At some point in your career, you might say to yourself, “I like my job but, don’t want to do this forever.” As we get older, we might not want to travel as much for work. Or maybe we want to work in a different industry. It’s possible we want to pursue work in a nonprofit that’s always intrigued us. Pursuing a second career later in life — or during retirement years — is often called an “encore career.”
Encore careers can provide very rewarding opportunities, beyond simply bringing in some extra cash. They can make us feel productive, rewarded and fulfilled. But pursing an encore career isn’t easy. It takes some thought and planning — not just in terms of what type of work we’d like to do, but how we’re going to make the transition from our current career to a new one.
The first things to understand are the advantages and disadvantages of transitioning to an encore career. On the plus side, Ruchi Kaushik, director of talent acquisition for Unum, points out that organizations are always looking to attract and retain older workers.
“Tenured and experienced workers bring companies a solid knowledge base and provide a strong support system to new employees joining the workforce,” Kaushik says. “In turn, this promotes employee loyalty and morale as well as increases the overall stability of the work environment.”
On the other hand, Kaushik reminds employees considering an encore career they need to demonstrate a continued commitment to their current job.
“A disadvantage would be that your current supervisor or employer might feel you’re not giving them 100%. Employees will want to reassure the company they remain committed to their current role/team/project while at the same time they’re investing in both their and the company’s future needs.”
Speaking of future needs, as you’re thinking about an encore career, there are advantages to sharing your plans with your employer. There might be opportunities within your own organization, but if you don’t ask, you won’t learn of these opportunities. That includes opportunities for training and development.
Kaushik points out it’s more challenging to get back into the workforce once you’ve left for some time. “It’s better to get an early start toward bridging the new phase in your life. Employees can speak with their supervisor about ‘experimenting’ and trying different roles. Find out if there are opportunities to get involved in projects where you can be hands-on. This will help diversify your knowledge and skills in addition to opening up options when you consider a new encore opportunity.”
Organizations are always looking for good employees. Encore careers can provide older workers with the ability to still contribute and be productive. It’s important to spend time thinking about your encore career plans, including how to communicate those plans to your manager.