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Mind over matter: why mindset matters more than age

15/12/2016

Mind over matter - why mindset matters more than age - a Career Farm blog by Jane Barrett
The last few weeks has found me talking about careers both ends of the age spectrum.

At the beginning of December I was interviewed by Eddie Mair for BBC Radio’s PM programme about careers for the over 50s.

This was a big deal for me, and my first time on national radio. Luckily one of our associates is a former BBC presenter, so he was able to help me prepare.

The producer found me via Google, which was a nice way to end the year as sometimes I wonder if it’s just my mum reading my blog posts! If you want to listen to the interview and read about my experience, there’s more here.

Age and career was the hot topic as Lucy Kellaway, a well-known columnist for the Financial Times in her mid-fifties, had announced she was leaving journalism to teach.

And if that wasn’t enough of a change, she’s also set up Now Teach to retrain mid/late career changers as teachers. An inspired idea, which stirred up a lot of comment.

In the same week I interviewed the blogger and careers explorer Emma Rosen, who is testing 25 jobs before she’s 25. You can hear the interview and read about her experiences so far here.

Another brilliant idea and while there are obvious hurdles to making this happen, it would surely be a good thing if more people could test out different options before fully committing to a career path.

Following on from this a new start up has been in touch with us to see if we can introduce them to some of the guests on our podcast. The company connects people who want to try out a particular career with others already working in that field – creating opportunities for shadowing, grown up internships or mentoring. It’s a brilliant idea and they launch in the New Year, so more to follow!

New Year – time for action?

aking Charge of Your Career - by Jane Barrett and Camilla ArnoldTalking about New Year, it’s nearly here and perhaps it’s just me but I feel there is a tide of change, where people realize they have to take more responsibility for their career.

So it’s very fitting the updated 2nd edition of the book I co-wrote back in 2010 is being published by Bloomsbury on January 12th. So if you want to take action in 2017 you can pre-order it on Amazon at Taking Charge of your Career.

We’ll also be relaunching our flagship Maximiser courses in January, so if you’re looking for a structured programme to help you achieve your career goals keep a look out for announcements next month!

Career Tips for over 50’s

In my last post I promised my top 10 tips on managing your career in your 50’s, so here they are!

  1. Self-evaluation is crucial.
    What do you want? Are you clear on this? You need to be heading towards something - not away from something.
    What do you have to offer? Is it what the market wants? And do you need to reskill?
  2. Get clear on your financial situation.
    Without really knowing your financial position it is difficult to know what your options are. To make a start on this, take a look at our guide here.
  3. Consider how you might transition into a new role.
    Consider part-time, and running side projects to test the water.
  4. Is a portfolio career an option for you?
    Nothing new here, futurist Charles Handy has always foreseen this as the way many of us will work in older age – often combining gift and paid work.
  5. Know the market demand for your skills.
    You need to assess the risk in retraining. Certain careers and companies actively value experience. Consider targeting SME’s and start up companies, as often they are open to recruiting those with more experience. By law companies aren’t allowed to discriminate on age, but it’s difficult to prove, so target companies who do hire more experienced staff. Firms like British Gas, Amex, B&Q and Bettys who are based in my hometown of Harrogate are names I have come across when researching companies who actively hire all ages.
  6. Know your personality and your appetite for risk.
    If you are entrepreneurial, but want to decrease the risk, consider franchises. This reduces some of the risk and reduces time spent on developing processes and branding.
  7. Give yourself time.
    The whole career development process takes time, so start actively managing your career before you need to. Take time to explore your options by meeting people connected with a field you are considering and doing informational interviews (this is when you interview someone about the work they do to increase your understanding of the job). Use the list of things you want from your next job (see Tip 1) as the blueprint for your questions.
  8. If you have one, get your partner on board.
    At this time in life you will often have other people to consider so get your partner or family on board, and involve them in the process. Make sure you have Tip 2 covered.
  9. Stay up to date with IT.
    Freelancing/self employment/start ups/portfolio working are all enabled by IT, so get comfortable with it. You need to be familiar with the tools of the 21st century to increase your efficiency and professionalism.
  10. Review your image.
    Out of date clothes can age you, and while again it is not PC to judge someone on their appearance…in the real world it happens, so make sure you are presenting the best version of yourself. This can also increase your confidence no end, which brings me to my final point….

After 16 years of being a career coach to clients of all ages I truly believe that a positive mindset is a massive advantage. I would like to write more about this in 2017, as it’s something I’ve personally struggled with during the ups and downs of micro-entrepreneurship.

But for now, just be aware of the positive feeling you get from taking control of different aspects of your career planning and try to build on that by working your way through the list.

Age brings many benefits, particularly the experience of having seen and dealt with many different situations and people. There is a lot of talk about the automation of jobs, and David Price discusses this at length in his book ‘Open’ about how we will live, work and learn in the future (you can find out more about that here).

So to future-proof our careers (so we don’t lose out to the robots!) we need to focus on roles where the human element, and that accumulated experience, is valued and difficult to replace. This, along with mindset and confidence is crucial to giving you career longevity.

A skills crisis is looming if companies do not focus on people in their fifties and over. A new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development is talking about a shortage of one million workers by 2035.

This is good news for those of us moving into the later part of our careers, but we have to work on our side of the equation too.

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