In the late 1800s, our forefathers laughed at the Wright Brothers’ foolishness in trying to fly an airplane. But, Wilbur and Orville were creative thinkers who believed in themselves and continued in their efforts, finally succeeding in flying a distance of 120 feet (37m) in 1903.
Starting a new career can be as daunting as trying to fly, especially if you’re over 45 and you’ve just lost your job. The secret of success is to believe in yourself and to ‘think outside the square’ about your new career.
Here are seven ways to get your creative juices working on your new career:
Step #1: Add up what you have to offer
When you continually improve something, little by little, the final result is totally different from the original object. Consider how vastly different the Airbus is today compared to the first aircraft that the Wright brothers designed. Let’s apply this creative approach to your career. When you started in your job, you probably had base skills and little experience, but during your time with the organisation, you may have attended seminars, conferences, training courses, tertiary study or on-the-job training that has enabled you to evolve into the highly experienced person you are today. The Formula for Success = you + your experience + training + a positive attitude.
Jot down your professional development here.
Step #2: Combine all of your skills and experience
Most people over forty-five have experience in at least two career areas. The old adage of ‘once a teacher, always a teacher’ no longer applies in today’s employment environment. To illustrate this example, consider a teacher who is also trained in information technology. (Schools usually have one of their own staff trained as a specialist in computing.) This teacher could combine their skills and experience from both areas to develop a new career as a Computer Consultant, Help Desk Support Officer, Online Tutor or Corporate Trainer, where they would use the combination of their teaching and computing skills.
List your areas of skills and experience here.
Step #3: Consider all possibilities
This method involves developing a completely new idea to replace the old one. For example, a fifty year old Workplace Health and Safety Officer might ask herself ‘How can I get a new position that pays me what I believe I’m worth when I’m considered ‘over the hill’ by recruitment consultants aged twenty-something and can’t get to an interview?’ The creative answer might be to try a totally different employment option such as opening your own consultancy business, where your extensive experience is perceived to be an asset, rather than a liability.
Decide if self-employment is an option for you.
Step #4: Look at what you do with ‘Fresh Eyes’
This method involves looking at something familiar with ‘fresh eyes’ to find other applications for it. A wire coat hanger takes on new meaning when you’ve locked your keys in the car and you bend the wire to lift the lock. To apply this method to the workplace, the Workplace Health and Safety Officer mentioned in the previous example might choose to write a book based on the knowledge and experience they have gained in this role. Alternatively, they might decide to become a Workplace Trainer and conduct induction and safety training courses for organisations in the industry they worked in previously. A third choice might be to tap into opportunities offered by recent changes in legislation about complex requirements for workplace compliance. They could use their knowledge and experience to become an accredited ‘Compliance Officer’ in their own industry or start their own consulting business as a Compliance Consultant.
Think ‘outside the square’ – how can you use your skills and experience?
Step #5: Remove your own limitations
The mighty circus elephant remains secured by a small chain staked to the ground, even though he is the most powerful beast in the jungle. Why? Because when he was very young, he was similarly staked to the ground using a heavy chain. He learned that he could not move, no matter how hard he tried, and eventually accepted this limitation. In your career to date, have you been held back by your own limitations or those set by other people? Have you ever thought: ‘I’m hopeless at computing’ or been told: ‘You’re not as smart as your sister’, or many other negative thoughts that limit your career options.
Note down anything that is holding you back and remove it.
Step #6: Be ready to change direction
Many creative solutions are developed by changing direction. If what you are doing is not working, no matter how hard you try, it makes good sense to change direction. For example, if you send off forty résumés each week and get no response, it’s time to re-evaluate the content of what you’re sending or perhaps trying a totally different approach such as networking. Repeating the same action that isn’t working won’t get you a job. Eighty percent of positions aren’t advertised – they are ‘hidden jobs’ and are won by ‘people who know people’. As part of your plan for the future, it is vital to join professional or industry organisations so you can build a strong network of business colleagues who can provide personal recommendations when you change careers. The old saying: ‘It’s not what you know – it’s who you know’ are words to live by in today’s dynamic employment climate.
Work out a definite plan for getting a job.
Step #7: Change your mind-set about employment
In addition, you need to change how you think about your career. Job security has gone, along with bell bottoms and big hair! Unfortunately, job insecurity is here to stay, so you will need to consider ‘Plan B’, ‘Plan C’ and possibly ‘Plan D’ as well. One way to prepare for this new employment mind-set might involve undertaking further study or training to gain qualifications in your field. Another way might be to work as a contractor or consultant to other organisations in your industry or even to other industries. Think BIG! To use our example of the Workplace Health and Safety Officer, she might need to obtain Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment to gain national accreditation as a Corporate Trainer or additional qualifications to work as a Workplace Health and Safety Consultant or a Workplace Health and Safety Auditor.
Research to find out the training or experience you need to achieve your goals.
Congratulations! You’re ready to roll out your new career. Go for it!
Please leave your comments below to inspire others who are finding it tough.
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