your dreams. Just as you would in a first career, update your resume and social media profiles, work with your network to get the word out, and market yourself so that potential clients and employers know you're available and ready to work in a field you love.

About the Author

Ilene Tatroe has worked in the technology industry since 1996, with more than 10 years as a product manager for human capital management and workforce optimization applications. She has an MBA in marketing from Bentley University, as well as a Masters in journalism from New York University.

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