For those who are middle-aged and finding it difficult to either become entrepreneurs or wishing to rejoin the workforce, there are a few things to keep in mind. The most important thing to remember is that middle-aged workers have a lot to offer, including a wealth of life and work experience, esprit de corps and loyalty.
Of course, anyone can try entrepreneurship, and in today’s world, freelancers are increasingly becoming the bulk of the workforce. In the not too distant future, there will be more freelancers than individuals employed in a traditional full-time job.
Whether you are looking to become an entrepreneur or an employee, there are still some things you will have to do. You need to have clarity around the idea you want to execute in a new business or they type of company or business where you would like to seek employment. Skipping this basic step and doing or taking “anything” is simply a recipe for failure. Lay out a clear vision for what you want to do, why and how to get there.
I’m a big believer in being prepared. If you’re prepared, you can “wing it”. If you don’t know what you’re talking about and you make everything up as you go along, it’ll eventually catch up to you. So, research and learn about what it takes to be successful. Understand how the field may be changing and what it takes, including marketing yourself or the business, to be successful.
Being an entrepreneur or employee still requires realistic expectations. Yes, high expectations are important, as are dreams and vision, but no matter what you do, it always takes a great deal more work than you ever expect. And, so setting expectations that are based on sound reasons and assumptions is going to get you much further.
Things have changed drastically due to globalization, outsourcing, disruption, innovation, position redundancy and automation. Yes, everything was different ten or twenty years ago, but if you are looking for employment, recognize that even the selection of candidates is different today.
Now a resume will be initially checked by software programs that search for unique key words in order to identify candidates for further consideration. This happens before a pair of human eyes even looks at your resume. Those resumes that make it past that first hurdle then go to a human resources specialist who will devote about 6 seconds to reviewing it. Imagine the odds of getting chosen in many positions, based on those two realities.
Today, a lot of success comes in not only what you know but also whom you know. It is vitally important for both employees and entrepreneurs to network. If you happen to be an introvert, this can be a challenge. A good technique is setting a goal to invite one or two people a week for coffee. If you have the personality and are more adventurous, attending networking meetings is a better way to go since you can meet many more people and use your time more effectively.
Your overall goal is to make as many meaningful human connections as possible. In a startup business, these individuals can become your customers or lead you to new clients if you have the solution to a need. Otherwise, in the job market, by networking, you are helping to position yourself outside of the resume stream that will first get vetted by a computer and then a specialist. It allows you the opportunity to potentially get your resume in the hands of the decision-making hiring manager.
Focus groups, networking meetings, coffees, employment and business conventions– anywhere you can show your true colors in person are all effective strategies. Don’t rely on only one strategy. Use a variety of them and see what works best for you.
If you are middle-aged, you may have experience and a bias that you may not realize. It happens generation after generation. You have older employees or entrepreneurs who have to work for, or with, much younger people. It doesn’t matter. Even if they don’t have the experience you do, you probably do have something to learn from them. Be open and willing to work with a younger person, including a boss.
Don’t allow the assumption be true that the older you become, the less inclined you are to be up to speed on the latest technology. Consistently brush up on technology, computer skills, social media and news so you can compete and operate in today’s world.
Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. It might not seem important, but it is crucial to success. You need to be at the top of your game, and this means mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You want to have vitality and energy–no matter your age.
Unfortunately, life can be hard and especially in an environment with constant change. Employers want success. Customers want the same things. The reality is no one cares in business about your issues, complaints or baggage. All they care about is high performance. Remembering this will only help you.
Be willing to go the extra effort, as this will differentiate you from your competitors. Although middle-age is an advantage, it can sometimes be viewed as a disadvantage, so just accept this as a fact of life, don’t work against it. Instead, go with the change and use it to your advantage.
Finally, realize this, any one–no matter the age–in order to survive and thrive needs to be smart and work hard. Utilize all of your skills and leverage and extend your network to its fullest. Always be willing to learn. In today’s world, everything changes constantly. As someone once said, “Life is a contact sport”.
Posted: April 10, 2015
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