The Age Advantage: Making the Most of Your Midlife Career Transition by Jean Erickson Walker, Ed.D.

 


The corporate ladder is gone and you're on your own!

Excerpts: The Age Advantage: Making the Most of your Midlife Career Transition

"If you're facing a midlife job transition, The Age Advantage is the guide you've been searching for. In this informative and motivational book, Jean Walker will show you how to celebrate the advantages of a midlife career switch while she guides you through each stage of the transition -- from the emotional shock that accompanies joblessness, to the fulfillment of securing your new dream career."

-- Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D.,founder, president, and CEO, Age Wave, LLC; Author of Age Wave and Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be Ruled by the New Old

How Do You Find a Job at Midlife?

General strategies and techniques designed for finding a job simply do not work for someone who is mid-age. You are probably not a novice in your field, and the overeager, overenthusiastic approach advocated for younger workers is simply inappropriate. You may well be interviewed by someone much younger and less experienced than you are, and your challenge is to come across with dignity, without appearing too authoritative and risking intimidating the interviewer. It's a delicate balancing act. Change is never easy, and for those of us I call the "ity" generation, it's even more difficult. We grew up in a culture that valued the virtues of dependability, reliability, stability, predictability, and security. We were taught to stand on our own tow feet, so it's difficult for us to ask for help. That doesn't mesh well with the fact that 80 percent of jobs are acquired through networking!

"All the significant
battles are waged
within the self."
--Sheldon Kopp

Many of us have been in the same field, or even the same company, for the majority of our careers, and it's hard to imagine doing anything else of even realizing we have options. With mortgages, kids in college, elderly parents to care for, and friends who expect us to continue on the same social track, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the next step is to find a job...any job... that will pay the bills. But you're much too special to settle for that. Midlife is a wonderful time for introspection, for gathering new knowldge of this incredible being you've lived with so long, and for finally putting all your talents, interests, and abilities together for the most productive and fulfilling years of your life. This is a book about understanding yourself, the role work plays in your life, and the marketplace where your talents and skills will be most appreciated. It's about positioning yourself for the future you want. Midlife may not be the right age to retire or to climb a corporate ladder; but it is just the right age to take control of your life. This book is for people who look forward to making the third third of their lives the best time of all. It is for people, like you and me, who care about the quality of our lives. It is for those of us who are at mid-age, at the top of the hill, where the view is the best. Indeed, as the Greek philosopher Syrus said so long ago, "It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity."

Career Options and Lifestyle Choices

"There are no secrets to
success. It is the result of preparation,
hard work, learning from
failure."
--Colin L. Powell

The biggest obstacle to successful midlife career transition is believing you have no options. The reality is your have the experience and proven track record for a wide range of possibilities, but although you have confidence in your ability to meet enormous challenges in most areas of your life, the very idea of looking for a job may give you cold chills.

The first reaction for most people when they lose a job is panic, immediately followed by determination to find another as quickly as possible. They want to fix what is broken, preferably before friends and associates find out what's happened. A long job search can be particularly difficult for someone who is mod-age. Their whole sense of self-respect is caught p in the job loss and they feel unwanted, rejected, and even more devastated personally than they are professionally. They begin to question their own competence, plagued by sneaky litt thoughts: "Was I even any good?" "Has my whole career been one big snow job?" "Will anyone ever hire me again?"

"Work comes out of life, the way grass grows, the way apple trees 'apple'. Because human beings are active creatures, they naturaly work."
-- Laurence G. Boldt, Zen and the Art of Making a Living

Because of decades of work experience, people of mid-age often anticipate numerous offers... and quickly. They expect headhunters to call and old professional colleagues to line up to hire them. The phone, however, is unnaturally quiet. The bottom line is they are out of a job, it doesn't feel good, and they may be tempted to grab the first job that comes along. However, if the new job is not the right one, they'll be out on the street again before they find their way to the executive washroom. They'll be plunged into the emotional turmoil of the first job loss all over again, only this time it will be magnified, because they'll be convinced that: 1) they are losers, 2) the unluckiest people around, 3) the world's no good, or 4) their companies don't know what they're doing. Any one or all may be true, but thinking so isn't going to get them a job or make them feel any better.

"Exploring new opportunities" is the common fallback term. Actually, it's what everyone in midlife should be doing, regardless of whether they have lost a job, have a job they enjoy, or are contemplating leaving a job. Midlife is a major milestone in life, a place to consciously stop and reaccess life values and goals. There is no question that a career path largely determines our role and place in society, and if it is the wrong one, it can feel like a cage with no escape. A major challenge of midlife is to find the self inside the image we can become to the outside world. Midlife career transitions deserve total focus. Put off decisions until you are ready, emotionally as well as intellectually, to make them. Everyone has options. To assume your path is established at midlife and there is no deviating from it is to sell yourself short. Life is an ongoing evolution; don't let it "just happen." A job loss is traumatic, but it's not the end of the world. It may even be the beginning of a whole new, perhaps even better, life.

 

 

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