If you are like me, the hard part of that question is deciding just when you are grown up. I wondered if I was the morning that I first held my newborn son in my arms, but knowing how you want to spend your working life is a challenge at any age. School leavers are overwhelmed with those career choices and they don’t get any easier with increasing decades.
Often we sort of fall in to an occupation without consciously meaning to and before we know it, changing seems too hard. It would mean retraining, there would be a cost, it would take time and who would hire me anyway?
Typically, changes by choice happen between the ages of thirty and forty, when there still seems to be a realistic prospect of re-establishing yourself in a new career and getting value out of the cost of making that change. At other times, the change may be foisted upon you by external circumstances. That can be a good thing, pushing you out of your comfort zone and making you consider what you really derive satisfaction from doing.
Making those later career changes, from 40 onwards can be more problematic, not because of your attitudes but because of the responses from those around you and of course the employment market. Changing careers often means taking a backwards step in seniority and income, and perhaps working for someone younger than what you might have been used to. Prospective employers often have concerns that there may be personality clashes or that you won’t be comfortable starting at a lower level.
In reality, you bring a wealth of experience with you, even if that was gained in a different industry or occupation. Analytical skills, customer service experience, attention to detail, building relationships – all of those attributes and more are transferable skills. Sure, you may need to acquire industry specifics and specialist training but if you’ve half a brain that shouldn’t be too difficult.
Working for a younger boss has both plusses and minuses. They can bring a new perspective to a team and can have less regimented views on management structure. On the other hand, they can lack the business smarts that come with experience, and can shut down opportunities for team members if feeling threatened. This is where your common sense and skills in diplomacy come to the fore. There is a fine art to getting a younger manager to see the value in your experience, without thinking that you are going to try to tell him or her ‘how it should be done’. Hopefully, you learn from each other and it is a win-win situation.
It is not unknown for some people to be thinking of a career change at about the same time that others are thinking of retirement. Perhaps retirement isn’t a financial option, or maybe you’ve finally worked out what you want to be when you grow up. Congratulations to you. Getting employment is not going to be easy; not impossible but still may be a challenge. Using all your networks is critical.
What many people of this age do is start their own business and become an encorepreneur (which is a term I prefer over seniorpreneur). Using skills and networks gained over a working career, they develop a new business with the intention of reporting to an excellent boss (themselves), putting up with minimal corporate bureaucracy, and having a flexible working environment. There are an increasing number of networking groups that have been put in place to support people in this position.
I can’t kid myself any longer that I’m still a kid but can still grapple with the question of what I want to be when I grow up. I’m always open to new ideas and I’m always getting new ideas. The day I stop is when I’m in trouble.
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Thank you. An excellent article. I particularly identified with the paragraph
"What many people of this age do is start their own business and become an encorepreneur (which is a term I prefer over seniorpreneur). Using skills and networks gained over a working career, they develop a new business with the intention of reporting to an excellent boss (themselves), putting up with minimal corporate bureaucracy, and having a flexible working environment. There are an increasing number of networking groups that have been put in place to support people in this position."
What specific networking groups cater for us more senior people?
Seniorpreneurs is one option Philip. That organisation is operating in several Australian states. There are also a growing number of Meet-Up groups that cater for specific interests, including Boomers or similar who are engaging in business activities. Others are not age-specific, but provide new resources and networking opportunities for the budding entrepreneur