USAA Tips: 7 tips for creating a purposeful 2nd career

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

There are three major categories of workers in the United States: (1) Employed, (2) Unemployed, and (3) Not in Labor Force. In the United States, the unemployment rate has fallen consistently for the past several years. The unemployment rate is low for nearly all military veteran groups; however, one statistic, the Not in Labor Force, is particularly high for older military veterans.

The Not in Labor Force metric is for people that are still of working age, not in school, not retired, not working, and not looking for work. For military veterans aged 55 to 64, continuing to work in the years prior to retirement greatly aids in an effective retirement and helps military veterans remain engaged in society.

Here are 7 tips for creating a purposeful second career:

  1. Find something you enjoy which provides purpose. Most military veterans miss the sense of camaraderie, focus and purpose the military provides. The military is only one possible career avenue that provides purpose. Teaching, public safety, federal service, civil service, local government, and entrepreneurship are other areas that allow people to work effectively as older workers and instill a sense of purpose. If you are in a job that does not provide the sense of purpose, then find something that does.

  2. Don’t work for a bad boss. We have all had a bad boss. Bad bosses isolate themselves, don’t share information, take the credit for hard work, do not coach employees to success, do not protect their team from executive anger, and seek every advantage for themselves and not their team. It is really difficult to outlast a bad boss. My advice, do not try. If you have a bad boss, leave the company or leave the boss for an internal job move.

  3. Take any opportunity for new training. Staying current on skills is critical. If you are offered training in leadership, new products, new software, new technology, or a new role that will force you to learn new skills, then take the role. Education is also your own responsibility so read the newspaper, industry journals, or anything else that will help you succeed.

  4. Teach the next generation leadership. Fulfilling a spoken or unspoken role to teach new employees leadership is a great way to stay and become inspired. Take the time to listen, observe, coach, mentor, and teach a new generation how to lead.

  5. Take initiative even in small things. Find ways to take the initiative and invent new ways to perform old tasks. The process of innovation, even in a seemingly simple task, builds and maintains initiative and interest in a job. Initiative is also a great way to be recognized by bosses and peers alike.

  6. Work with and motivate other veterans. Helping veterans is a great way to find purpose, motivation, display leadership, and help someone else who needs it. Veterans need help with resumes, networking, job applications, interviewing, and translating military skills to civilian use. Even if you only meet with a veteran one time and help them, you have made a big difference.

  7. Save, invest and reduce costs. Your last working years before retirement are critical to earn, reduce your costs, and save. In a sentence, you must earn, cut costs, and save simultaneously. Working just to spend more or working to not save does nothing to help prepare for your retirement. Retirement must be a time of low costs and moderate, controlled personal spending. Prepare for retirement by cost cutting, more saving, and earning.

If you are an older worker, stay working because the country, employers, and fellow employees need you. Find work that gives you purpose and find ways to contribute, take initiative, continue to learn, and teach others how to be good leaders.