Showing love to the mid-life worker by Mark Anthony Dyson
While I’m not offering suggestions this time, but more or less reminding those of you looking for a job of the complications in changing careers “mid-life.” While there are many reasons for change or to glide steady, there are two reasons I hear a lot about.
Midlife career changers generally look to do more meaningful work 35-55. They will likely be involved in raising children and looking after elderly parents. There are several layers to a midlife career changer.
1) A person has worked hard during their 20s and early 30s, bought a home, can afford for one parent to take six months or more away from a job, and desires to return to the workforce. They will need to retrain or gain more certifications to increase their marketability and want a position to complement their family dynamic. Traditionally, this description would fit women, but the pandemic has exploited men’s involvement in the family to the point where many see the need to do much more.
2) A person who has not found clarity will want to try different things and consider various possibilities to find a meaningful career. They will try completely different types of work to gain clarity. While starting a new career from scratch is daunting, it’s also a reality if they aspire to have a stable life and a niched-down career path to take them into their next few years.
For both scenarios, the advice is the same except for the time. Both could be working against time because of a separation (layoff or termination), but neither should they feel hopeless or desperate.
Here are some other things either can do to advance your efforts:
-Prioritize clarity. Have many 1-to-1 conversations with people thriving in the industry you want to be in. Many will call it informational interviews, but you want to learn how to navigate the industry, not ask for a job. More information about their journey enables you to create your path.
– Join industry organizations and associations and participate in community and groupthink activities. Opportunities will be to hone new skills and meet and work with seasoned industry professionals. Look at and if you can emulate how younger workers are moving and scaling their careers. You have experience they don’t have. Learn from them, and learn how to work with them.
– Volunteer. If you are honing newly learned skills or polishing old ones, there are opportunities to help non-profit organizations. While money isn’t exchanged, the experience will be the focus. You can ask the organization to be a reference for future jobs and a LinkedIn recommendation in exchange for your time.
Don’t get discouraged by the potential of younger competition. Many mid-life career changers stifle and won’t try. If your skills and experience have relevance, you’ll find opportunities unless you give up. It’s not a “mid-life” crisis unless it’s a goal.