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Baby Boomers and Career Changes

written by: Andrea Campbell•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 12/15/2010

The first generation that was described as a “pig in the python” is not going to stray from the job market. Baby Boomer career changes are likely to happen for close to a majority of this age group. They may choose to mentor someone, turn to a nonprofit for heart’s sake, but they will reinvent work.

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    Who’s Here?

    bizsmileopt They were born between 1946 and 1964. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that in 2010 there are 18.5 million boomers ages 45 to 49 in the labor force, as compared to 14.7 in 1995, and 16.8 million versus 10.6 million in the 50 to 54-years-old range. (Reference 1.)

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    employeesopt Labor statistics also say that the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom held 11 jobs from age 18 to age 44, and tat more than three-fifths of those jobs were held from ages 18 to 27. What does this mean for boomers? It says: you’ve done it before, so just tap into your inner need for change because you can facilitate Baby Boomer career changes.

    It’s all about transitioning to new careers, but a better way to describe it may be career reinvention.

    Since some of us will be working until we’re pushing up daisies, what is needed to stay in the working day game?

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    By its very nature, the word "transition" means that something undergoes a change and passes from one state to another. That can be taken to mean that boomers will have to recreate themselves to find new opportunities. "How is that done," you ask?

    Boomers will:

    • Transfer to jobs with new skill sets by finding out what is transferable

    Transferable skills such as communication, problem-solving and analysis are always in demand. LaWanda Woods, from John Tyler Community College, provides an illustration of transferable skills in this example of resume writing:

    For Career Changers: Accomplished administrator seeking to leverage extensive background in personnel management, recruitment, employee relations and benefits administration in an entry-level human resources position. Extremely motivated for career change goal and eager to contribute to a company's HR division.

    • Master resume writing and learn what today’s red flags and taboos are:

    Spelling and grammatical errors, too much information, outdated skills such as: “typewriter efficiency,” and anything else that dates you should be removed from resumes.

    Boomers will still have to execute, figure out industry trends, work long hours. Remember, it’s about re-education, and it is a job after all.

    • Use a network of colleagues, friends and professional organizations to locate opportunities:

    Keep in mind that social media is necessary, and is more so than you thought. Boomer workers will need to know marketing, PR, communications, branding, project management, customer service, analytics, etc. Using Twitter and LinkedIn are not enough.

    • Teach, train or coach:

    Mature workers may also have to learn to moonlight at another job until theirs takes off

    • Find out which jobs are going to be most affected by Baby Boomer career changes and fill the gap.

    Still, in terms of Baby Boomer career changes, many will choose to work for themselves.

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    Gauging the labor force effects of retiring Baby-Boomers

    Resume writing reference:

    "Occupational Replacement Needs,” in Occupational. Projections and Training Data, Bulletin 2521 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May. 2000), pp. 71–90.