Changing jobs in later life

Changing jobs in later life

As you start to look ahead in your 50s and 60s, you may find yourself with a threefold financial commitment – towards yourself, your children and your parents. But that doesn’t mean you can’t consider a career change. In fact, upgrading your job could be just the thing you need.

Exploring the ‘portfolio career’

As life expectancy rises, university fees climb higher and state pensions come under pressure, our working lives are gradually extending into our 60s and beyond. As a 50-year-old today you may have twenty years of your working life left –it’s no longer a question of just counting down the days to retirement. There’s time to fit in a whole other career if it’s what you want to do.

And the phenomenon of the ‘portfolio career’ isn’t restricted to younger people. With years of experience, you could find you still have plenty to offer the job market. What’s more, it could be an opportunity to change direction and pursue a career you’ve always wanted to explore.

Jumping – or being pushed?

We can all agree that the idea of a single job for life is, for most of us, unrealistic. And it’s likely some of your career changes will not be entirely your decision, but your employer’s – whether it’s general downsizing or a reorganisation that makes your post redundant.

If you’re nearing retirement age, your company might offer you early retirement instead of voluntary redundancy. You should give this serious consideration, but be aware that you’ll be making some significant compromises:

  • No redundancy rights or redundancy pay
  • A reduction in your pension (depending on what your employer offers)
  • You can’t claim a State Pension until you’re in your mid-60s, even if your workplace pension starts at 55.

Above all, work out what your income will be and make sure you understand the impact on your pension of both options. This is one area where you should definitely get some professional advice, as pension planning can be complex.

Finding a new job

If you’re going out into the job market, don’t be afraid to sell yourself. It’s time to update your CV and to explore new ways of getting yourself noticed – uploading your CV to online job sites and social media profiles is an efficient way to get your name in front of lots of people quickly.

When you’ve got your new CV, have a look through and be honest with yourself – do you have the required skills and experience for the job you want? If not, what can you do about it? Volunteering, training and part-time work are great ways to fill in any gaps. There may even be training available from your current company.

Get in touch with colleagues from past jobs who might be able to help, even if it’s just to meet up for lunch and share ideas about your future direction. They can often put you in touch with new people or recommend a recruitment consultant. This network is one advantage you have over younger candidates, so make good use of it.

Another tip is to consider moving home to find work. This may sound drastic, but by combining a career change with a move to somewhere cheaper to live, you can make the most of your new wage packet. It might also be a good time to consider downsizing.

Going it alone

If you are considering a change, it might even be a chance to set up on your own. Self-employment is now higher in the UK than at any point in the past 40 years, and the number of self-employed over-65s has doubled since 2009.

In some ways you can be at an advantage as an older entrepreneur. You may have built up retirement funds already, have paid off significant proportions of your mortgage, and be relatively free of longer-term financial worries. Plus you have a lifetime’s experience in your field to draw on, which can be a tremendous asset.

There are of course risks associated with self-employment. Nobody would pretend that starting out in business on your own is an easy or simple task; you’ll have no paid holiday, sick leave or other company benefits, and the buck will stop with you. Of course, you’ll also have no boss – and for some people, that’s more than enough compensation.

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