Late career

Expert advice: Think about the kind of late career you want

If you're counting the years until retirement, time will pass very slowly. Instead, think about what motivates you at work – even if you're in the autumn of your career.

By Career Counsellor Morten Esmann

People start thinking about the end of their working lives at different times.

Some start thinking about it already in their early fifties, even though they have a good 20 years left on the labour market. Others wait until their late sixties and carry on working without giving retirement a thought.

But age is not the most important factor. No matter where you are in your working life, you should reflect on your situation and on what you want, and these questions don’t get less important in your late career. This is because our life situation and working conditions are constantly changing, and this affects our preferences in terms of working hours, salary, challenges and responsibilities.

Unfortunately, we sometimes meet members who have gone into autopilot in their late career and who think: I only hope that I can keep my job for the next ten years until I retire. This can end up being a long ten years because these people do not actively opt for elements that can enrich a working life.

In broad terms, we go to work to develop professionally, rise through the ranks, gain more freedom, make more money or to find the right work-life balance. A good point of departure is to ask yourself what is most important for your well-being and motivation.

It's perfectly alright if the answer is a sense of security or the opportunity to work fewer hours, but it's unfortunate if you only glance at the benefits in your employer's senior policy and don't ask yourself whether three senior days (employer-paid days off, usually for people over 60) a year and flexible working hours are most important to you, or whether you'd rather develop professionally.

Is changing jobs in your late career risky?

If you know what you want out of your working life, it's easier for you to answer one of the questions going round in many people's minds after they have turned 55: Do I have the courage to change to a new job, or should I prioritise security?

There's no doubt that you're running a risk by changing jobs. You don't know whether you'll fit into the new position, or whether you'll have to look for another job again after a short while.

It's also slightly more difficult to look for a job if you've turned 55 or 60 – depending on the industry – but this primarily applies for those who've been terminated. On the other hand, there are no indications that it's more difficult to find a job if you've kept your knowledge up-to-date and if you look for a new job while you're still employed. So, you shouldn't let your insecurities influence you too much if you need to change jobs to maintain job satisfaction.

If you want advice for the difficult job change, you're always welcome to contact IDA's career counselling for a personal session on your situation.

Contact IDA’s career counsellors

Be careful not to make yourself redundant

Many people want to slow down in the last years of their working life, and this can be a good idea instead of slogging away and then suddenly stopping from one day to the next.

However, it's important that you plan your phase-out from the labour market, so you don't make yourself redundant.

Often when an employee approaches retirement age, he or she is perceived as someone with one foot out the door and therefore it’s best not to include them in development projects or tasks that span several years.

This has nothing to do with ill will. On the contrary, it's often a matter of misunderstood consideration and a manager thinking that: this will be difficult and time-consuming, and Hansen would probably prefer not being part of this in his last years before retirement.

If you want to avoid being left with all the operational tasks, it's therefore a good idea to talk to your manager and tell him or her exactly what tasks you would like to keep and what you would like to let go of.

You can also continue to develop, even if you only have a couple of years left on the labour market. There was a time when you went on a course to prepare for the next ten years of your career. Now, although the shelf life of continuing training is down to two or three years, you can still ask for continuing training with a clear conscience. Many senior employees already know this today, because they've got used to the thought of lifelong learning.

Perhaps this is also one of the reasons that older employees choose to continue working, even though they could retire. And who knows; if you continue to develop and enjoy working life, you may want to stick around a little longer?