forbesYou don’t have to spend $60,000 and a year at Harvard or Stanford to find a new vocation with meaning. Here are some steps to take–preferably before you retire from your old job. Here are my seven tips to DIY second-act planning:
– Run the numbers. Can you afford to move to a lower-paying sector and perhaps to a less senior job in it? Will it require lifestyle changes?

– Plan ahead. If you want a new career at 60, start working on it at 55.

– Focus on the skills you have–be it in finance, IT or sales. Odds are they can be used by not-for-profits, too. You might be able to hone them for the nonprofit sector with just a course or two, e.g., accounting for not-for-profits. (Seton Hall University maintains a searchable list of nonprofit management courses across the country.)

– Volunteer. Find an organization or two whose mission appeals to you and raise your hand. Offer to manage a project. Do pro bono consulting. Serve on a not-for-profit board or boards. Participate in charity auctions and 10k races–you’re networking while doing good.

– Create a nonprofit-oriented resume. Consider hiring a career coach to help you think through your next steps and to fashion a résumé and cover letter that highlight how your experiences directly apply to the organizations you’re interviewing with.

–Check out specialty websites. Commongood Careers and the Bridgespan Group feature jobs and tips to help people with in-demand skills shift into the nonprofit world.

–Hone your elevator pitch. Nonprofits want to hear a convincing story about your passion and commitment to their cause. It’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve if you’re sincere and succinct.


Follow me on Twitter, @KerryHannon Visit me at

 This story appears in the February 29, 2016 issue of Forbes.

 I cover boomer careers, retirement, aging and personal finance.

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