Many Americans assume they will be continuously employed and their wages will rise every year until they retire. The reality, however, is that many workers lose their career jobs earlier than anticipated.
Work situations can change for many reasons including layoffs, family needs, or health issues. During uncertain times, it is important to rethink what your retirement years may look like—perhaps it’s waiting longer to retire, or taking on a new career when you do.
Preparing for Job Loss
You can prepare for a period of unemployment or job loss in the following ways:
- Work as long as you are able to, full time or part time, even at lower wages. Every year you delay tapping into your retirement savings gives them another year to grow.
- Delay starting a company pension benefit for as long as possible. Like Social Security, every year you wait results in higher monthly benefit payments for life. Your pension benefit may need to take into account your actual Social Security earnings, rather than assumed benefits. Be sure to have your company verify any benefit reduction due to Social Security offsets.
- Take all the training opportunities your company offers for your current job. Stay current and relevant in your industry, but don’t be afraid to explore entirely different career options—particularly if you’re worried about the long-term future of your company or industry. Take online or evening courses to prepare yourself for a late-in-life career change.
Dealing with Job Loss
If you are recently unemployed, follow these steps to reinvent yourself and land a new job:
- If it has been awhile since you have been in the workforce, go online for helpful job hunting information. Start with free material on websites such as Next Avenue.
- Be active on social media sites for both personal and professional networking. Communicating through these sites with old friends and former colleagues can help pave the way for late career changes and hiring opportunities.
- Don’t overlook your own hobbies as a potential source of income in retirement—there’s nothing like being paid for what you love to do, regardless of the amount earned.