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Is an Encore Career Your Next Journey?

Debbie Dalton, AARP California
Debbie Dalton, AARP California

Guest post by Debbie Dalton, AARP California Associate State Director of Outreach

I remember when my Dad retired at age 62. He spent his time resting, reading, watching sports, and enjoying his family. I grew up thinking that retiring at 62 could be a real possibility for me.

Now that I have reached that age, retirement (or as I like to call it, “my next journey”) has changed meaning for me. I’m not ready to think about kicking back; instead, I’m continuing to use my experience in a fulfilling way. You might consider my work with AARP an encore career.

Encore careers combine personal fulfillment, social impact, and ongoing income, allowing people to put their passion to work for the greater good. People my age want resources to help them navigate these new waters. They're asking, "How can I find or create work that will be meaningful and significant to me at this stage of my life?" At the Huffington Post, Marci Alboher shares five ways to start an encore career , emphasizing that it isn’t “the same old work,” but rather a career that “may prove to be more significant than what came before.”

Many boomers are seeking – and finding – encore careers in the nonprofit sector. It may surprise you to learn that the nonprofit sector is the third largest labor force behind retail and manufacturing. In fact, the nonprofit sector has seen “ a remarkable 10 year record of job growth despite two recessions,” while private sector jobs declined during the same period.

Let’s say you’re ready to find an encore career with a nonprofit. Where do you start? First, do your research: explore your possibilities, prepare for your transition, and then find the career that’s right for you. I’m a fan of Alboher’s Encore Career Handbook, which covers information like how much you need to make, managing networking and social media, the realities of today’s job market, and the pros and cons of going back to school.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Kerry Hannon, AARP’s Jobs Expert, devotes an entire chapter to nonprofits in her book Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy ... And Pays the Bills. She’s also written for on the top jobs in the nonprofit sector in an article in which she also shares the relevant qualifications that would help candidates make the leap from previous jobs.

Finally, if you haven’t already started exploring Life Reimagined from AARP, don’t miss out. Life Reimagined is a powerful online resource that helps guide you through change. You’ll connect with others like you, finding friends and mentors, plus learning about tools, articles, and books that can help you reflect, explore, and make things happen. And of course, there’s also  Life Reimagined for Work, which focuses specifically on helping experienced professionals connect to satisfying careers.

The real possibilities are endless for those exploring encore careers. There are millions of us “ breaking down barriers, writing the rules as [we] go, and paving the way for future generations to follow.” It’s an exciting time for me here at AARP, and I’m still looking forward to what’s next. How about you?

Today’s post is the most recent in our Work@50+ Wednesday bi-weekly series.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on the latest in the series, as well as our events throughout the state. On Twitter, check out #workat50plus for the latest research and articles on the topic.

Debbie has been with AARP since 2005; she served as the lead for last November's Work@50+ event. She has extensive experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, working with older adults, managing staff and volunteers, developing programs, and speaking to groups large and small. Debbie holds an M.A. in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton and a B.A. in Journalism from Arizona State University. Follow her on Twitter: @DebbieDalton_.


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