Mid-Life Career Transition

“I am now at a stage of my life where any changes in one’s career can be for some, catastrophic.” Now don’t be alarmed, I am only expressing what one person said to me after being laid off at ‘ZERO’ notice in mid-life.

The ceiling on the world caved in for this long standing successful professional. So where I am going with this?

Career advice; and I am speaking from experience here, is often geared towards the less seasoned members of our community and commercial world. Now there’s nothing at all wrong with this, on the contrary; if you have perhaps left school with below par qualifications, or indeed have just gained that degree of choice from your university, then the next step forward is potentially life changing.

However what if you have already been working for 30 years or more,  you’re still active, still driven and still believe that you have yet to fulfil your career ambitions? What about you!?

A little empathy… You have been laid off work and now unemployed. You still have a mortgage, other credit commitments, teenagers or young adults still at home adding to the domestic overheads and stress, you’re having real emotional and mental difficulty adjusting to this unexpected and unwanted new status, you endure sleep disruption and increased sensitivity to everything.

What to do? Well in my empathetic example above, there’s a series of issues that need examination and understanding. One can clearly find that from the first action, there’s an almost unlimited chain reaction that permeates so many areas of one’s life chart.

Two things come to mind immediately. Safe guard your fiscal commitments as soon as possible! The other is more pertinent to this article; addressing the root cause. So take stock, prepare and let’s get you back to work ASAP!

• NETWORK: At this stage of your career, you should have established a sound network of peers and professional points of reference. If not, don’t waste any time by promoting yourself in the areas of ability that you represent, or wish to be associated with. Internet sites; http://www.linkedIn.comhttp://www.xing.comhttp://www.plaxo.com – get your profile uploaded on http://www.zoominfo.com

• Before you shoot off and register your CV on job boards and with agencies – evaluate it, and research them carefully. Take a very close look at your career document, a real close look. Your CV/resume should be looking forward and NOT backwards. At this stage of your career, it’s not necessarily what you have done that ‘really’ matters, it’s what ‘value add’ you can; and will be perceived to be bringing to the corporate table.

• I am not going to teach you to suck eggs here, but the presentation of your CV is vital; at this stage and this relates to the above point, it can read like War and Peace if you are not too careful – the design and the content presented needs to be punchy, clear and must immediately resonate with the decision-making reader (no one else really matters), so find out as much about who this person is and make every effort to reflect his or her ‘must-haves’ and or needs. This is critical, and dare I say often overlooked. I will remark by saying that some recruitment and search consultants, have a greater interest in generating fees than whether you will be pulling up trees in your next role over the next 3 – 5 years.

• How you ‘fit in’ will play a large part in the mind of the hiring authority. You are likely to be hired in a position of some authority, so ADAPTATION is important. Research the company and access all areas, from culture, history, market share, internal dynamics, to turnover and people investment. Bank this information!! Find out information on who may report to you and who you will be reporting to. Get it right, being able to convey your understanding of both, and being able to adapt with your audience effectively, can be the choice of your hired or frankly undesired!

• By now you will know that PERSONAL PRESENTATION is another critical tool in your career search bag. Remember you are a senior applicant; depending on what role you are seeking, please look the part! From shoes to watch, from finger nails to body language – first impressions really do count.

From the receptionist to your hiring audience, always say “Hello/good morning/afternoon, how are you?” wait for the surprised look, then the cheerful reply, now introduce your good self. Apply this tool of disarming your audience, then let me and those that matter know if it made a difference.

No credit will be taken for the style you may choose to use, but do try it and see what happens. Ensure good eye to eye contact throughout and be cheerful, bright and emit a can-do attitude. It will be sensed and will go a long way to determining a positive outcome.

• Finally, do not proceed in a haphazard fashion, you really cannot afford to hit and miss now. Gather your researched companies, agencies, consultants, job boards, networking sites and work them like there’s no tomorrow.

Preview success and success will transpire.


Emotionally Handling Unemployment

The current job market is a testing environment for the job seeker, worse still if after being in a highly paid and responsible role for sometime, you now find yourself at your local Job Centre Plus and claiming benefit… for you this whole experience is very difficult to deal with indeed, but dealing with it is essential.

It sometimes feels like good fortune smiles on everyone except you doesn’t it? What may also go with these moments (they are in truth only moments) of what seems like insurmountable obstacles is that they seem to have queued up and waiting for you to come along! Are you with me on this; am I close to describing your own experience?

It is quite easy to wallow in self-pity and repressed anger at it all!

Of course doing so changes little in reality; in fact doing so may often make matters worse… keep it up and it could lead to a form of depression, introversion and anti-social behaviour. In truth it achieves the exact opposite of what you would like to experience and where you want to be. So pull yourself together!!

Of course as we all know our moments of doom and gloom are relative. Someone unknown to you at this precise moment will have just been told that they have just days to live, or lucky you – you could’ve been born in a part of the world where good fortune left decades ago; where there is no work, life borders on death and eternal struggle.

FACT – everything we experience starts with us, NOT with something or someone outside of our control. That’s worth paraphrasing isn’t it?

All we experience begins with our thought, action and the resulting consequence. If you are out of the blue handed a redundancy notification, you will feel like a victim, if you CHOOSE.

There’s no short-cut to good fortune, why? Because good fortune is all around us all the time.

