Positioning Clients for Success in Their Encore Careers

By Norma Dávila

Today’s career paths follow more zig-zag than linear patterns, and as a result, job seekers are searching for new opportunities during later life stages. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, the number of workers ages 65 and older has increased by 144% in the past 20 years (Maurer, 2023).

HR Zone defines encore careers as “jobs taken between retirement and old age that balance remuneration, personal meaning, and community and societal impact” (HR Zone, n.d., para. 1). These career changes later in life enable people to keep using their skills and pursuing their interests (Fuse Workforce Management, n.d.).

The Emergence of Encore Careers

Encore careers are becoming more popular among workers who are willing and able to work after their retirement (Intriago, 2021). Workers are seeking encore careers because of changes in population trends, career paths, retirement definitions, financial situations, and social needs (Vantage Aging, 2019).  However, organizations vary in their readiness and openness to welcome these workers.

The expertise of career practitioners gains additional relevance as increasing numbers of older adults make decisions about what they want to do in the future. These clients not only face the typical challenges of job seekers, but also may experience additional levels of insecurity and self-doubt associated with leaving their comfort zones. Practitioners can help them identify potential workplace challenges and emotional roadblocks and provide solutions for moving forward.

Strategies for Clients Considering Encore Careers

The following is a list of concerns common to clients contemplating encore careers, along with some strategies that practitioners can take to support them.

Expectations – Clarifying what clients want to achieve through an encore career is fundamental for an effective strategy and action plan. Beliefs related to time, money and skill development may be different than when the client first entered the workforce. Being realistic about the alignment between what clients want and which organizations are ready to welcome their contributions is critical for their success. 

Ageism – Acknowledging that ageism exists is the first step to addressing it and the emotions that it can evoke among clients. Typical ageism concerns surround technology and self-esteem.

Identity – Individuals who have allowed their careers and their roles to define them may face challenges articulating who they are when transitioning to an encore career. Clients are often unaware of what their strengths are, even after years of use.

Leadership – The new workplace demands different leadership styles from those of the past.  

Flexibility – Adapting to a changing environment and navigating organizational politics as a newcomer may present challenges, especially for clients familiar with more structured and predictable working environments.

Learning – Today’s workforce demands learning, re-learning, and unlearning skills. Some organizations sponsor reverse mentoring, where younger workers share knowledge with older workers, as one way to capitalize on the strengths of different generations (Vozza, 2022).  

Istock 1186109757 Credit Inside Creative House

Positioned For Success

With proper planning and strategizing, encore careers can be a good option for older workers. By helping clients focus on their strengths, modify their expectations, and have open conversations about the current job market, career practitioners can position them for success.   



Fuse Workforce Management. (n.d.). What employers need to know about encore careers. https://www.fuseworkforce.com/blog/what-employers-need-to-know-about-encore-careers

HRZone. (n.d.). What is an encore career? https://www.hrzone.com/hr-glossary/what-is-an-encore-career

Intriago, J. (2021, May 3). Forging an encore career as a senior. Seasons. https://www.seasons.com/forging-an-encore-career-as-a-senior/2492339/

Maurer, R. (2023, March 16). Older workers are ‘unretiring.’ What can employers do to welcome them back? SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/Pages/Older-Workers-Unretiring-What-Can-Employers-Do-Welcome-Back-Retirees-Boomerangs-Mature-Workers.aspx

Vantage Aging. (2019, Jan. 2). 5 reasons people choose an encore career. https://vantageaging.org/blog/reasons-choose-encore-career/

Vozza, S. (2022, Feb. 9). The power of reverse mentoring. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/people-managers/pages/reverse-mentoring.aspx


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Norma Davilla

Norma Dávila, Ph.D., CPRW, CPCC, is a fully bilingual/bicultural developmental psychologist and certified career management coach and résumé writer. She has more than 15 years of experience in handling changes across the lifecycle and over 10 years providing career management services. She specializes in addressing the unique needs of clients who are in their mid-careers, exploring new fields, and in senior roles in Puerto Rico and stateside. Norma is the co-author of three books on employee engagement, succession planning, and employee onboarding. She may be reached at normadavila47@gmail.com or at linkedin.com/in/norma-davila

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Ray Giese   on Tuesday 08/01/2023 at 09:38 PM

Nice perspectives regarding encore careers. I am an example. After 35 years in corporate sales I decided to “retire”, become certified in career counseling, and help high schoolers and young adults achieve grater career clarity and satisfaction. There is need for all talents - why put them on the shelf? Let everyone share in your expertise!

Norma Davila   on Thursday 08/03/2023 at 09:52 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience with your encore career, Ray! We need to hear from professionals like you who have decided to stay active in the workforce in a different way.



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.