How do you learn about different career options? One method involves interviewing for information. If you’ve been working awhile you probably aren’t sure how to go about this step which can be key to a successful career change.
Today’s Wall Street Journal includes an article, A Real Estate Career With Wall Street Cred. The story describes people who quit their jobs to become high-end real estate agents. For anyone seeking a midlife career change, this article offers some strong examples.
For instance, Daniela Sassoun was a private banker in Switzerland. Jack Drapacz has MBA nd JD degrees plus fourteen years on Wall Street, working in hedge funds.
What does this mean for you?
Often your credentials from a previous career will strengthen your new career, especially if you choose an entrepreneurial path. You can leverage your previous life, even if you’re in a whole different field. For instance, these brokers got clients from their previous colleagues, who trusted them.
Even more, they were able to work with their new clients as equals. People like to work with professionals who relate on their own levels. It’s like you’re saying, “I’ve walked on the red carpet and you have too.” Snobbery? Maybe … but the key is you share values, experiences and context.
What this means is that if you go into business in a field where you might seem overqualified, you will actually attract clients your competitors can’t. For example:
– A dog walker with a graduate degree builds an empire based on business acumen and ability to connect with professional clients.
– A massage therapist builds an upscale practice and expands to health coaching, based on his degrees, independent study, and previous careers.
– A personal trainer keeps his practice full in a competitive marketplace, after graduating from an elite US degree program and serving in an elite military unit in an allied country’s army.
These folks are more educated than their peers and relate to their clients – especially their professional clients – in a special way. They keep clients for years and usually have a waiting list.
So … what can you bring to your next entrepreneurial venture? We can brainstorm during a Career Session.
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Step 1: Turning inward. You’d answer questions like, “What do you want engraved on your tombstone?”
That’s fun but a lot of people got caught up in these steps and never moved beyond. Career change depends on action.
Step 2: Identifying one or two career paths to investigate, based on the results of Step 1.
This idea also makes sense … except for two things.
First, many careers today just didn’t exist five or ten years ago. Ten years ago, for instance, being a life coach was way out there. Today it’s a mainstream option for many people.
Instead, start by investigating opportunities that present themselves. Then use the results of those investigations to plan your next step.
Second, research shows that most people do not identify their ultimate career choice ahead of time. They stumble into it through serendipity.
Step 3: Go out and do some interviews for information till someone offers you a job.
This advice is especially dangerous today.
When Parachute was written, the economy and the career world looked very different. Managers really did have time to take calls and answer questions about careers.
Today you may be able to do the same thing, but more likely you will hit a wall. You need to know who to call, how to approach them, what questions to ask, and how to follow up.
Based on my most popular special Report:
Your 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover
You can also work with me via one-to-one consulting:
Mid-life career change doesn’t always mean moving to a new job. Many people successfully find new, satisfying jobs as they reach their fifties and sixties. However, you can empower yourself by reducing your reliance on the job market and the whims of employers.
Starting a business can seem scary (and it should). Unfortunately, media stories tend to escalate those fears. The truth is, even if 90% of all businesses fail, many of those businesses are *first* businesses. Many people learn from their failures and go on to become successful.
In any case, the twentieth century ideal of a “job with benefits” may not be a realistic option for many of us. If you’re happily employed now, it’s a good idea to begin getting ready for entrepreneurship. Even if you never need those skills to start a business, you will be a stronger contributor as a corporate executive or manager.
(1) Discuss your plans only with trusted advisors who are not connected to your current company.
(2) Leverage your company’s resources. You might not want to use the tuition plan to pay for coach training or entrepreneurship, but you can grab lots of training in skills like speaking, WordPress, HTML, graphics, finance and more.
(3) If at all possible, begin by taking courses on entrepreneurship and small business at low-cost community colleges; some will be more valuable than others but you’ll begin to get in the groove. You’ll meet other business owners and get inspired by their energy.
(4) Investigate your local Small Business Association (SBA) and talk to a business advisor. These seminars and advisors vary dramatically in quality. Some people said they’re useless but I know others who built a whole business just with SBA advice.
(5) You should be able to get a business plan together with a course or SBA consultation. You can use your start-up funds to get the business going with a website and other marketing tools.
(6) Hang out with other business owners. If you’re in a city with a coworking space (google coworking + your city) find time to work there when you can. (I’m a member of Philadelphia’s IndyHall and can also recommend Benjamin’s Desk here.) These spaces extend the idea of working in a coffee shop: you pay to spend a day or several days with your laptop and notes. You don’t have to keep moving and it’s safe to leave your computer while you go for a break.
If you work at home occasionally, take your laptop and spend a day. Most coworking spaces have evening or weekend events for members and sometimes their guests.
Coworking people are friendly! They’ll give you lots of informal help and most important, you’ll get a sense of what works.
(7) Don’t be surprised if your entrepreneurial endeavors turn into a corporate job. You’ll be more confident and poised when you’re facing an interviewer. You’ll also impress someone who hired you for a project when the company’s HR department might have deep-sixed your resume.
Some people are relieved when they get a corporate offer; others value their independence.
Here’s an article about entrepreneurship and the new retirement: http://budurl.com/seniorbiz
And you can download this info product (just $7) that outlines the different kinds of online business models, along with tips for avoiding the most common mistakes: http://budurl.com/bootup
Of course I’m happy to work with you also, to evaluate options and come up with a plan that helps you reach your definition of success. When time is tight and you can comfortably invest in one-to-one consulting, often this step makes sense to move faster. http://budurl.com/careersession
From Dorset, England, comes a good article on career change. Read it here.
The journalist interviewed a handful of mid-life career changers and tells their stories.
The key to these career changes is serendipity, a willingness to make leaps and freedom from a commitment to “keep moving up.”
Career change decisions don’t work like accounting decisions. For instance, in accounting, we are taught that we should ignore sunk costs when making a decision. To some would-be career changers, a first career can be viewed as a sunk cost. The truth is, your first career isn’t really a sunk cost. It’s an investment that can provide leverage for your second career.
The New York Times ran a really good article on this topic today. You can read it here.
The author, Joel Greenwald, found his first career as a doctor. He was a reasonably content, but not really happy, physician. After less than a dozen years, he realized he wanted to change. He began a new career as a financial planner.
As he points out, this change wasn’t easy. When you’re a financial planner, you need to find clients. You need to “build your book.”
But after a certain period of time, Greenwald realized he had an edge. He knew a lot of doctors. He could speak their language. He now has a successful financia planning business, specializing in physicians and dentists.
Of course you’ll find many ways to leverage experience. Often your skills and competencies transfer in surprising ways. Greenwald finds some similarities in the way he relates to financial planning clients and the way he used to relate to patients.
Sometimes you bring confidence and a style of relating to people. If you’re an experienced speaker, you’ll be able to raise a company’s presentations to a new level, especially if you’re working with a startup. If you’ve got a sales background, you’ll be able to persuade, motivate and accomplish in any environment.
Sometimes you can use skills from one field to begin working in another. For instance, I once knew a lawyer who wanted to work in animal rescue. She began doing pro bono work for an animal shelter while she learned the ropes. Then she got hired as an assistant director and later was invited to direct an agency in another location. You may be able to get not just a foot in the door but a whole head and shoulders in the hallway when you sign up as a technical or financial specialist.
Career coaching often helps you identify skills you didn’t realize you had, as well as opportunities to leverage your previous career to build your first.