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Later In Your Career? How To Make A Career Pivot

Posted by | September 6, 2018 | Advice, Career, How to

Via Forbes : Later In Your Career? How To Make A Career Pivot

This older job seeker wants to make a career pivot:

I work in an industry that is dying (digital marketing, which is both becoming fully automated and being taken inhouse by clients) and am working on a career pivot. I’ve got lots of great skills but, as a woman over 45, feel like I am unemployable. How do I cut through the biases so people see me and my wealth of experience?

This question is really two questions

This job seeker wants to cut through the biases and convey her wealth of experience. These are two separate objectives and need to be handled differently. If your interviewer is biased against you for non-job related reasons, it won’t matter what your qualifications are. Your best strategy to cut through the bias is to find another interviewer – e.g., find another entry point into the company, or meet enough people in the hiring process that this interviewer’s view is neutralized.

If your objective is to convey your wealth of experience, then prepare to interview well. Since you have 20-plus years of experience to choose from, make sure you choose recent, relevant, and tangible examples of results. Don’t give a laundry list of everything you can do and all the qualities you are – this deluge of information will just confuse your interviewer. Point out specifically the skills and attributes of value to the company you are targeting.

Separate out bias from other job search issues so your search is not about bias

It’s important to keep the issues of bias and job search performance separate because to combine the two means you bring bias into every hiring situation . If you let the fear, anxiety, or anger that bias promotes affect you, then you’ll be less motivated to work on your job search – why bother when companies only hire the young? You’ll carry a chip on your shoulder and risk alienating even non-biased interviewers. You may be less likely to look at your own job search actions and how they might be improved.

Unfortunately, bias exists, and you may see reports in the media or hear anecdotal stories that reinforce your fear, anxiety or anger. Make a conscious effort to balance out the negative examples with positive ones. Review your network for people who have recently landed new jobs. Congratulate them on their moves–it’s a great way to network, and you may get a tip you can use for your search. If you can’t find anyone you know, read success stories like this 50-year-old legal professional who found a new career and promotion after a layoff, this rags-to-riches entrepreneur who lost his fortune multiple times before rebuilding again after 60, and this 50-something sales professional who made a change to real estate to shore up her retirement. I also used real estate, albeit international real estate to make a career change after 40.

Play up your natural advantages

Rather than assuming that employers will be biased against your age, play up the natural advantages that come with a longer work history. You have experienced up and down economies. When you talk about your results, make sure to emphasize if you have achieved wins in both growing and contracting markets. You have decades of experience, so there is a proven track record. Outline your career progress, and highlight year-over-year growth and consistency. Finally, you hopefully have a bigger network to choose from. Even if haven’t reconnected in a while, pull out that alumni directory, revisit your resume to remember colleagues at all of your former employers, and review your social media connections.

Be prepared to overcome objections (including your own)

Along with the advantages that experience brings, there are disadvantages to hiring experienced professionals. Check your salary expectations to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market, especially if you are changing careers from a higher-paying to a lower-paying industry. Check your title and level expectations because you may come in with a smaller team or no team, or you may be joining a flatter organization and need to relinquish a management title. Check your attitude because you may be working for someone younger than you, who has less total years of experience but may have more experience in the area you pivot to.

Do not treat your career pivot like a regular job search

A career pivot is not the same as a job search where you stay in the same role and industry. You know fewer people in the field, and fewer people know you. You don’t have exact experience. You don’t have insider expertise. So you already have disadvantages to overcome. Help recruiters and employers help you by telling a coherent career story. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’re pivoting. Many more companies ask for work samples or assign cases to complete. You don’t have a track record in this area, so treat these assignments seriously.

In a recent post, I answered a question from an early career professional also worried about career longevity. It seems that, young or old, knowing how to manage your career is challenging. You can absolutely make a career pivot later in your career. There are even natural advantages inherent in waiting till you have substantive experience. But the best time to make the change is when you’re sure you want to change, whether early, middle or later in your career.

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