NEWS + ADVICE
Over 40 Career and Job Search Tips
Many people who are in their 40s and up look forward to working into their 70s or later. Yet the latter years of a career can pose challenges. Start thinking now about how you want to grow and maintain your career in your 40s-50s-60s.
Career loss hits for many reasons. Some are professional: contract loss, company re-organization or acquisition, business failure, or personal failure to maintain skills. Others are more personal: family needs or personal/family health issues.
At job fairs I regularly talk with people in their 50s and up who claim that they do not have a network anymore as everyone they know has retired. Reading that, you may think, “That’s just wrong.” And it is.
Building and maintaining your network is an ongoing process that keeps on even through retirement. As long as you work, you should be building your network within your current employer and externally. Meeting and connecting with new people in person and on social media is a vital skill for success.
Maintaining connections with people you have worked with and others you have met is also vital. Your connections are a smart source of information about your career field, the marketplace, and job options. When you need it, they also function as great referrals which helps you over the hump of concern about your value, age, or cost.
By 40 you are likely to have built up a lot of expertise and a range of skills in your field. But what happens if your field is dying? Or is changing significantly? Or you stop adding new knowledge? The skills you have are useful, but there is no time in life in which you should stop learning. During your career, you are likely to change jobs and even career focus. This means a part of your career planning is always devoted to learning new skills and technologies.
There are a lot of ways to do this. In your organization, seek out training programs. Volunteer for task forces or special projects that offer new skills. These also will support your internal network building. Consider local seminars and classes – what is available which meets your needs? Active participation in professional groups is another great source for learning new technologies and trends while building your network too. Read! Most articles on successful executives talk about how they read books regularly. Subscribe to online newsletters as well as business or trade journals. Check out social media for articles and links. Ask your friends too.
Using Company Development Programs
Many companies do not do much training of more senior people, in part because there is an assumption of lack of interest or need. Don’t let your boss or company think this about you. Talk to your boss about your career goals and what support you want from her and from the company. Be clear about what you are doing to grow your skills and abilities already so that he understands you are committed to growth in the company’s interest. Offer to help train more junior staff or provide an in-house seminar on a topic – teaching others is a great way to enhance your own knowledge!
If your company offers individual development plans, be sure you work to make yours smart and realistic. I am always discouraged by those who tell me that it is too much trouble. Even if it is more formulaic than favored at your employer, the process still helps you get the planning you need done and shows your boss your interests and activities.
Creating an Advisory Board
Think of yourself as a brand or company. What support and advice do you need to thrive? Pick out 5-6 advisors to help you. You might consider people you have worked with or know well from professional groups as well as some you admire and want to know better.
Be specific in asking each person about what you want and why. Give them an idea of the plan up-front. Will you do lunch or dinner several times a year individually or with the whole group? What role are they fulfilling? You want someone who knows your market and one outside it, a skeptic and a visionary, a creative and a detail-oriented person at a minimum. What you need depends on where you are in your career, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what goals you currently have.
Literally and figuratively, going outside is a smart move. There are excellent research studies which show that time in nature enhances our coping skills and creativity. Playing a sport, visiting museums, and being actively involved in non-work parts of life add to your resilience and grow your connections.
Secondly, going outside into community and volunteer work for causes which interest you opens up new opportunities to develop skills your current job does not require. These new skills can be useful for new work options and promotions. They also build your network.
Too often in our mid-life years, we let our development activities go. We go to work and often work hard. But we are not building our knowledge, expanding our skills, or enhancing our network. Then when the inevitable happens and we need a new job or a new company or a new career, we flounder. Playing catch-up later in life because you have not kept up makes you more vulnerable to career diminishing or ending threats. Don’t be “that guy.”This entry was posted on Monday, October 24, 2016 10:38 am