By good fortune I am not talking about winning the lottery (though you first need to buy a ticket to win it, so there’s little luck there right?) or similar, even though such an event may be viewed as what good fortune actually represents; no I mean that if you choose to apply yourself (thought) to make something positive happen it surely will, just as if you choose to apply yourself (thought) to do something negative – it will certainly happen! Now that’s POWER right?

Now when you view the set backs in such light, they’re not really set backs at all, not when you have life’s remote control in your grasp! These events happen if YOU do not have a target or series of targets to go for, or perhaps you do indeed have worthy targets, but alas you are NOT fully committed to them or engaged with them fully. Any resulting poor output from your targets and efforts could be manifested through self-doubt, lack of preparation, weak application and so on…

A well-known statement often repeated in the world of Self Development and Mentoring is this ” if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you will keep on getting what you’ve always got!” and that’s a FACT!

So changing and upping the mindset is without doubt career-success critical if you are to break the current block and the potential for recurring disappointment; doing so is really the order of the ‘moment’, then the need for ‘handling it’ will eventually be rendered null and void.

The EGO has landed – in your workplace.

The EGO has landed… In Your Workplace!

We spend on average a third of our daily lives in our workplace. Many of us have little choice but to work to live, while others more fortunate, work for them is a vocation – their work is their life!

Whatever your position is, the dynamics within the workplace will have a distinct effect on you to a greater or lesser degree, and moreover the fortunes on whether the enterprise is one of long-term success, a constant struggle or failure will rely on the what, where and who rule.

Our choice of work, where we work and with whom we work with, carries with it significant importance.

So what if the third of your 24 hour day is filled with the unabashed power of the EGO. We all have come across this me me me emotion, one that seeks out and demands attention and approval (constantly); seeks to dominate and control, whose self-importance is so very important that all else around it is just a time-lapse blur!

Ego with unbridled power can prove to be business critical for all the wrong reasons, and for its host and for those who are its (your nearest) target, may even pose a health risk. So how do you cope with this impenetrable quality found in some people when you are daily confronted with it?

Ego by itself can prove useful, such as, in a fee generating sales environment, ego drives its host competitively onwards and upwards through sheer force of will and the desire to be first!! Ego in many ways can feed and inspire a winning mentality – sportsmen and women will have it as will most people seeking a life of celebrity. The shrinking violets of our world will not likely venture into the domain held by Mr and Miss Ego, and by the same token may not share much of the rewards as a result. So ego has its merits.

Ego too is a quality that is embodied in many leaders of industry and commerce; it is often what got them there in the first place – even if some lesser mortals were pushed aside along the way up. Ego however will not work so well in the classroom the Emergency Room or a chapel of prayer for example.

I’ve found that someone in possession of an ‘uncontrollable’ ego is a little like a runaway train blindfolded… it will keep on hurtling to wherever; and dare anything or anyone get in its way! The STOP sign simply does not get switched on.

They do not take kindly to being challenged; will unlikely admit defeat (even in defeat) and are prone to impulse. If you can back them (those who play the game wisely will do or at the other end of the scale are simply afraid not to) then you’ve got them onside – well at least until you no longer serve their ego interest. They certainly can be hard work, create emotional tidal waves, affect a positive ambiance and deter you from commuting from the sanity and security of your abode to their lair of command and control.

Ok, allow me to offer a few pointers here… Ego when channelled correctly is often charismatic, gets things done, makes things happen, can be a source of inspiration, is infectious and can be an important quality in successful business Leadership as I have previously outlined for today’s fast moving commercial world – if channelled correctly.

But if not…?

But ego is often a façade for something that may be missing; it may help the host to manage his or her day – by ensuring they are the focus of everyone’s attention may offer some semblance of control, and if you are control, you can better dictate, direct and drive the events and activities around you. Without that sense of being in the driving seat for the host may elicit a deep sense of unease and disquiet. Understanding that ego is very rarely the genuine face of its host must be emphasised.

Once you have this fact in your ‘getting through the working day’ mental tool bag, then you will be able to at least better understand if not tolerate its effects.

So with that in mind, if you have the time and the inclination, try not to firm up any instant conclusions. We, all of us are definitely more than the sum of our presumed and known parts. The key is to know whether your part (self) fits into that oddly shaped space.  Many a mistake is made by many a person in allowing ego to run riot in the work place – the ego continues to land on the shop floor, in the open plan office even in the canteen to dominate the day’s agenda. As highlighted, ego is an external quality that fills an internal void. It is not a zone marked ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’. Ego will feed off its subordinates one by one; don’t become its prey if possible. Remember you spend up to a third of your day in its presence, it is not what nature, commerce or I am sure you intended.

If you can manage the ego because your mental tool bag is well stocked then great, but if it is becoming clear to you that you are actually appeasing the emotion because it may make your life easier, it could be argued that you are undervaluing you own self-importance and worth.

In the work place, open and honest communication is paramount; both up and down the reporting line and across the horizontal. So COMMUNICATE. Too often while the ego is prevalent in the workplace, little is done to disarm it with the required tact and understanding to ease the pressure it can cause. If you are tasked with managing ego, then your relationship skills will be tested.

Whether you are a purveyor of ego (you all know who you are!) or subject to it in the workplace – being aware of it, and its positive and negative effects and why it exists at all can make the difference between a 9-5 of idle gossip, volatility, insecurity, instability, a high staff attrition rate and rapid career transition, or to enjoying a productive, enviable and phenomenal professional career and business growth.

Reflection : Change : Growth