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Existential Career Crisis

June 6, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Management,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:17 am

A friend called recently worried about her career. She was apparently having an existential crisis after the end of a major project.

She’s a physician by training, specializing in back and neck injuries, using integrative treatment methods.

But, like many Baby Boomers she had been able to cut back on her work schedule and increase her volunteer activities.bigstock-playing-a-game-of-chess-52764313-758x485

As she said, “I like seeing patients two days a week, but I want something more, I just don’t know what it is.”

As I mentioned in my post “Career Conundrums” this is a frequent problem for older workers who already have a career. You can call them midlife crises or late-life crises, but they are generally an uncomfortable feelings related to “Is that all there is?” Peggy Lee’s 1969 hit.

After a short discussion, it became obvious that, hers wasn’t really a problem with “what do I want to do,” but was more about marketing – an all too common problem.

Turns out, my friend had some very specific ideas about her talents. She had even made a list – before I could suggest it. But she didn’t know how to market herself, or more accurately, just didn’t want to. That’s because sales and marketing requires a whole new skill set.

As someone who has done sales support and sales, I know that good sales people seldom get the credit they deserve.

Knowing what you want and telling the world about it require two very different talents. Most of the time we fail to recognize the difference. The real problem becomes bridging the gap.

Many very creative individuals have come to understand the problem. That’s why artists – actors, writers, painters – have agents. It frees them to do what they like, and leaves the sales, promotion and marketing to someone else.

Recruiters effectively do the same for other professions. Unfortunately, not every field has a specialized recruiter and many recruiters do a poor job of matchmaking.

If recruiters don’t meet your needs, you might look into outsourcing – the latest Baby Boomer growth industry. I don’t mean moving to India, but rather small companies who specialize in part time work. There are firms who place financial officers for  temporary positions or others who do the same for HR. There are even firms who place temporary CEO’s. This is particularly common in turn-around efforts, or for unexpected departures when firms need time to choose a new leader.

These outsourcing specialists are looking for a talent pool they can offer on an as-needed basis. Sometimes they lead to permanent jobs, but more often they are short assignments on a contract basis, which might be just what you want.

Believing that the world will beat a path to your door, because you have great skills is simply naive. You may have  a large circle of friends who know what a great job you did on that last project, but unless you let them know that you are open to more, you are invisible. You cannot be afraid to ask for help.

It requires a lot of self confidence to advertise yourself as an expert in a new area, because it risks criticism.

It also means change, which can be very disquieting.

The trick is to reframe your efforts: to expand your network: and practice your marketing pitch.

Ask a friend to lunch, but don’t approach it as a sales pitch, view it as an opportunity to ask for advice. Once you’ve done it a few times with friends, expanding to less familiar acquaintances will get easier.

Marketing yourself is just as important as the new career. You need to carve out time for it. At the start, your new job is all marketing, but eventually, it should just be part of your new career. But it needs to be a fixed part of your weekly schedule.

Don’t get trapped into a narrow range of assignments you will accept. Everyone sees you through a different lens and may see skills that you did not recognize.

And don’ expect instant results: keep your day job until you have some concrete new offers.

If you’re comfortable with blogs, tweets, or Facebook posts you can build your brand on the internet, but marketing on the internet can take even longer and means exposing yourself to many people who may not be able to help.

Your new career, at least at the start, will come from the people who know you the best.

Change is difficult, but it may be easier if you understand that:

1. Recognizing what you want to do, is not easy – you may need help.

2. You need to list the skills you want to market, but be open to alternatives.

3. You must recognize that marketing is part of your new job.

4. Self-promotion should start with people who know you best.

5. Reframing your interactions as a request for advice will make it easier.

6. Considering  recruiters or outsourcing specialists is an option.

7. You realize change will take time

 

 

 

 

 

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Career Conundrums

April 18, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations,Tech — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:51 am

Everyone needs a career coach. I realize that’s a bit self-severing coming from a career coach, but it’s true.

The thought occurred to me this week when I received LinkedIn requests to congratulate my connections who were passing employment milestones.

What is your next career?

What is your next career?

Everyone has questions, no matter what stage their career has reached.

The new college graduate wonders about accepting a job offer, thinking she doesn’t want to ‘get stuck’ doing ‘that job’ for the rest of her life.It seems to be a revelation when I point out that the job will change quickly, and in the current  job climate, 1 year may be a career.

Young people who have reached the 1-year mark, start to worry all over again about what they should be doing next. They’ve had one boss and are convinced they could do his job.

They see a friend or two changing jobs and wonder if they should be looking too. In most cases they haven’t even bothered to ask their current employer what their future might look like, if they stayed.

I can remember calls from clients who have been working in the same position for 3 or 4 years and have developed enough maturity to question what they want to do next. Some just know, they don’t want to do what they have been doing, but don’t realize how valuable that knowledge is. At least they’re  beginning to understand how lucky they are to have a choice and how many choices there are.

Ask a lot of older employees with well established careers, and they’ll be happy to point out  that they have no idea’ how they got to this stage in their careers, it wasn’t a plan, it just happened.

Then, there are the long-term employees who have worked for the same company for 5 or 10 years, and have actually earned a reputation and may have gotten a call from a recruiter. The knowledge that someone may actually value your skills has to be weighed against what are now, significant financial and family obligations. The decision gets much tougher since it may involves children, spouses, extended family and a host of other issues.

It’s impossible to make decision like that dispassionately, because everyone you talk to, except a coach, has an opinion.

Finally there are people who have spent 20 or more years with one company.These veterans are wondering about all the decisions they have made, and how they just woke up one morning and wondered,  “Is that all there is?” I have yet to meet a client at this stage who doesn’t, at some point tell me, “Ya know, what I really want to do is start a company that…” You fill in the blank.

They are often speak glowingly about their idea or dream and the enthusiasm is infectious. The trick becomes trying to figure out why they haven’t created their new career. Working through the list of why they can’t, is often a revelation and can take several sessions. In the end , they will either realize that they might have a good idea, or that they really just like having the dream.

Whatever career anniversary you’re having, a coach can’t make decisions for you, but we can make sure you ask the right questions.

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