by Saqib Hassan
If you are not continuously building your career, you are watching your career dissipate, die and go down the drain. The keynote of today’s marketplace is “Change”. If you are not in the mentality of change, then you are in the mentality of losing all of your enthusiasm, energy and creativity in the workplace. Change is the key concept that one must grasp in order to energize and build a career that one loves. Many older people settle down into an occupation, job or profession. This could be a recipe for disaster, boredom and job dissatisfaction. That’s not to say that young people in their 20’s and 30’s will not get bored or dissatisfied with the jobs and careers that they find themselves locked into. In today’s workplace, employers are looking for people in their 20’s and 30’s who possess high-energy, enthusiasm and creativity, rather than experience.
It is not uncommon for people who reach their fourth, fifth or sixth decade to find themselves at the top of the mountain, looking around to see “What’s Next?” A common problem that aging workers face as the top of the career mountain is reached, is the possibility of a new or different career mountain presenting itself. Crashing burnouts may occur once a person reaches and fulfills the heights of ambition. Therefore, it becomes necessary to realize a career is not just the attainment of a goal. A career is a dynamic, organic process that constantly needs to be energized with change and challenge. Many aging workers are not aware of this process and find themselves stuck in a job, occupation, or creativity rut. Even if the waters of fulfilled dreams and ambitions are successfully navigated, one must remember that building a career is a lifetime challenge, requiring commitments to change, renewal and relearning. If this is not implemented, boredom and dissatisfaction will set in. When ambition becomes derailed and dies, aging workers may find themselves lost.
To avoid going the way of the occupational dinosaur, workers of all ages must think about acquiring the training that makes them more marketable. Anyone stuck in a rut must reframe him/herself as a “silent job seeker.” Sometimes when people stay too long in the same position, organization, occupation or job, they may be seen as someone who has lost the spark and tenacity of ambition. It used to be that you could get ahead in your career by knowing the right people. But now, it is more important for you to be known by the right people. This necessitates an orientation towards curiosity, inquiry and questioning. Find out if your skills are transferable and don’t get caught in the archaic thinking that if you are over 50, you are over the hill. I have seen this “over the hill” mentality occur in people who are approaching their 30th birthday. If this thought process enters your mind, take it as a signal that it might be time to consider energizing your ambition, your career goals and your enthusiasm. Accept the challenge. If you don’t, you may end up wondering what to do with the rest of your life. Realize that you have more to give and the only problem is that you have become stuck in a career rut.
The Process of Career Building
It is time to fully reconsider the whole process of career building. The first step is to begin an experimental exploratory search of possible job and career opportunities that might appeal to you. It is not enough to just dream about what you would like to do. It becomes necessary that you begin to apply your research and exploratory capabilities to the career and job marketplace. The key concept here is: search and study, study and study some more. Once again let me reiterate and emphasize the concept and power of Change, Change, Change. A good place to start is the internet. Check such sites as Careerbuilder.com … Headhunter.net … Monster.com … Hotjobs.com … and the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2002/2001 Edition. Don’t forget to look in the classified/career section of the Sunday newspaper or a corresponding web site. There is the America’s Job Bank that is underwritten by the Department of Labor at http://www.abj.dni.us. I also want to mention that you might consider the concept of “managing” your money rather than “spending” it. Proper money management can create more wealth for you so that you have more money to spend. If you do not manage your money and spend more than you make, not only will you find yourself in a job rut, you will also find yourself in a financial hole.
If you are seeking a degree or just graduating from high school, talk to your instructors and career counselors about possible job opportunities in the fields that you are interested in. Also talk to friends and other students who are already in a field that attracts you. Ask if you can visit some of these people while they are on the job, in order to find out more about their work and how you might be able to hook up with their organization. Networking is extremely important at this time. Someone may know someone who knows someone else that knows someone in a job location of interest to you. Look for part-time work to gain practical experience and don’t forget to take advantage of volunteer opportunities in your field in order to gain experience and build your resume. Don’t let negative thinking, age, race, national origin or gender inhibit your search for satisfying employment, career building and career opportunities.
If you know anyone in upper management at the firms where you would like to work, try to arrange an “informational interview” with these people. Let them know that you are considering a change of employment and are inquiring about a possible opening. Attend as many professional association meetings in your field as possible. Contact the companies where you would like to work. Let them know that you would like to make an appointment to show your resume and/or portfolio. Contacts through alumni meetings, professional workshops and seminars are also excellent. You do not have to mention your age, race, religion, gender or physical handicaps. Make sure to put together the very best resume/vita that you can, one that stresses your training, exceptional qualities, accomplishments, awards, additional training and areas of service. It is a good idea to check the many books and web sites that contain information on how to create a top notch resume.
“Knowledge is power … and action creates opportunity.”