Are you ready to start a new career but afraid to wade into the job market at middle age, or even near retirement age?
Freelancing, consulting or starting your own business could be the perfect way to launch the career of your dreams at any age. This flexible work is also a great way for Baby Boomers to earn extra income that can carry you into retirement from your “day job”. It can be a tough transition if you’ve been an employee for years, but here are some tips to get you started:
1. Create wiggle-room in your current job
If you’re working now, you’re likely spending more time than necessary doing work you don’t like in your current position. Start your transition by trimming the fat. Figure out what tasks should be completed by subordinates or other departments, and get them off your plate.
Fewer hours spent at the office or stressing about work when you get home will leave you with more time to experiment in your new field. Your focus should be to start a new career!
2. Plan for being broke
Launching your own business means you’ll be responsible for many expenses currently covered by your employer (like taxes and insurance), and you’ll need some time to work your income level up to match what you currently make.
You can prepare for unexpected expenses and a reduced income by taking care of major expenses now. Upgrade your computer, buy a new car, and pay ahead on your mortgage while you can still rely on your current income. Save a little as backup for emergencies. Slowly cut unnecessary spending, like excessive eating out, expensive shopping sprees, or high-end anything when you could get by with the lower-end version.
To start a new career, prepare yourself for life at a lower income, you can remove the financial fear that comes with quitting your day job and holds so many people back from following their dreams.
3. Add bits of your new career into your current routine
You can work towards your new freelancing career even before you leave your old job — in fact, this is advised by most career experts. Start a side hustle, working with a few clients and gigs in the time you’ve freed up with Step No. 1, so you can replace your income and transition your work and lifestyle slowly.
Additionally, use this time to educate yourself about freelancing and your new industry. Take business courses through a local college or online. Read blogs and books on the topic, like Alexis Grant’s Turn Your Side Hustle into a Full Time Business. Network with people in your industry and other freelancers through social media and networking events, like Meetups, in your area.
This commitment to your side hustle will probably take over your free time and other hobbies for a while, but it will pay off when you’re able to leave your day job behind, start a new career, and do just what you love.
4. Freshen up your resume and see what’s missing
Update your summary and objectives to match your new goals and appeal to the types of clients and gigs you want to land. Then go through your experience. If you’ve been in the job market for years, but in an unrelated industry, consider the skills that cross over into your dream job, and highlight those on your new resume.
Don’t be afraid to start a new career, take the leap into a totally new industry! Your “unrelated” experience can be an asset, not a hindrance, as long as you know how to use it to your advantage. If you’ve been in retail management and want to be a freelance writer, for example, highlight the leadership and organizational skills you’ve gained. If you’ve been in sales and want to be a freelance web designer, use your salesmanship to sell yourself to clients, then to help them create the perfect websites to sell their products.
Finally, check your resume for skills or experience that are conspicuously missing. Focus on studying and practicing those skills and seeking internships or pro-bono work that will help you fill in the experience.
5. Know what’s holding you back, and let go of those fears
The biggest thing stopping anyone from pursuing their dream career is simple inaction. You have the passion, and you have the ability to acquire all the skills and knowledge you need to do what you want. Hurdles in your life may make the transition difficult — a family who demands your time, a day job that leaves you exhausted, a mortgage that insists on being paid each month. But none of these makes your dream impossible, and this may just be the perfect time to take that leap and start a new career!
What hurdles have you faced starting a new career? Can you add any tips?