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Second-Career Missteps

Don't make these mistakes when launching your next career


AARP The Bulletin,  January/February 2018

“There’s no right way to launch a second career,” says Marci Alboher, vice president at and author of The Encore Career Handbook. “But there are several wrong ways.” Here are some common missteps you’ll need to avoid.

You budget unrealistically

You wouldn’t take a dream vacation without a plan to pay for it. Look at your career journey in the same way. “Make sure you fund your transition time,” Alboher says. “Assume it’ll take at least six months. If you have financial wiggle room, everything will be easier.”

woman leaping over a valley

Getty Images

Considering taking the leap into a second career? Making a long-term plan will help you land on your feet.

You panic early

I freaked out at month three of my own transition to a freelance life, even though I’d budgeted for a yearlong transition, and took a full-time job that didn’t align with what I wanted to do. Luckily, I was smart enough to correct my mistake before it was too late. “Take a test-and-learn approach,” Alboher advises. “Don’t expect this to be a linear process — it almost always takes longer than you think. Assume every detour will teach you something, and potentially lead you where you need to be.”

You 'used to be somebody'

“Don’t undersell who you’ve been,” Alboher says. “At the same time, don’t get attached to it. The sooner you start living in your new world, the sooner you’ll make connections that propel you forward.” If you’re moving to a less powerful position because it provides more flexibility, admit it.

You’re a closed book

The world moves fast — if you want to succeed, especially in a new industry, you need to keep up, and show up, both in person and online. “You don’t want to come across as old school,” Alboher says. “It’s important to demonstrate a curiosity, a hunger for learning. Show your relevancy.

— Bill Phillips