“Experience never gets old.” At least not according to the movie poster for The Intern.Playing the intern — and the poster child for experience — the aging Robert De Niro quietly becomes an indispensable sage at a startup populated entirely by millennials.
Central to the concept of a second act in you career is the art of reskilling — brushing up on old skills, or learning entirely new ones. First things first, find your tools. You can check out LinkedIn Learning (which offers a free trial) where I will soon have my own course — they offer thousands of courses that allow for people of any age to find the skills they need to succeed.
Below I’ve listed 5 tips on reskilling for an encore career — all while remaining relevant, making a difference, and making a living. After all, De Niro didn’t need to worry about the dinero, but most of us do.
1. Be humble and hungry to learn. As you grow in your career, learning can take on many different forms. Sometimes it means going back to school — for a degree, a certificate, or to fill in a gap. It can also mean taking online courses, listening to your peers, and watching videos or webinars.
No matter your style and stage of life, it’s important to remain a lifelong learner. And you can always find resources to match your lifestyle and learning needs. For example, if your daily life is on-the-go and you need a quick tip or insight during the day, there’s micro-learning, the new buzzword for bite-sized learning (e.g. watching videos on your lunch break).
2. Don’t worry about learning everything. People often wonder if it’s necessary to learn a specific new skill (social media marketing, Excel, you name it) to stay in the game. The better question is what do you need to learn to do a specific job?
Once you figure out what you want to do, a great starting point is to ask people in that job what it takes to get there. You can also check out online resources like LinkedIn Learning paths, which compile playlists of related video courses on a specific topic or career track.
3. Ask for help. All career transitions take longer than you think, and most are filled with periods of frustration and disappointment. To stay motivated, build a team for support.
Your team can include a trusted friend who becomes your buddy or accountability partner, meeting weekly for a walk or coffee. You could hire a coach. You could even create your own encore transition group, with a few people working on similar transitions. The Encore group on LinkedIn is filled with people looking for or moving into encore carers (or working to make encore careers possible for others). It’s a great place to find some online support.
4. Find a millennial mentor. As we pass 40 or 50, many of us will have younger bosses — young enough to be our kids. Time to get comfortable with the idea and appreciate what people of all ages have to offer. Better yet, why not recruit a few younger mentors?
Younger mentors can keep you grounded in today’s culture, teach you what they’ve learned from a set of very different life experiences, and help you work more comfortably with other colleagues. Of course, every mentorship goes both ways, so you’ll be sharing what you know, too.
5. Donate your time. Whether you have a full-time job or are between gigs, find ways to give your time to causes you care about. Nonprofits and other mission-focused organizations need help — raising money, designing collateral, running events, mentoring students — and if you’re strategic, these activities can make a difference in the world while also helping you gain new skills, try out new kinds of work settings, and make useful contacts. And if you’re eager to move into mission-focused work, giving yourself away is a given. One tip: Make sure to list your volunteer roles on your LinkedIn profile. (According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 42% of hiring managers said they view volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience.)
Looking to jumpstart your encore career? These LinkedIn Learning courses can help:
About Marci Alboher:
Marci is a leading authority on the changing face of work and a Vice President at Encore.org, an innovation hub tapping the talent of the 50+ population.