I'd be lying if I said that I'm not worried about my age -- 51 -- being a problem in my job hunt, especially after working independently for more than a decade. But I just can't believe I'm doomed because of it. I have friends who've switched jobs, acquired new skill sets, and launched satisfying careers after 50. So why not me?
A couple of weeks ago, my editor set me up with AOL Jobs blogger J.T. O'Donnell, a coach who offers an online program at CareerHMO.com. It turns out O'Donnell was a great match for me.
O'Donnell believes that every career has three phrases. Phase III, the last 20 years of a career, is all about reaping the rewards of decades of working. That's what phase I'm entering. And as a seasoned professional, O'Donnell says, I should derive great personal satisfaction from my job -- without having to work insane hours. I should have fun at work, love what I do and not have to put in more than 40 hours a week at work.
Believe me, many of my friends would say that, too. It's become brutal out there. I don't want to take it easy; I love working hard, and I'm used to fairly long hours. I just don't want to be eating dinner at 9 every night like I did when I was 30. I still have one child at home, and I'd like to see him.
And I know the fact that I'm 51 in a lousy job market, and lack certain skills for certain jobs, makes my quest an uphill battle. But I'm not willing to give up yet -- and O'Donnell says I shouldn't. If you understand what you want, she says, you can be flexible with your wish list, and strategic in the jobs you pursue.
So, O'Donnell gave me some self-assessment exercises, which confirmed what I already know about my work style and preferences. Articulating it, however, helped define the type of work and environment that is most satisfying to me.
My 'Belief Statements' About My Chosen Career
My ideas of what a good editor -- my chosen profession -- does: A good editor knows her audience. She sees the story, and packages it for the greatest impact. She can illuminate any subject, and is a great communicator. She makes smart decisions, and moves quickly. She is a champion of the work.
My work style and preferences: I'm an "energizer." I thrive in an environment where colleagues are positive, fun, competitive and quick-minded -- and where management is energetic, decisive and supportive. I'm also a "reporter," which means I like to seek out and share information, and build strong work relationships. I'm happiest in a position that involves motivating and persuading.
My mantra: You don't know until you try.
As a Phase III job searcher, O'Donnell says I should ask myself: Am I asking too much from my goal? Will I have to compromise too much to achieve it? And then, knowing what I want, I need to shape my search to get as close to personal satisfaction as I possibly can. I'm going to give it a try.
What about you: Are you going after what you want in a new career? Or are you compromising before you even started?
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