Second Careers - Second Chances For Seniors

Today’s Canadians are healthier and living longer. So it’s probably not surprising that many are choosing to extend their work lives past the traditional age 65.

“More and more, people are considering retirement to be a departure from a long-held position rather than a full stop,” says Chartered Accountant Eric Bornstein, Partner and former Managing Partner at Soberman LLP, Chartered Accountants in Toronto. “A second career can be a great opportunity, both for personal fulfillment and greater financial security.”

Making the most of that second-career opportunity depends on both your expectations and how well you’ve prepared yourself for it, Mr. Bornstein says. Here are a few points that he suggests you consider as you take a second chance to find that dream job.

Start planning well before your exit date – The prospect of retirement and launching a new career raises more than financial issues. Mr. Bornstein suggests that you consider where you live, and whether your present home can accommodate you as you age – particularly if you have plans to work from home post-retirement. If you’re considering launching some kind of home-based business, will you have enough space and the right physical set-up to allow for it?

Get good at what you like to do – For some, it may be more about acknowledging what they don’t like or don’t want to do. Be prepared to experiment and give it some time, Mr. Bornstein recommends, especially if, as he puts it, you’re “walking without a compass”. Look for a second career that is meaningful to you personally, and commit to getting any additional training, knowledge or credentials you need. If you’d like to stay with your current employer and/or profession, see if you can rejig your job description to focus more on the parts of the work that you particularly enjoy.

Alert your organization to challenges and difficulties – It’s not just the people, Mr. Bornstein says. Many companies are unequipped to deal with the pending retirement of their skilled, experienced workers. Others don’t know what to do with their older employees who want to stay on, even when they’re able to leave. Companies can truly benefit from retaining older workers, especially if both groups are flexible and willing to break out of their comfort zones a little. Talk to the decision-makers (senior management, human resources, etc.) at work about what they can do to help you and others evaluate options and prepare for change.

Take all the help you can get – Companies should offer career counselling that addresses retirement when employees are in their 30s and 40s, Mr. Bornstein says. Consider using a consulting firm that specializes in helping people make successful career transitions, or even start your own networking and support group. Pull together like-minded individuals who can pool their collective talents and resources to support each other – and their companies – during this important transition. 

Don’t be afraid of the unknown – For many who have been successful in their first careers, the thought of embarking on something new can be daunting. “Give yourself a chance to learn and adapt,” advises Mr. Bornstein.

Let your personal timeline drive your choice. For some, income from employment after age 65 is a must. Others want to blaze new trails or simply continue doing work they still enjoy. Whatever you decide, let your own agenda, lifestyle and sheer joie de vivre guide your decision about a second career. You may just find that the good life begins at 65!

Brought to you by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

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