Making the decision to change your career requires courage, and making a smooth change requires wisdom, clarity and strategy. Anyone who chooses to change their career will face challenges, and this does not get easier with age. As we face the challenges our confidence can be eroded, bit by bit or through some nasty incident.
Rebuilding or maintaining a strong healthy confident outlook on life is, in itself, a challenge! That is magnified by the challenges that everyone has to deal with, but if you know what is ahead you can be ready to manage your reactions.
Let’s face it – your age is what it is and there is nothing you can do about it. If you need to change the colour of your hair, lose weight or obtain more qualifications then there is something you can do to make these things happen. With your age, there is not one thing you can do! So put your birth date aside and get on with facing the challenges you can conquer, fighting the battles that you can win. There is no point in dwelling on your age as an issue.
Wanting to change your job is one thing but making the decision to pursue a new career is another thing altogether. Many want to do it, but few have the courage and determination to follow through!
During your working life many new occupations and even industries have appeared, but, unless you have had the opportunity to gain skills through your current work, many mature workers are unaware of some of the new jobs that exist. To overcome this challenge and gain a contemporary perspective do some research on areas with which you are not familiar. This can be done by looking at job ads in newspapers and on the internet. By all means consider a career change but don’t limit yourself just to the jobs you already know. Give yourself the widest range of options!
Society today seems to be dominated by youth and beauty. Maybe it was always like this, but when we were young and beautiful (and sadly most of us didn't realise we were at the time!) we thought it was perfectly normal. Now it seems ageist to us! The media go wild about ‘beautiful young things’. Many television programs cater for and star young people. However look a little harder and you will see that there are many mature workers involved in every industry.
Age is a common stereotype. The image of an older worker who is slow to learn, set in their ways and dull to have around is full of prejudice and stereotype. It is also blatantly not accurate for most people. However ageism, sadly, is alive and well. Nevertheless, let’s face facts here; some older people are indeed slow, finicky and dull. But so are some younger people!
What you have to avoid is falling into the trap of perpetuating that image. You are looking for work in the 21st century. Workplaces are contemporary and you need to be contemporary also in order to be considered a suitable employee. Don’t dress like a 25 year old, and conversely, don’t go to work looking like your grandmother. You don’t need to be the computer whizz kid in the workplace, but you must have the appropriate level of skills for your job. You can wear your glasses to read, but don’t make a big deal about the fact that you can’t read without them. Get the idea? Be your best self in the workplace, not some caricature of your age.
Even if ageism and stereotypes are common you can overcome these challenges. While many employers seem to favour young workers there are also many employers who welcome older staff members. They appreciate experience and reliability. You have those qualities in spades. Break free of the stereotypical mould by showing them what you are capable of. If you believe that you will encount age discrimination then you will find it everywhere you go, so don't go looking for it. Your challenge is to communicate that you are capable, talented, reliable, enthusiastic and definitely a person worth hiring.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to many people is their own opinion of themselves. Many older workers ask themselves, “Is this all there is?” They wonder if they will ever do anything exciting and worthwhile in their working life. And if they do want to try something new, the biggest handicap is their lack of belief in themselves.
So, what do YOU think of yourself? Be honest and look at yourself as a stranger would with regard to your
If you aren’t happy with your personal rating of yourself do something about it. Making changes to improve your image and attitude will impact on your self-esteem and self-confidence. When you have a strong self-image, changing your career is so much easier. I recently saw a UK TV production about makeovers of two career women. There was a huge difference in their self-esteem after the makeover. When they knew they were smartly dressed and looking attractive they projected an entirely different energy. What was fascinating was the reaction of the people they interacted with at work who obviously viewed them differently because of their “new image”.
Now don't misinterpret my comments here as preaching. I'm writing them as much for myself as for you. I would benefit from making many changes in this area of life. So please understand that, although this may seem harsh it's what many of us (myself included) need to hear.
You may like to read the other blog posts in this series: