For the past umpteen years, I have worked in an industry that is now going through wrenching change. My company has not been immune and rumours of layoffs are percolating through the ranks. I would look for something else in my field, but our competitors are in the same boat. I have to make a wholesale career change, but I’m at that awkward age – 10 years too old to start at the bottom and 10 years too young to take early retirement. I have no passions that can readily be turned into a new career, at least one that will keep a roof over my head. I just want a job that pays enough to get me comfortably through to retirement. Any advice?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Founder, Women’s Executive Network, Toronto
With Canada’s economy sluggish, growing at an uninspiring 2 per cent, many people are facing the same challenge. I commend you for thinking ahead and taking control of the situation. The key is to view this challenge as an opportunity.
Your age is actually an advantage, because the experience you have accumulated is in growing demand as baby boomers begin their exit – taking with them valuable knowledge. Step one is to clearly understand what you bring to the table: your skills, experience and ability as well as how you operate, and what motivates you.
Then, identify new industries that are a match for your skills and learn as much as you can about them and the companies that lead them. Set up informational meetings, attend industry events, do your homework.
Once you have a target list of companies, contact members of your personal and professional networks to find out if they have any connections that might help. The power of networking to advance a career cannot be overstated.
Finally, make the case for yourself. Articulate what you have to offer in a way that shows prospective recruiters and employers that your strengths are transferable.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Former deputy prime minister
No passions? Too old? Too young? It sounds like you are trapped in the present and not too happy about it. But you haven’t provided too many clues to help guide you in a life-changing transformation.
What is your current financial situation? Do you support only yourself or a family as well? Do you own your home? If so, there may be some other financial options (renters, boarders) which could ease any financial stress while you transition to a new career.
Assuming you have a decade until retirement, make that decade count. Take a basic aptitude test (you can find them online) and zero in on three or four completely new occupations. You might enjoy the freedom afforded a long-distance truck driver or the creativity of a flower arranger.
Get a copy of the autumn curriculum at your local community college and register in a course that would accredit you in the new occupation of your choice. Try to enroll in classes that offer co-op arrangements so that you can learn on the job.
Continue at your present job while you are putting the pieces in place to make a move.
Own your work, don’t let it own you. It could end up being the happiest working decade of your life.
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