Don’t give up on your career after 50

The period from 50 to 70 is a time to take stock and to give back, but it shouldn’t be a time to stay in a job that you hate waiting for retirement, says jobs expert James Reed.


Stuck in a rut, but afraid to move on?

A book suggests the later stages of your career are the ideal time to take stock of the experience and skills you have accumulated.

It’s a period when that added perspective gained over the years can be put to good use, argues jobs expert James Reed in his book Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career.

He says the period between 50 and 70 is more about what you can contribute and give back, for instance, through mentoring or donating time and money in other ways. It may also be a period when you are running things, whether at work or in the community.

Reed says it’s important to keep a positive mindset and to maintain your health through regular exercise and attention to your diet. Reducing your hours or taking on voluntary work are both possibilities.

He adds that it is vital not to give up and stay in a job that makes you unhappy because you think you are nearing the end of your working career, particularly given we are all likely to be working longer in the future.

He states: “Please don’t go into retirement regretting that you didn’t take action sooner – fifty is a perfectly good age to start a second career.”

Commenting on fears of ageism, he states that, in his experience, companies are not so much ageist as ‘energist’. “What they want are individuals with commitment, presence and application, rather than those who are the ‘right’ age,” he says.

Reed suggests three challenges people in their 50s-70s can set themselves to ensure they stay positive and make the most of their experience:

  • Find someone, or some people, to mentor through the early stages of their career
  • If you’re not happy at work do something about it rather than procrastinate
  • Ask yourself if you have relevant experience to contribute to your community or colleagues and find a way to share it.

And for those who find themselves facing redundancy he adds: “It’s going to be OK. Your achievements will follow you wherever you go – you just need to gather your wits and plan your next steps.”

A fulfilling career

The book is divided into 12 chapters and is a step-by-step guide to finding a fulfilling career, whatever happens along the way. It all starts, says Reed, with knowing yourself, what you love doing at work, what you put off doing, what interests you and what kinds of people you like being with. Then consider what you value and makes you feel most fulfilled.

The next step is to get yourself out there meeting people, creating the opportunity for interesting conversations, whether that is through attending events, joining online professional networks or volunteering.

Next is finding out where your skills can be of most advantage. That means identifying fast-growing industries or sectors or job roles such as Fintech, artificial intelligence or mental wellbeing, through reading, keeping your eye on the ball and talking to people. You might not be great at technology, but all sectors have a wide range of jobs available. Moreover, there are some jobs that are always in demand, like health and education.

Reed has advice on all the practical issues around changing your career, but the emphasis is on finding something that is meaningful to you, has a good fit when it comes to culture and allows you to do what you enjoy and try new things.

He concludes that everyone deserves a career that makes them happy, but that that won’t come about simply by wishing for it.

*Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career by James Reed, price £13.99.

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