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Tips for Encore Careers in Portland: Use It or Lose It!

Posted on by Laura Schlafly

Encore Careers

With the advent of 20 to 30 additional years of life, today’s 50+ men and women are determined to add meaningful life to those years. To remain self-reliant and to give back to their communities and their world is increasingly more important. In Portland there are many opportunities to find this kind of work in retirement or later in life. Here are some key tips for Oregon job seekers and “encore-preneurs.”

1) Refuse to decline. Pay significant attention to the health of the brain – in addition to supporting a healthy body. Learn more about “brain awareness” at the OHSU Brain Institute.

2) Be a lifelong learner. Recognize the benefits of being flexible and adaptable. Accept new technology and learn new skills. Ride the “age wave” with relevant courses at Portland Community College .

3) Wake up your sleeping entrepreneur. Boomers are becoming business owners at a faster pace than any other business segment. According to a 2009 Kaufman Foundation Report, baby boomers in the 55 – 64 age group are starting approximately 10,000 new businesses each month. Portland’s Mercy Corps NW and SCORE have mentoring programs and classes for small business start-ups.

4) Look beyond Portland — go virtual. Downsizing, outsourcing and telecommuting have driven many corporations to go virtual, so they may not do their own production, marketing, information processing, or distribution. Encore-preneurs can use these principles in their own small, nimble businesses – think of your own specialty expertise and think niche. Above all, choose to do what you enjoy! Read “Boomers into Business” by Lisa Orrell for more ideas. 

5) Leverage professional development. Shift from one-dimensional thinking to a matrix of ideas and professional relationships. Value your time as a precious commodity. Skip in-person and go virtual when appropriate.

6) Make technology your friend. Occasionally I find myself in a conversation with a baby boomer who insists that it is too late or too annoying to learn, understand, jump into, and profit from social media. These same people may believe having their own website or blog is out of their reach. This self-imposed generation gap is a huge barrier to career success. Read Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies by Portlander, Joshua Waldman. A question to baby boomers: “Are you driving your own career bus, or are you just looking out the back window while the rest of the world speeds by?”

7) Communicate across generations. Traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation Xers, millennials – all three are now in the workplace and their different communication styles can be a management challenge. Be aware and adaptable.

8) Focus on life purpose. If you are 60 today, maybe you have 25 or more, good years left. People look back 25 years to when they were 35 and say “That happened fast!” They may even ask any or all of the following questions: Are the next 25 years going to happen that fast? And if they are, when am I going to do something that matters? What is my purpose? When am I going to live my best life?

9) Expect happiness – jump for joy. Work to feel healthy, engage fully and do good work!

Have you begun your encore career? What strategies have work for you in the workplace?

Laura Schlafly
Laura Schlafly is the founder of Career Choices with Laura, a coaching practice where she specializes in guiding midlife professionals through “career detours” and to investigate –then launch – “second act” careers after they reach 50. She is also co-author of "Roadmap to Success." You can contact Laura at or by emailing her at
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