Midlife Career Change: Like Dating Again After A Long Marriage — Midlife Career Strategy
Many people realize they need time to find a romantic partner and you probably can’t just hire a matchmaker.
Yet over the years, I’ve met many seasoned professionals who expect career services to match them with their soul-satisfying work within a few hours.
Some put their faith in career aptitude tests. The truth is, career tests might be helpful to someone who’s just embarking on a career right out of high school or college.
Once you’ve been in a job for ten to twenty years, you already have a sense of your own skills and talents. You probably know what you like to do (“travel for business but home on weekends;” “analyzing data;” “calling on a new customer.”) You know what drives you crazy (“being micromanaged,” “getting up at 5 AM”).
A large number of experienced professionals respond to resume services promising to “get you in front of hiring managers in your field” for $500 or more. Realistically, the only people who can help you find a job are called “recruiters.” They work for the hiring company — not for you, the applicant. Therefore, when dealing with a recruiter, you need to behave and dress exactly as you would for a company interview.
Oddly enough, I sometimes hear about recruiters who also do career coaching. That’s an incredible conflict of interest. It’s like asking your divorce lawyer to perform the wedding ceremony.
You hire a career coach, who becomes your advisor and advocate. She makes decisions based on what’s best for you. A recruiter, paid by a company, makes decisions beneficial to the company. I don’t know about you, but when I’m paying someone, I want them to put me and my interests first.
Ethical career coaches and career consultants will advise and guide you along your career path. They make no guarantees. Some believe in asking you questions and creating a space for you to make choices. Others (like me) are more likely to offer direct guidance, based on our experience and training.
When you work with a coach, you’ll usually see results faster. You’ll also become more aware of additional steps you could be taking and areas where you’re resisting. It’s important to choose your coach carefully.
Start with a single paid session. Some coaches give you a free introductory call but then require a commitment of months — even years — to work together. I’ve found that a free “get-acquainted” call will be helpful in scheduling and logistics, but less helpful in deciding whether you’re a good fit for working together.
That’s especially true if your “intro” call is 15–30 minutes. You need to sense the coach’s intuition for you, test out his or her recommendations, and evaluate the results.
Outside your comfort zone
When you are undergoing a career change, you step out of your comfort zone. By definition, a comfort zone is, well, comfortable. Once you felt in control of a high-powered career. Now you have neither control nor career. It’s frustrating and scary.
When you break up a relationship, you also step outside a comfort zone.The more you had, the more you feel you have lost. You wonder if you will find another partner. Dating is scary and frustrating, and you don’t know the rules, especially if you haven’t done it awhile.
Forget quick fixes
Most modern professionals wouldn’t dream of consulting a matchmaker to find a new mate. They wouldn’t expect to get a list of their five ideal mates, chosen from a few thousand possibilities. They realize they need time for grief and self-discovery.
Faced with a career change, the same people head for counselors, seeking instant answers and easy fixes.
“I want to know that I’ve made the right decision,” people tell me. “And I want to get answers now.”
Sophisticates who scoff at match-making eagerly sign up for aptitude tests. I can’t speak for match-making, but every day I talk to people who are frustrated with the results of their expensive vocational tests.
If you’re an adult with significant work experience, these tests typically show you are very well suited to your own occupation. That’s like saying your soulmate will strongly resemble the spouse you just left.
Co-Create your new career
And, the second time around, you probably don’t seek a mate with “cute looks, great dancer, gets the juices flowing.” A divorced friend evaluates potential mates on “likelihood of taking out garbage” and “coexistence with my cat.”
When successful people contemplate career transition, they soon realize they don’t care about whether a career will “use my math skills” or “let me work with fashion.”
They talk about autonomy, travel, and life purpose — and they realize they have to co-create these qualities in their chosen careers.
Most people reach career goals the way they meet their soulmates: they’re open to meeting people, they’re having fun, and they’re not desperate. Rarely, outside fiction, does someone say, “I need to get married in three months,” and achieve a long-lasting, happy marriage.
“It’s worth the wait…”
People who have learned not to be afraid of solitude can wait for marriage, and people who can handle the displacement of transition will probably find their soul-satisfying career.
Second marriages often are built on a more solid platform than first marriages, and second careers can create lives that are far more meaningful than their predecessors. Yes, it takes time, but it’s worth the wait.
For more: Check out my book, Your 21-Day Extreme Career Makeover. http://mycopy.info/career21
For a one-to-one consultation: http://midlifecareerstrategy.com/career-strategy-session
Originally published at https://midlifecareerstrategy.com on October 26, 2019.