If you're looking to change your career after the age of 50, or work after retirement, you definitely have your work cut out for you. The economy is slumping, few companies are hiring, and, unfortunately, your age puts you at a disadvantage. Of course, no one can legally discriminate against you - but if you don't think there's a certain amount of unstated bias, you're kidding yourself.
However, all hope is not lost. By being persistent and smart, and by following a handful of important steps, you can still overcome these challenges and land your dream job.
1. Get Your Financial House in Order First
Before you seriously consider changing careers, it's important to have your finances in tip-top shape, as a change in career could very well result in a pay cut. Pay off your credit card balances, create an emergency fund with at least six months' worth of living expenses, and determine how to reduce your spending should your income be reduced.
2. Don't Downplay Your Age
During the job interview process, don't try to hide your age. It's as plain as day on your resume, and you can even proactively bring it up in the discussion. Point out that your experience and transferable skills are likely to outweigh anything a youngster can bring to the table. There are many benefits to hiring older workers after all.
3. Get Certified
You may already have a very strong resume, but you can further strengthen it by adding a certification to it. In many instances, becoming certified in an industry has equal value to other educational accomplishments. Search online for a course or program you can complete in your new field, and list it on your resume. In some cases, online certificate courses are available, as well as financial assistance.
4. Create a Network in Your New Industry
One of the best ways to find new leads on employment opportunities and gain entrance into a new industry is to establish and improve your network. Go to the website Meetup.com and see if there's a group meeting locally in your desired field. Attend the meeting with business cards in hand, and do your best to offer something of value to whomever you make contact with.
5. Don't Quit Your Current Position Before You Find New Work
No matter how bad you're itching to change jobs, don't ever quit your current position before you find something. You'll have enough on your hands learning the ropes of a new field; you don't want to throw financial uncertainty into that mix.
6. Start Your Own Business
Another route when it comes to entering a new field is to simply start your own business. A great option for older folks is to start a consulting business in your current field. Sure, you won't technically be changing careers, but working for yourself presents a great deal of benefits. You can set your own schedule, choose your clients, and best of all, answer to no one.
Changing careers is exciting for anyone, but it's especially enjoyable if you've worked in the same industry for a long period of time. However, don't let your exuberance make you take your eye off the ball in terms of your retirement savings. Make sure you're diversified in the proper fashion for someone approaching retirement, and continue to review your portfolio going forward. Changing careers can bring a lot of benefits - just don't waste them by failing to stay on top of your retirement savings.
What additional tips can you offer to those who wish to change careers after 50?
David Bakke is a small business owner and blogs about careers, investing, and personal development on Money Crashers Personal Finance.