New opportunity – changing career for over 50s

Setting up your own business or changing careers at 50 may keep you healthy, says Dr Lynda Shaw.
changing career for over 50s

Whoever said age discrimination in the work place is dead? Changing career for over 50s people is not something that is taken lightly. If you’ve ever considered consulting, self employment or starting your own business – there has never been a better time than in your 50s. You have the skills, the contacts and keep your health. at a time when the UK still faces rife ageism in the workplace.

The UK is seeing a wave of new businesses set up by those over 50, who have faced the difficulties of finding a new job due to redundancy.

According to research from over-50 business starter support charity The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise (PRIME) out of the 11 million people between 50 and 64, around 3.2 million (33%) are economically inactive with many facing the added pressures of paying the mortgage, saving for retirement and looking after families, which could include children still living at home, elderly parents, or even both.

On the flip side nearly half the self-employed population is over 50, and one in six new businesses started in the UK are set up by post-half-centurions. Furthermore businesses started by people over 50 have a 70% chance of surviving their first five years – compared with only a 28% survival rate for those younger than them.

Changing career for over 50s

Changing career for over 50s is a naturally opportunity to reinvent ourselves. We are in our prime to try something different, perhaps a job we always wanted to do. We have life experience, strong relationships, and the children have grown up, so it is often the perfect time to reinvest in ourselves.

We are also more capable and knowledgeable than ever, and can contribute enormously to the economy, community and society as a whole, in something that we might be more passionate about than the job we may have been doing previously. More than ever, many of us are now living to 100 years so why should we be settling for the mundane or stopping work at the half way point? 

I believe this is backed up by the fact that many of us are planning to work into our seventies both because we enjoy working and because we are living longer and need to fund our extra years.

Research shows that as we get older we spend more time talking to people. This means that we are more likely to build relationships that are mutually beneficial in both our private lives and business, resulting in more sales and growth.  

Today, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her career, but this often slows down towards the second half of our working lives because we don’t want to rock the boat and find ourselves unemployed. For workers over 50 years old who need or want to think about other ways to finance themselves and generate social and personal fulfilment, self-employment provides a viable solution.

The fact is that at 50something you have accrued a wealth of knowledge and business and social experience over a long working period.  Setting up a successful company when over 50 instils self-worth and value, financial independence, the chance to use all the skills built up over a lifetime of working, flexibility and the opportunity for a new challenge.  

We know that either losing a job, or early retirement, can cause possible anxiety, isolation, poverty and a sedentary lifestyle.  If you have set up your own business and your work is fulfilling and you are feeling sharp because you are passionate about it, then you are more likely to stay mentally fit and healthy.  Changing career for over 50s should be seen as way to keep us fresh as we are more likely to choose something we really want to do rather than something we just settle for.

For the 50-plus age group, personal referrals and networking continues to be the best way to get new business, but half centurions do need to be up to date in their knowledge of social media and the world of IT to stay ahead.

From my talks with organisations including pension funds and HR professionals, it is apparent that in business there is still the issue of redundancy of older workers with only a small percentage of organizations realising and addressing the problems of this talent loss. Is it any wonder that the 50s plus are leaving their companies in droves and setting up their own businesses before they are pushed?

Don’t allow age to be a barrier 

Focus on the fact that you are an experienced individual with a good track record of success.  You are probably bursting with valuable knowledge for the organisation!

Transfer your skills and strengths

If you’ve been in the same industry for a long time, it can be easy to believe you only know how to do one type of job. Sit down, and scrutinize what you actually do day to day, then analyse which you use every day. This will help you realise how transferable your skillset is, which will make you more confident when deciding on a new career.

Consider self-employment

Maybe the reason you’re dissatisfied with work is due to your frustration in answering to someone else. Becoming self-employed isn’t easy and requires a lot of work, however if you’re motivated enough and are equipped to do so, starting your own business could bring ultimate job satisfaction and flexibility.

Rejection – don’t be put off

It’s very rare for someone to get the first job they go for, you need time to perfect your interview skills and build your confidence (especially if it’s been a while since you last applied for work). If you get a ‘no’ don’t let it diminish your confidence, try and get some feedback, or do a self-evaluation to try and find things to improve on. You can learn from every experience you undertake.

Take a leap of faith

Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from trying to do something which makes you happy. Although, you may have commitments such as mortgages and families, your happiness is essential to enjoy the finer things in life. If you believe that you have the ability, knowledge and determination to achieve a goal, don’t let anything hold you back.

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Last modified: June 18, 2021

Written by 4:30 pm News & Views